Paper play

Earlier last week we set up a provocation in the Toddler 2 room. We placed strips of paper with certain letters and numbers on them and strips of blank pieces of paper. We came to realize that the children are really advancing with their scribbles and the meaning behind them. In other terms, it’s like hieroglyphics in toddler form.

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The children immediately grabbed the markers and began scribbling on the strips of paper. We noticed that sometimes they are very intense when they write. The children will say things like, “S…T…V…A” as they are scribbling, which leads us to believe that they are writing “letters.”

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We noticed that some of the children did not want to write on the letters. These children turned the paper over and began “writing” on the clean side of the strip of paper. However, some of the other children displayed a different scribble on each piece of paper they used. For example: these children drew dots on one piece of paper, circles on another, and/or small scribbles next to each letter. Moreover, a few children scribbled on top of each letter and one child chose to draw on the table instead of the paper.

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One particular child began rolling the paper up into a small spiral piece. She spent a good amount of time rolling the paper because it frequently would unroll and then she would begin rolling it all over again. When she rolled the first one, she said, “I made a cupcake!” (The word that was written on one of the pieces of paper.) She was so proud that she continued to make more. This was a personal discovery of something new to do with the paper. We couldn’t have imagined that a child would begin rolling the paper therefore it was a fascinating moment. Because she made the “cupcake,” others joined in and attempted to roll the paper as well. One other child was successful in rolling the paper while the others spent several minutes trying to keep it rolled. This activity did wonders for dexterity and their fine motor skills.

At one point we spelled “cupcake” and spent time recognizing each letter and sounding it out. You can see in the image below that one the word “cupcake”, one child drew a small scribble for each letter.

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“The act of scribbling can serve several useful purposes for the young child. Small muscle coordination and control improve with practice, cognitive abilities are exercised, opportunities for social interaction arise, and the physical movements provide emotional release.”

This project demonstrates how amazing learning opportunities can organically occur when we step back, observe, and follow the children’s lead. Some adults believe that scribbling is just that, a bunch of scribbles. In reality, scribbling is extremely similar to babbling for the development of a child, meaning it’s an early stage of children’s development that should be encouraged. To read an insightful article on the toddler’s scribbles and why they’re important, click here.

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