After 3 years in the Pre-k classroom, I’ve had the best time in the Toddler room this year! It has completely revived my enthusiasm for teaching and I’ve had so much fun watching these little ones discover the art of dramatic play. It’s uncanny how their imaginations dream up “trips to Rockies games”, “car rides to the grocery store” and as seen here, “submarine voyages” all right on cue at about 2 1/2 years of age. My staff and I have spent the past year watching them engage first in parallel play, then slowly begin to interact and actually play with each other, all leading up to the recent explosion in group dynamics with very complex plots of trips to the beach:)
We were having yet another rainy afternoon and the wooden tubes were calling us. Interestingly enough the kids were immediately drawn to the tube that I turned upside down far more than the tubes that were upright and “rockable”. As I observe them more closely these days, climbing on top of something outweighs any other activity offered. Someone should do a study on that!
However, we did have the occasional choice to rock in the tube and pretend to be a stuntman………….but as I mentioned, the clear preference of the group was to climb aboard the big tube with shouts of “Everyone get on the boat!” and one take-charge toddler declaring “I’m driving”.
As we always do in times of free play (which is most of our day), my assistants and I do a lot of watching, listening, and making sure all kids are alive and present in the room. So when I say they broke out into choruses of “Row, Row Your Boat” all on their own, I’m being completely truthful! There was definitely a little confusion at the beginning as to which mode of transportation they were on but ultimately, the oldest and most vocal put her foot down and a submarine trip it was.
“We’re on a train! We’re on an airplane! We’re going to take off! We’re on a flamingo boat and submarine! Probly goin’ to the beach and Suzy, you’re comin’ with us”
(all of that came out just as fast as it reads and I think in one breath – how do small people talk without breathing?)
Even though I’ve read a million articles about how dramatic play begins at this age, it’s still fascinating to watch it spontaneously emerge. An object starts to be used for other purposes like bananas as phones, and wooden tubes as flamingo submarines and the kids start to imitate or imagine events as if they’ve been doing that all their little lives. There were so many other social-emotional developments going on this afternoon- taking turns, teaching younger friends how to accomplish the elusive balancing skill, counting to 3 in unison as they jumped off……………
My favorite quote of the day: “Balancing is just putting your arms out ’til you fall” (which is pretty much exactly true, right?!)
So after our trip to the beach, yet another use for the tube was discovered and if you’ve ever read “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss, you’re familiar with the incredibly cool “Whispermaphone” concept. It just never gets old to yell your friends’ name into the end of a tube, be upside down and get your name yelled back to you:)
Of course there’s ALWAYS the kid that’s primarily concerned with safety………
Honestly though, if you’re not the one driving, who knows what could happen to the submarine or what dangers could be waiting for you at Flamingo Beach?