The story wins the day - Marbles go to potty

Delivery Method: 

Corbin and Annie play at the same table for 45 minutes, making marble ramps and catches. At first Corbin is unsure if he can create what he has planned, so he asks Annie. Annie senses that Corbin wants to build up, so she offers him a short grooved block and places it on top of another grooved block. Corbin repeats this strategy with another block, but he remains unsure that his structure offers what he desires. He wants the marble to roll along the “maze” but it just falls off the short block. He calls out to Kelly, the teacher, hoping she will help him create a structure that works. Kelly suggests that Corbin ask his friend, Jordan for help and he follows her suggestion. Corbin makes some attempts but remains unsatisfied with his “maze.”

Then Corbin shifts his objective from building a structure to animating a story. Corbin makes his “little maze” more interesting by reading it as a story, little people lined up to go “pee”. This story even intrigues Annie, who becomes less interested in her structure. The narrative that Corbin adds creates a new form of complexity, a complexity based on a sequence of actions as opposed to a multilayered spatial layout. He lifts a marble out of the recess to let another marble go potty. He lines them up and even exchanges some colors for others that make sense in his story. Corbin knows how inclines work, but in building his story he actually makes new discoveries about the materials, e.g. you can extricate a marble from the recess, you can push the whole line of marbles up the incline to allow the next “little person” to go pee, you can either go to the potty on the right (larger recess) or go pee on the left (smaller recess). Annie is attracted to this new mode of play. That is the power of adding narrative to block play. It adds sociability to the play and even leads to new discoveries about what the medium can do. Did Corbin’s initial need for help result from his assumption that the game was one of making a complex spatial structure? We are glad he made the shift to story, and so was Annie.