Open Discussion Forum

Topic: things to hold

1.  things to hold

Posted 10 days ago
A quick search didn't turn up answers to my question, so I'll go ahead and ask it here:

I'm about to start a new school year with a full class of 2 year olds, all of whom I've had previous classroom time with. One child in particular will grab a toy (like a spatula or a hammer) and walk around with it. I recognize this as a combination of lack of sensory and water play in the last classroom/ self soothing/ control in the face of transitions. I want to have things that will fulfill the child's need to hold something without diluting the purpose of the centers (i.e., if you want to play with the spatula lets go cook in the kitchen). Any ideas for small objects that will fit nicely in a hand but not be tied to a center?

------------------------------
J Fallon
Katy TX
------------------------------


2.  RE: things to hold

Posted 10 days ago
Good question, a lot of little ones feel more comfortable with something to hold. Here are some ideas I've tried: egg shaker (I'm a music teacher so I usually have a few on hand) - it has the nice but unobtrusive sound too; squishy "stress ball": hacky sack; balled-up socks (nice and soft and squishy) and a mini-Beanie Baby type stuffed animal.

------------------------------
Abigail Connors
Piscataway NJ
------------------------------



3.  RE: things to hold

Posted 9 days ago
​I can certainly appreciate your concern that removal of items from a center might dilute the center.  At the same time, kids often use their imaginations and items take on new dimensions in their hands. A spatula becomes magic wand, a hammer becomes super tool that can fix anything anywhere in the classroom.  Rather than remove the opportunity to travel with these items, I see it more as an opportunity to help them see the importance of putting it back when they are done, and showing the other students how to ask for a turn if they need it for their "center" play.  And of course, if they simply need something  in their hand, have a basket of fidget toys on hand. Squishy things, hard things, soft things. Balloons filled with various materials can fit the bill if your classroom is short on supply funds or extra do-dads to designate to the fidget box.

------------------------------
James Mitchell
Takoma Park MD
------------------------------



4.  RE: things to hold

Posted 10 days ago
When my daughter was that age, she liked to carry around a cloth diaper. However, this can be a very individual thing, so you may need to use trial and error to find an object that the child enjoys having close but does not need to stay in a particular center. Since this child seems attracted to long, firm objects you might try offering a cardboard tube, such as one from a roll of paper towels or foil. This might have a similar feel to the hammer or spatula. It would be easily replaceable if lost and you could have extras if others decided they wanted one too.

------------------------------
Judith Mullican
West Jefferson NC
------------------------------



5.  RE: things to hold

Posted 10 days ago
​I have seen great success and lengthy engagement with loose parts, such as large pine cones, cloths of varying texture, pad locks, hairbrushes and key rings (filled with keys).

------------------------------
Aryn Balfour
Tuttle OK
------------------------------



6.  RE: things to hold

Posted 10 days ago
I keep a treasure basket in my room, which is a fascinating collection of bits of things that don't really have a home - odd parts of things, game pieces, all kinds of cool stuff. My kids often take them out when they need a thing, either to carry around or as a prop for dramatic play or to group and organize. As it is not tied to a center, it offers its own kind of freedom and it gives me a place to put things that are too good to throw out! Win-win!

------------------------------
Carol Wolf
Abington Friends School
Jenkintown PA
------------------------------



7.  RE: things to hold

Posted 10 days ago
I guess I don't understand how it "dilutes" the purposes of centers to allow children to carry objects from the center around the room. The objects will make it back to the correct centers eventually right?

If you think about it from a child development standpoint, the whole idea of setting up learning centers originated so that early childhood  environments would be more responsive to the developmental needs of young children, not so that children would have to conform to the needs of the environment. I find this happens a lot in programs and schools. Something is developed that is appropriate and responsive to children's needs but then taken to an extreme so that the child ends up having to accommodate to the setting/the rule/or the routine rather than the other way around.

Flexibility in how centers are used and maintained is particularly important for toddlers (as the whole idea of learning centers was really developed with older children in mind). And we can't always know why a toddler prefers certain objects over others; maybe she like the look and feel of the spatula in her hand or maybe it reminds her of home. My 2 year old grandson is fond of toy dinosaurs and takes one with him wherever he goes, in the car, to the store, to the beach, and to his cousin's house. Wy would I ever insist that the dinosaur be kept on the toy shelf in my dining room where it "belongs"? I can't think of a single good reason not to let a toddler carry a spatula around a classroom.

------------------------------
Cindy Hoisington
Education Development Center
Waltham MA
------------------------------



8.  RE: things to hold

Posted 9 days ago
I agree completely, Cindy.  Why do objects have to stay in a particular center (although they might need to return "home" at clean-up time, which is a great lesson in itself).  And from a child development standpoint, this transporting of objects may be a very good thing.  I see variations of this all the time, but the example that comes to mind is when I was visiting a classroom and a child had taken the unit block from the Block Center and was using it as a telephone in Dramatic Play.  The teacher reminded him that the block "belonged" in Blocks, and asked him to return it there.  But I was thinking, "Wow, this child is using some terrific higher order thinking skills."  To use the miniature plastic object in Dramatic Play that is obviously intended to be a telephone is fine, but how higher-order to take that block and use it when the toy phone was already being used by another child.  Several steps further along the continuum of "representational thinking" that we want to see because it is so crucial to academic skills for reading and math.  In fact, here are some objectives from The Creative Curriculum, fifth edition.  Notice what is grouped together!

14. Uses symbols and images to represent something not present
a. Thinks symbolically
b. Engages in sociodramatic play

ALL the other suggestions for objects for the child to hold are great ones, and of course children frequently attach to one item and want that one.  If it is something from a center, don't sweat it.  If it is something you introduce and is special to that child, that's great, too!

------------------------------
Joseph Appleton
Dayton VA
------------------------------



9.  RE: things to hold

Posted 9 days ago
Right on Joseph, it's so funny I can't get that spatula out of my mind. As I sit here working on a million other things I'm thinking, not only can I think of a reason not to let the child carry the spatula around, I can think of a million reasons why we should actually support it...your block and telephone example being a great one and illustrative of the development of representational thinking and critical thinking as well. It's so bad that the teacher in your example wasn't aware that using objects in novel ways is actually a great developmental milestone. I was especially thinking about the 21st century skills we want to develop in children, the 4 C's as they are sometimes called...critical thinking and problem-solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity and innovation. What else would a spatula be useful for besides as a kitchen tool? What about for banging on a pot or a block to make noise, a toy iron to smooth out the baby's clothes, or a tool for turning over upside-down puzzle pieces? Wouldn't it be great if we could use these opportunities to reflect on our teaching practices and the reasons we have for the simplest daily rules and routines? And of course, I agree that rules and routines are important and need to be taught so that children can get along with others. I think of matter of balance and constantly thinking what is the most important thing I could be teaching in this moment? Also agree there were lots of good ideas for items to hold and feel in this thread and I look forward to sharing those as well!

------------------------------
Cindy Hoisington
Education Development Center
Waltham MA
------------------------------



10.  RE: things to hold

Posted 9 days ago
Cindy,
I was reading this as I was cooking ( pancakes) and using a spatula to flip them.  I chuckled as I read the posts and then decided to see what uses children informally would come up with.
I added 4 spatulas to my toy area for my grandchildren and watched during the morning ( children ages 4,5,6) to see if they would choose them and what they would do with them.
During the course of the day, the spatulas: picked up bugs from the back porch (placed back into the garden), made their way into the sandbox, became a mirror for hair "fixing shop", were used with bubbler and paint, made splashes in the pool and the one  I found most "interesting" using them to step on, one at a time, to make their way across the grass.
So, I am in strong favor of imagination over ( or in addition to) purpose with the agreement that picking up and replacing items to wherever the proper place is.  This last step also ensures the children know where to find them then next time to create more uses.
Chris King





11.  RE: things to hold

Posted 8 days ago
​Cindy, I agree with you.  I might even go as far as suggest that too much is being placed on the act of the child and too much control in the response of the educator.  It is a far cry from observing a child carry around a hammer to suggesting he is not capable of self-soothing, etc.  If we are truly creating play environments for children to explore and learn, then we need to offer time and space for the exploration and learning to happen.  Who knows, such a child, the one thinking outside the box, might be the one to find a solution to world hunger or peace.  I personally try to find strength and potential in my observations of children.  That is not to say that concerns will not arise, but let us not go there so quickly.

In defense of the original author to this question, I am guessing there is more to your original observations and concerns.  Maybe you can tell us a bit more about the child.
Thanks,
Deb

------------------------------
Deborah Schein
Minneapolis MN
------------------------------



12.  RE: things to hold

Posted 7 days ago
Cindy (et al),

The child in question was taking the hammers from children who were busy using the tools to build and then taking the spatula from the child who was using it to stir in the kitchen area and then just carrying it around. As far as "diluting" the centers go, for me it's more about how the class as a whole is using the space: if children are actively putting food on the table and pouring each other tea, then I'm not going to let another child push all of that off to put blocks on the table when there is space in the block area (which has happened).

As far as symbolic use of blocks go, I have actually gotten rid of a lot of the "food" that the previous teacher had put into dramatic play because it was things like plastic orange juice containers with some cut up orange tissue paper inside with the lid glued on: it looked pretty but never got used. I moved some of the smaller blocks into dramatic play specifically because of the open-ended ways children will use them to be phones or food or hammers. When I explained what I was doing to my director, talking about the power of a blank canvas (like Waldorf dolls with no faces), she wasn't sure that the other teachers would get what I was doing.

I don't think I said the child couldn't self soothe, just that since the carried object wasn't getting used in anyway other than being carried around which made me think it was more about the comfort of something in hand.

Hope that clarifies a few thing!


------------------------------
Jennifer Fallon
Katy TX
------------------------------



'