Thursday, March 3, 2011

Towers, Slides and Finger Paintings

Yesterday was my second day volunteering with the toddlers. It was a little confusing at first because they had a few extra people there. There were two high school students who were there to observe. At least that’s what it looked like. Then a community reader came in and she sat in the reading area for a while. Some toddlers stayed with her the whole time reading books and the others chose to play in other parts of the room. They were really into the blocks still. When I arrived, they had the foam blocks scattered all over the floor. One of the toddlers started jumping on them again while grabbing my hands. This didn’t last long because she had found the container of small blocks. She wanted to build tall towers. I started building a tower on my own with the foam blocks. A few seconds after I had the tower three blocks high, a boy had knocked it to the ground. We laughed and I started to build another tower for him to knock over. This went on for a few minutes until he went over to cook in the kitchen area. Meanwhile, another toddler came over and handed me an empty bowl. I asked him what it was. He didn’t answer so I asked if I could eat it. He said yes so I pretended to eat and then asked if he’d like some. Then he took the bowl, pretended to eat and headed off to the kitchen area.

I went over to the small table where the little girl was building tall towers. I told her that her tower was really tall so she started knocking it over and laughing. After the tower was completely destroyed, she started rebuilding it. Another toddler came over and started knocking blocks on the floor. I kept picking them up and putting them on the table for the other girl to use for her towers. I started to label some of the blocks telling her which ones were round, square, white, red, big, small etc. she’d repeat the words as she built. I counted her two towers and then she counted up to four by herself. I think she thought she had four towers instead of two, but that’s okay. Finally, she found a new game. She thought knocking all the blocks off the table was fun. I told her she’d have to pick them up which she did, but it was really fun for her to keep knocking them over. Another girl noticed and she started doing the same thing only this time, she was scattering them across the room. That’s one thing about working with toddlers; you clean up even during play time. If we didn’t, everything would be on the floor all at once. I find it’s easier to pick things up that aren’t being played with. If they take them out again, it’s okay because we can pick something else up that’s not being used. I ask the toddlers to get involved by having them put books back on the shelf or by bringing foods back to the kitchen area. Even if they don’t put the foods back in the baskets, it’s a start to have them bring the things back to the right area.

The structured activity of the day was sponge and finger painting. They were using these foam sponge type things. They weren’t exactly sponges, but a thicker foam material. They were washable. There were hearts, numbers, dogs, rhinos, etc. The idea was to have the toddlers stamp with them. We had a few trays of paint with different colors and the toddlers could use any of the stamps or colors that they wanted. We practiced asking each other for stamps or other colors of paint since everything was divided up among three tables. This turned into finger painting after a while and stamping handprints onto the paper. A couple of kids decided to fill their whole paper with different colors. This was another mess to clean up, but it was fun for them. As long as it was fun for the kids, it’s worth the trouble. I saved the teachers some time by cleaning all the paint trays and stamps.

Later, they had a circle time where one of the teachers sang songs with the kids and looked at books. Those who wanted to participate could and those who didn’t were busy on the climber. It has a slide that the kids love sliding, crawling or walking down. Some even like to go up the slide. This is one place where there is constant negotiating. Kids are either in each other’s way or there are too many people on the slide or the stairs at once. I kept telling them, “One at a time on the slide, please.” After hearing this a couple of times, one of the little girls started repeating me when she saw too many people on the slide. For the most part, the toddlers listen.

In the afternoon, we ate lunch and then at 12:30, it was nap time. I was disappointed because I was there until three O’clock and they slept all through the rest of my time there. They usually wake up earlier, but they had a busy morning.


  1. I agree with it being worth the mess! We have a new afternoon teacher at our center and she made a comment that she was glad the morning teacher had taken the paint out of the easel area and changed to chalk because of the mess. I prefer more messes and more experiences...

  2. Thank you for your comment. I agree with you. Although I am kind of a neat freak, I still prefer the kids to have more experiences and if that means more messes, then it’s okay. I’m usually the one picking up the toys that kids aren’t using to clean up the classroom. I become overwhelmed with too many messes, but if we can keep it down to one or two at a time, it’s much more manageable. I think the kids get overwhelmed with too much stuff around too. That’s why I try to get them in the habit of cleaning up their activity before choosing another one.


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