Ten rainy days in a row makes for some cranky two year olds……………until you pull out the chalk spinner! We had thoroughly exhausted every indoor gross motor, art, building and dramatic play activity we could think of, read about, or look up online.
The kids had never seen the spinner before and while I did leave a pile of chalk on the table, I resisted the urge to show them how to use it. I’ve really been trying to remember the article I read about “overteaching”. http://www.slate.com/id/2288402/ So within seconds they picked up the chalk and started drawing, which was really fun to watch but honestly, I was more interested in the potential personal space issues and turn-taking opportunities. Anyone who teaches toddlers know that sometimes they don’t like to be touching:)
As it turns out, they were so absorbed in drawing and making it spin that they didn’t seem to notice the close proximity of their friends and with plenty of chalk on hand, no one was complaining.
I also found it really interesting that they didn’t spin it back and forth but rather got it going in one direction and then kept it spinning the same way the entire time. And why wasn’t anyone poking their friends with chalk? Or drawing on their faces? I swear I didn’t say anything about not doing that. Over and over again I’m reminded that when actively engaged in something, kids and even big people, will probably behave. It’s when we get bored that bad choices are made:) So of course, some of the kids started to peel off after ten minutes or so but there were some die-hards that wanted to make sure it was thoroughly covered with their chalk color of choice.
I particularly enjoyed watching when they just hold the chalk on top and let the spinning motion do all the work – experimenting with and trusting that the motion will continue to deliver some effect. I think the concept of “Cause and Effect” might be the single most prevalent cognitive development in a Toddler classroom. But wait! A new use for the spinner comes after naptime! We had cleaned it off when they slept and left it on the table for them to use again. I will admit I had put the chalk away while they ate lunch so it wasn’t an option at the moment. But who knew the chalk spinner was also a transportation mode for dolls and cars? Now we were experimenting with different directions of spinning, how fast we could make it go and keep the figures from falling off, how many could fit on at a time, which animals were more fun to spin. I thought it was fascinating that they tried the figures by themselves AND in a car – I bet they were wondering in those little minds if there was going to be a difference. Did they think the car would move on there?
And it’s 4:00 pm and it’s still raining!!! We’ve now had a couple dance parties – thank goodness for the local 80’s music station – no child or adult can resist getting their shake on to Dexys Midnight Runners “C’mon Eileen”. The spinner had been moved to the floor when we got the furniture out of the way (these kids need lots of space to boogy). That’s when I see one of my small people park himself on it and basically tell me I need to get the “Sit and Spins” out of storage. Well, duh, I would try to spin on this too if I saw it just sitting there. Everything you can climb on should spin, right? So in one day, one toy gets used in at least 3 very different ways – none of which I demonstrated ahead of time and frankly, I wouldn’t of thought of the chalk spinner as a transportation mode or a self-propelling instrument. Maybe it’s a drum next? Lesson of the day for me in my toddler class? LET THEM FIGURE OUT WHAT TO DO WITH IT – just sit back, watch and enjoy:)