Thursday, September 18, 2014

Reinventing the Wheel: Moving Heavy Objects with Rolling Logs

Building on all our wheels fun {here and here} we decided to look at how people in ancient times moved heavy objects - basically how they think the wheel was first invented.

To start off I asked Bug to select a heavy board game from our games cupboard.  The goal was to move the box from one mark on the floor to another about 6 feet away on our hardwood floor.  We lined the box up with our start line and she gave a mighty push!

Although the box slide quite well it did not go the whole way.  So after asking how we could improve our results Bug suggested that we attach some wheels to the box.    I pulled out some wooden dowels and asked if they would work:

She thought it was a great idea as they were round and could roll.   We played around with a few layouts but none seemed to fit under the box just right! The box either did not fit or slid right off.

When Bug finally figured it out she was so happy.  Upon mommies encouragement she added a few extra dowels underneath. She gave it a gentle push and it moved forward but she was rather upset as a dowel popped out the back.  Bug looked at me and reminded me in her 4 year old way that I had forgotten to attach the wheels.  This was a great point to talk about how they think that when the wheel was first invented they used rolling logs from trees - a bigger version of our dowel rods.  In a way we were re-inventing the wheel.

We then spoke about how if we put that rod in front of our box we could roll the box onto it and another dowel would pop out.  We could continue to roll the box forward by taking each dowel that popped out the back and put in under the front.  

With great care we slowly and surely made it from the one end to the other.  She was so proud of herself for getting it there so carefully.  A few of the dowels did start to bunch up together under it and so we spoke about how we wanted to try and spread them out so that one side of our box did not fall on the floor.

We hope you have fun reinventing the wheel too!


  • wooden dowels (at least 4)
  • heavy board game box


  1. Mark a start line on a hardwood floor and line the box up.
  2. Give the box a push and see how far it goes.
  3. Show how the wooden dowels roll on the floor and allow the child to play with placing them under the box.
  4. Lay the dowels out evenly and lower the box down.  Push it forward until a dowel pops out the back.  
  5. Take the dowel and place it at the front and roll the box onto it and forward until a dowel pops out the back.
  6. Repeat until you have completed your distance to travel.


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