Solving Wesley’s Wheelbarrow Problem

Wesley has a wheelbarrow in the sandbox, and he is shoveling sand into it. When it tips over, he tries to right it, and expresses frustration when it keeps on tipping over. Mark comes over, and wonders if Stella, nearby, can help solve the problem. She is game! Her immediate reaction is to lean various items around it: a shovel, a half-pipe, and a bucket.



When Stella crams a ball under the side
that has been falling over, it does the trick!


Wesley notes this strategy,
and the next time it falls over,
he retrieves a bucket and
puts it underneath – success!

But the next problem is that the wheelbarrow won’t roll – it is stuck in the sand. No worries! He grabs a half-pipe and puts it under the wheel. As elegant a solution as this is, he still can’t get the wheelbarrow to budge. He switches strategies, opting to transfer the sand into a wagon to get it out of the sandbox. At first he uses a shovel, but then becomes enamored of the cone as an intermediary device. At this point his interest wanes – but what an exploration!


The children’s use of materials as tools has expanded. It was cool to see Stella using a half pipe in this way just before Wesley used one to help get unstuck. Previously, Elliott had been moving some half-pipes and one ended up as a ramp on the bleachers. A few minutes later, Chris noticed and wondered about sliding another pipe down that one. Then he demonstrated its use as a shovel, and finally, he slid woodchips down another half-pipe ramp, much like Stella did.

I’m a problem solver!

Chris attends the Plus Friday program with Diane. He chose to lie down as Diane read a story, but then complained:

I can’t see!                               Hmm, I wonder how you could solve that problem.

Chris considered this and then sat up as Diane continue reading.

I can see!                                   You’re a problem solver.

Chris liked this:

I’m a problem solver! I’m a problem solver!