Wheelbarrow walking for heavy work isn’t a new concept. But I am excited about a way I thought of to make it very concrete and even fun! Presenting my new wheelbarrow walking mat:
This is my fancier laminated version, since I am lucky to have access to a big laminating machine on one of my school sites. My first few versions of this was made with just outlines of handprints on butcher paper (cut in half lengthwise), but I needed to make a new one after each use. The kids and I are loving this new colorful and sturdy version!
This easy visual makes it much more fun for the kids to go on a wheelbarrow walk. Also, the kids don’t seem as confused as they easily “get” what it is I am trying to get them to do, especially since it isn’t possible to accurately demonstrate a wheelbarrow walk by yourself. 😉 Also, I can easily make several and lend them out to teachers who need an easy and inexpensive way to incorporate heavy work into the classroom. I tell them to put puzzles or manipulatives or even touch-point math or whatever academics they like at the end of the wheelbarrow path.
One thing to also be mindful of is our own body mechanics when helping the students to wheelbarrow walk. I often will start by supporting the child just above the knees, and will move further back if the child appears to have adequate strength. Also, demonstrate how you support the child to make sure that the adult you are giving instructions to will understand how to do it! True story from a colleague of mine: A parent said that her child could not wheelbarrow walk, even though my colleague knew that the child was able to do it. When she asked the parent to demonstrate, the mom held her child by her ankles in an almost vertical position! (No wonder the child couldn’t do it that way!)