Week 5 (Final Week)
“Materials live in the world in multiple ways. They can evoke memories, narrate stories, invite actions, and communicate meanings. Materials and objects create meeting places. In early childhood education we gather around things to investigate, negotiate, converse, and share” (Kind, 2014, p. 865).
This inquiry into how water invites relationships amongst the children at BCC has been a visual display of the capabilities of the children as active participants in the creation of their own knowledge. That children's play is an approach to their own inquiries, a way to research the world. By providing diverse materials and experiences, educators create spaces for experimentation and transformation. (BC Early Framework, 2019, pg. 24)
This week we looked at the purpose the material holds for the children and their construction of knowledge, specifically the role the water holds in this inquiry. In this context the role of the material is one that supports and encourages potential relationships, inviting connection with others, the material and the world. Water has entered our inquiry in many forms; puddles, snow, bubbles, ice... all creating a gathering space for sensory exploration and play. The intention of the sensory invitations of water play insights, excites, and invites action, it becomes a gathering space for knowledge socially being constructed in the relations of others.
Multiple alliances have formed across these experiences in, with, and among the water. M.: “Look J. you can do it! We are working together to crush the ice and save it all up into the puddle. Look J. follow me, we can do it together.”
This sentiment in the language rich with acceptance, encouragement, and support echo throughout the Maple and Saplings rooms. Z. says “we need more.” handing each of her co-constructors jars of coloured water before retrieving her own. W. says “we did this, here is some for you.” S. says “let’s share!” her friends responding with an enthusiastic “yes, share!” E. handing over her ice to a friend and saying “these are all for you.”
Our inquiry into how water play invites relationship has concluded, through these observations of the children engaging in water play, we can see children as capable of working together, collaborating, testing theories, sharing knowledge, and co-constructing new ideas. The water functions as a liaison amongst the children, enhancing strategies for active exploration, thinking and reasoning collectively, providing limitless possibilities.
British Columbia Early Learning Framework 2019 Edition, retrieved from: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/early-learning/teach/early-learning-framework.
Our inquiry into how relationships develop around the shared sensory experience of water play is progressing. While experiences to engage with the water and materials proceed, this week through colour mixing, the children exhibited their concrete understandings of cooperation in both the Maple and Saplings classrooms.
After observing how the practical life experiences of washing dishes and baby dolls, alongside experiments with snow in the water table invited collaboration, the educators were curious to challenge the circumstances. What would happen if individual experiences were introduced, how would this invite cooperative play? Would the children engage with the materials independently? Would they find ways to continue to contribute towards relationships and teamwork?
Educators considered the necessary materials to support independent play by providing enough pipettes, spoons, colours, and containers for each child, releasing the children from an obligation to share, and choosing an activity that may initiate solitary experimentation.
In the Maple Room the children immediately relied on their relationships with one another to engage with the materials. W.B handing H. a pipette, W.K distributing them to others. Discussion and predictions on the experiment of mixing the colours ignited the chatter around the water table. S. showed F. how to hold the pipette and carefully explained to her the technique he discovered to operate it. Many children took time to teach others how to use the new pipette tool.
In the Saplings room the children corresponded by working collectively with the materials. There are two separate tables allowing for individual experiences, yet the children chose to use the tables together, sharing common goals, and opting to collaborate.
L. and W.P worked together to move the colours from one side of the water table to the other.
N. narrates actions to L. and tells her to scoop the water with her spoon. “Like this L.! See?” She mimics and they scoop the water into jars together.
W.B and Z. engaged in a cooperative story, and dramatic play experience. Z. “Makes the breakfast”, which includes making coffee, while W. agrees to “Mix the dinner,” which entails “Chocolate tea.” W.P joins the game and is invited to be in charge of the chocolate tea, W.B holds the jars while W.P fills them up.
Up until recently mainstream knowledge solely stated that cooperative play wasn’t a possibility until the ages of four and five. Recent studies, alongside these observations in the Saplings and Maple Rooms, challenge those ideas and show us both the drive and capabilities of infants and toddlers to form meaningful relationships among their peers. This combined together with their abilities to collaborate with one another, young children are cultivating cooperative communities and building significant connections amongst each other ultimately supporting one another's well-being, development, and belonging in the world.
Last week we were propelled forward into our inquiry on how water play sparks connection and builds relationships in our center. We observed the interactions of team work and collaboration taking place around the water table. We reflected on the inspiring words written by the Reggio Emilia theorist Loris Malaguzzi in the 100 languages, motivated by companionship unfolding silently between toddlers enabling one another to reach success through materials presented at the water table. In the National Association for the Education of Young Children Journal Loris Malaguzzi wrote “We consider relationships to be the fundamental organizing strategy of our education system. We view relationships not simply as a warm, protective back drop or blanket but as a coming together of elements interacting dynamically towards a common purpose.” (Malaguzzi, 1993)
With these stories and sagacious words in mind this week we welcomed our first snow.
The playground was alive with the children's cooperative play, children organizing one another to reach common goals; shoveling pathways, digging tunnels to find dinosaurs and unicorns, scaffolding igloos, snow creatures, snow speedbumps, and spackling over endless muddy puddles with snow.
The educators wondered if these partnerships of play and cooperating chatter would continue to take place if the element of snow joined our transition inside. Snow was scooped into our water tables and heuristic play materials consisting of metal scoopers, tea pots, and bowls were carefully selected by the children in the Maple room. In the Saplings room, metal scoops were switched for plastic ones.
In each room two compelling stories involving intrinsic interactions between older and younger children unfolds.
In the Maple room two children who rarely cross paths come together sharing a common interest to interact with the snow. The fact that S. is an older sister shined through as she gently spoke to J., passing him the materials that she could see were out of his reach. She watches intently as he curiously interacts with a teapot. She doesn’t intervene but empathetically coaxes him into navigating the device. It's easy to marvel at how in tune she was with knowing what his interests, needs were, and how at the same time she respected him as capable, never talking down to him, but treating him as an equal.
In the Saplings room N. and W. work beside one another building little snow castles. L is intrigued by the chatter and crawls over to investigate. W. and N. pause to observe an educator making snow castles and L. mashing them down. Their game changes then, and they begin working together lining these castles up along the table closer to L., watching contentedly as she begins to pat them down. This dance of building and smooshing goes back and forth, L. alternates between her shovel and her hands to pat down the snow, W. and N. working seriously and then sharing moments to giggle.
These stories are interconnected as they show us how relating to one another is imperative and innate in young children. The sense of community that the children experience amongst each other scaffolds critical skills such as language, self-worth, creativity, and empathy. The British Columbia Early Learning Framework writes about the impact of early social relationships providing a foundation for wellbeing and belonging. “By developing responsive relationships with adults and peers, each child feels a sense of well-being and can contribute to the well-being of their family, community, and society. This confidence is essential for children as they explore their capacities as family members, friends, thinkers, citizens, and discover their connections to the natural environment.” (B.C Early Learning Framework, 2019, page 67).
These two stories illuminate the significance of interactions that cultivate curiosity, compassion, and acceptance towards others.
British Columbia Early Learning Framework 2019 Edition, retrieved from:
Malaguzzi, L. (1993). For an Education Based on Relationships,
The National Association for the Education of Young Children, 49 (1), retrieved from: