It’s rare for my blog to have a sequel. This one does. After writing about the Seed’s mission to inspire kids to think outside the box, we now shift to inside the box. The inspiration comes from our littlest Seeds, our Toddler 1s. When I popped in for a visit Tuesday morning, boxes were everywhere. Boxes just right for sitting upon, boxes for stacking and knocking over, boxes big enough for toddlers to climb inside of. One resourceful toddler figured out a way to lift her big box by sliding her arms into the plastic packing slip sleeve. It was a toddler version of a forklift picking up heavy warehouse crates. Beside her, short-lived box skyscrapers were toppling over as fast as they were constructed. Another child made a chair from her box and perched on it, facing away from the rest of the group, off in her own little world. I left the room for two minutes and when I returned, the box area was abandoned and the toddlers were engaged elsewhere. During our week 3 focus on skyscrapers and habitats, I thought I’d do a bit of investigating about “elsewhere.” This is what I found out from our summer toddler teachers.
The Toddler 1s have been learning about the ocean and their teachers created an ocean habitat in the water table. On Monday they talked about where land creatures live and played with their plastic animals in mud. They found out that snails carry their homes on their backs! They’ve enjoyed their new classroom playhouse because, after all, toddlers do live in houses. One activity was making white play dough “eggs” that will later in the week be placed in nests, the place where birds live. Their teacher is also planning to take them outside to look for birds. They are sure to find one, nesting near the main entrance door.
Toddler 2s and 3s have been talking about houses, too. Each child made a paper bag house, which helped develop their fine motor skills through crushing paper, grasping small items and gluing on house details. Through books they are identifying parts of a house, such as the roof, doors and windows. The older toddlers are recognizing the colors of doors other elements of a house and have added the word “construction” to their vocabularies. “Habitat” will be another addition to their lexicon. Like the Toddler 1s, identification of sea animals in their ocean habitat is part of their week.
What stands out from all of this is these are toddlers, children under three. Their teachers aren’t holding back introducing them to the world just because they’re little. In fact, they are holding the door wide open and inviting them to enter into as many new, yet developmentally appropriate, life adventures as they can. Seed toddlers have daily opportunities to practice interacting with the world in infinite ways. Through all their play with materials from everyday life, they are building strong minds and bodies that will serve them well—both inside and outside the box.