Toddler Plays the Faucet: Research or Ritual

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In this video, we see a 17 months old girl who, like many children, loves water play – pouring water into bottles, stirring water in the water table and splashing in the puddles outside. But what drives her interest in water? We might know “that” she is interested in water play, but can we say more about how her thinking and predicting sustains her play? We learned from this child’s teacher that the water faucet holds more interest for toddlers than the water table. Unlike the faucet, the water in the water table does not continuously flow, cannot be turned on and off, and does not make a sound as it goes down the drain, nor is it associated with the “grown up” routine of washing hands.

At first viewing the child’s actions look stylized, as if she is showing herself the moves of washing her hands. But are these actions, when observed carefully, really repetitions or are they slight variations that test a new prediction about the sound, flow, and feel of the water? And are actions that are repeated done so for the same reason? But one might also see her behavior as imitative, an acting out the ritual of washing hands without much interest in the water as a physical event with consequences. Either way, we believe that when you slow down to consider the child’s intention for each specific action, only then will you discover the full breadth of childhood intelligence. See what do you think?

Download includes a high resolution video clip and a \"thinkprint\" transcript of each action the child makes.

Lenght of video: 3 minutes 37 seconds