Ball and Jug

Carter demonstrates that he knows about inside and outside. He holds a large clear jug steady with his left hand, while using his right hand to insert the ball into the narrow mouth. Notice how Carter maintains his focus despite the challenges he encounters. Carter defends his work from a peer and is not deterred from his goal. When the jug slides on the smooth floor, he repositions the jug close to his body where he is better able to align the ball with the narrow opening.


Drawing Tracks for Toy Trains

Matthew and Angus work together for 45 minutes, drawing railroad tracks on a papered tabletop, connecting sites (and states) so their train can deliver candy cargo. In offering this setup, the teacher understands that drawing tracks eliminates the limits of using plastic or wooden track segments. The boys draw well and can easily change the direction and interconnection of an inexhaustible "supply" of tracks. In this video sample of their work we suggest you think about the items below in order to decide if these 45 minutes contain value and learning moments.


Why Blake and Lou Move Like Tops

Young children often imitate an action that they see. This action could be an early form of representation; that is, making a symbol that "stands for" a referent that happened in the immediate past. By imitating the event, the child in a sense "puts a handle" on the event so that she can mentally "grasp" it. Using two short clips, we have added more granularity to these metaphors.


Milena Builds a Story with Her Mom

Children, when in the comfortable presence of a loving adult, will allow themselves to go with the flow of spontaneous ideas while telling a story and even explain their story when asked. In this particular episode, Milena's mom asks Milena to clarify story elements Milena has offered. Milena, who just turned four years old, knows the game and can switch back and forth between describing the events of the story and explaining her choices to her mom. Some of her remarks tell the story of swimming underwater and riding a dolphin.


Finding the Logic of a Music Keyboard

Watch this 2-year-old child explore the buttons on a music synthesizer and take note of what she learns about the conditional logic of the button functions; that is, how the lower button, B will turn on the drum cadence or turn it off but only if the power button, A is in the “on” position. We can define this conditional logic as follows: If A is x then B can be x or y. If A is y then B can only be y. By reflecting carefully on her play she discovers this conditional function (B’s function is conditional on, or determined by, the settings on A).


What Is a Book Anyway?

Young children will understand a book, as a cultural artifact, at different levels. We might call these early levels a form of pre-literacy. Is a book an interestingly hinged object to fold open and shut or pages that carry information in a sequence? Are the color patterns pretty decorations or pictures that refer to real things? Does the cover of a book have a different purpose than the inside of the book?


The Paradoxical Shell

Truman, 11 months, rotates, probes, and rubs a white shell. Let’s try and figure out what he might be thinking. By reading his actions as high level thinking we reveal the incredible intelligence manifest during the first year of life, intelligence that is sadly often reduced to phrases like “hand-eye coordination” or “using the five senses.” This shell has two contrasting sides, one convex, one concave; one smooth, the other ribbed. Watch this video and decide if you agree that Truman is actually comparing these two sides.


Reinventing Music Notation

The pre-kindergarten class featured in this video has been investigating several musical concepts for several months. In this experience, Jack is conducting his classmates in a drum ensemble. Before the video begins, the children were all playing the drums at the same time and were expressing frustration about being heard. Jack and his friend came up with a solution that the class agreed upon. Each person would be assigned a number, and when his/her number was called, it would be his/her turn to play.

Unequal Weights Balance

Physics can surprise us when a condition exists that we do not consider. In this video a child balances log cross-sections on a board that rests on a large curved block. Because the pivot is not a point, but rather a curve, it is possible for the boy to balance unequal weights. The physics has not changed. The round block underneath, in essence, changes the location of the fulcrum. The length of the board to the right of the fulcrum becomes longer (by tilting upward) if he places more weight on the left side of the board.


When the Teacher Sings "Ball"

When the teacher sings word-like sounds to Blake (10 months old), he orients more intently to the teacher. Notice how the teacher first invites Blake to make the same sounds she does. Then she elevates the invitation to consider that the word “ball” refers to the object she moves gently in her hand. By shifting back and forth between the game of “make my sounds” and “this object is called a ball” Blake might soon use the word “ball” himself in reference to the object. There is one place where Blake holds the ball up to the teacher, as if to invite her to share in his attention.



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