No more Dumping.....Transporting is fine!

I was talking to my co-workers about reading  Tom Bedards blog called Sand and Water Tables recently.  You really should have a look, it's quite inspiring what he's got going on. 

As I read and thought about his blog I realized something about myself.  On a bad day for me, like when I am tired or my back is sore or I am not feeling one hundred percent I find "dumping" a little hard to take.  Some kids are dumpers.  They see something on the shelf or in a basket and with one sweeping motion all of the items are on the floor.  Or sometimes they are more systematic with their dumping.  One item at a time and soon the floor is strewn with puzzle pieces or blocks or cars or whatever is at hand.  Does this ever happen in your daycare or home?  Have you ever just set up a beautiful provocation or invitation and a little one comes along and the way they choose to play is by dumping. I sometimes have to laugh at myself because after all I work in a toddler room and I know that this behavior is very normal for this age group.  I shouldn't really be surprised should I?  

Then I read THIS article, about Schemas.  We didn't study Schemas way back when I took my ECE course. I found the article interesting and very helpful. I realized that I was going about things the wrong way.  I was taking dumping personally, when really it is, I was reminded, a real need or urge for the child.  When I looked at what they were doing from this angle I was able to see that there was learning taking place.  That "Dumping" is actually "Transporting."  
Ah ha!   Tom Bedard gets this!  He understands that some children have a strong need or urge to transport. 

We recently got this old yellow sand box fixed.  It needed a new bottom and one week-end my hubby D had a few extra minutes and he fixed it for us. And we are so grateful.  This little one is so grateful.  The first day we opened it he played for two hours straight.  Well, he stopped for a little snack and then was right back at it.  He likes the sensory stuff, no doubt about it.  Two hours at one activity is a looooong time for a toddler.

At first he used the construction vehicles to move the sand.

He poured it into his hand and into the dump truck.

It's hard to tell from this photo but he has a laminated picture of himself (a people puppet) and he is putting it in as the driver of the monster truck.  

After playing this way for a very long time I noticed that he started looking for alternative places to put the sand.  I'm not really talking about the normal amount of spillage on the floor.  But more about his need or urge to transport the sand.

 He found the shelf below.

He spent a lot of time transporting the sand above to the shelf below. And guess what?  I was okay with that!  Because I understood what he was doing.  

I think that we can be more prepared for the need to transport by having a bucket or bin or different containers close by or by creating cardboard partitions in the sand box.


"Children's schemas are fundamental to them. Knowing about them makes a wonderful basis for you to better understand your child’s development and support them rather than become frustrated with their behaviours. Through understanding the idea of schemas, you may recognise and value your child’s underlying interests and needs." 


  1. Hi Ray-Ann, Thank you for the shout-out to my blog. Just to be clear, I am not the Teacher Tom from Seattle. I have been called Teacher Tom for the past 28 years, but only by the parents and children in my program. It is a nice alliteration, you know. You are so right, children need to transport and giving them a constructive way to do it is a win-win proposition. Thanks again. Tom

    1. Hi Tom, thanks for the clarification! I appreciate your work just the same! I love knowing there are men as strong educators in the childcare field as well! Keep up the great work.

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