Using Wheels in Various Ways


For the last couple of weeks, the preschool children have been intrigued by the wheels and rolling them. Outside, several of the preschool children were having fun playing with the wheels we have. Some children were rolling them down the grassy hill and chasing after it. Wesley said, “I’m rolling it super fast, it goes rolling all the way to the fence.” Benjamin was rolling his wheel along the concrete, using his foot to get it started. “It rolled over there on the concrete and it went up in the grass a little bit,” Benjamin said. Lily Rose and Wesley were carrying a wheel up the hill together and Lily Rose said, “We’re picking it up together because it was too heavy,” demonstrating great teamwork. Anna, Bela and Lilya decided to use the wheels to lay their heads down on and Anna said, “We’re just taking a nap, these are our pillows.” Each child used the wheel in their own creative way.

To further extend on this we put paper on two big pieces of wood and leaned them up against one of the logs outside as ramps. Three trays were filled with paint and a wheel was added to each one. The preschoolers were then invited to come roll the wheels down the ramps, watching the wheels create tire marks on the paper. We had three different wheels that made unique track marks, two were bigger and one was smaller. Sometimes the wheels made it all the way down, sometimes they fell off the ramp, and a few times they came off one ramp but went onto the other one. The preschoolers used their gross motor skills to cover the tires in paint and roll them down the ramps. Verbal communication skills were also used as the children shared their observations with their peers and educators. Social skills were demonstrated as the children waited their turn and encouraged their peers.

Our continuation of exploring wheels led to educator Nicole K bringing in a big car tire from home for the preschoolers to enjoy for a few days. The children were so creative and used the tire in many ways, showing cooperation with each other. Luke enjoyed looking inside the tire to see what was in there. “There’s water in there,” he said. Lilya tried standing inside the tire when it was laying down and said, “I’m inside it.” We worked together to bring the tire up the hill; we had to look carefully to make sure no one was in the way before we sent the tire rolling quickly down. As some of the preschoolers pushed the tire back up the hill, Anna said, “I need so many friends to help,” and Theo agreed, adding, “This is a lot of work.” When Lily Rose was working with some of her friends to roll the tire around the playground she said, “We’re all strong,” as they talked about how all the children were strong. Luke helped roll it along and started singing, “We go beep beep, we go beep beep.”

The tire was also used in a dramatic play way. Anna, Jaime, and Emily were sitting in the tire pretending it was a boat. Anna asked, “Why did we stop?” and Jaime quickly replied, “There’s ice in the water!”

Fine motor skills were explored as well. As Emily examined the tire closely she noticed all the grooves and was trying to squeeze rocks into them. The preschool friends used their gross motor skills, their problem-solving skills, and even representation as they imagined the tire being different things.

One last expansion was when educator Nancy brought in a gear set to see what the preschool children would do and how they would relate it to the wheel exploration. Theodore, Oliver, Leo, Wesley, and Lilya used one interlocking base and connected the gears vertically together, as tall as they could, so that when they turned one gear all the gears that were connected moved with them. Watching the gears turn reminded them of the way a wheel rolls! However, the gears were also explored in other ways. Nicolas got creative and built a house out of the gears, turning them to open and close the front door of his house. Alice built a forest using 3 interlocking bases; the orange square pillar represented the stumps and the green six-way axles were the leaves. The creativity displayed was wonderful. While this versatile, interconnecting gear set is different every time we build, it is a direct parallel to the wheels. We are able to foster imagination and offer ways to experiment with simple mechanics and science, which supports STEM as we introduce the children to sorting, grouping, counting, designing, constructing, and putting physics into play with spinning gear movement- just like pushing a tire down a hill or steep incline. It also boosts fine motor skills while also promoting reasoning as the children create moving experiments and the learning gets more intricate as children’s abilities advance.

Preschool child rolling wheel down ramp with paint preschool boy rolling wheel through paint on paper Children building gears with educator