A Pot of Gourd Soup - A Learning Story

 "As children engage with the world, they delve into inquiries, generate new ideas, solve problems, and build theories of people, places and materials. These engagements can be vibrant, exhilarating and noisy, or they can be quiet, focused and solitary.  Providing time, space and materials, rich with possibilities for experimenting, imagining and transforming allows children to create and explore in diverse ways based on their interests. Creating contexts for each child's engagement and participation is perhaps the most important way to inspire meaningful learning experiences."

 Early Learning Framework, page 75

  There are several large pots with lids, several large ladles and a platter of fabric vegetables and some small dried gourds.  There is also a small stove top placed on a white cupboard.  All of these items are tucked in a area under our kitchen counter. On the other side of the plexiglass is the 3-5 room.

One of the reasons I decided to set up this invitation to play was because I know that quite a few little ones are attracted to "kitchen" set ups and engage in play of this nature and we haven't played kitchen for a while.  My adult brain is thinking, maybe they will make vegetable soup.  I wonder what the children will do?

This little one is the first to notice a new play area.  I notice, in general, that she uses the whole room to explore and is very curious when new items are available.  I watch as she takes a dried gourd from the platter of vegetables and places it into a pot.  She uses the large ladle to give it a stir.  It seems like she might have had some experience with cooking and helping in the kitchen at home.  She seems proficient with this play.  

I notice she transfers the gourd using the ladle from one pot to another pot that was placed on a wood stump.  She then gives it a stir.  

It takes dexterity and fine motor skill to preform the tasks she is doing.  She is using planning skills. As I watch her, I realize she is passing the ladle over to me as if to indicate that I should take a bite.  "Yummy!" I exclaim to her. I remember there have been other times when she has offered something to someone.  It seems like a gesture of hospitality and I wonder if she has seen her family serving others.  It seems to be a very kind action that she extends to others.
 Then I notice a little friend beside me holding out a fabric mushroom to her.  Does he want her to have it? I wonder.  She does not take the mushroom. 
This little exchange is non verbal for both children.  It makes me think about all of the ways that we communicate with others.  Actions and gestures have meaning and are used long before young children use words.
 As I continue to observe and tune into her body language,  I realize that she stills her actions.  She seems to be waiting.  I shift my body over to the side a bit more and the little friend beside moves over too.  That creates an opening from the little cubby where she has been cooking.

She quickly picks up her ladle and pot with the gourd still inside and moves to the far side of the room.  I wonder if she is preferring solitary play at this moment?

She sets the pot up on the window sill beside some other toy items that are lined up there.  I thought she might put some of those items into her pot but she seems content with just the gourd.

She climbs up onto the saddle, backwards, and notices something out the window.  Did the light catch her eye or was it something else?  Once she is balanced on the saddle she reaches for the pot and ladle and gives it another vigorous stir.

When she is done stirring, she slips down off the saddle and places her pot and ladle on the window sill.

And that is the end of this play for the moment.  I see her run over to the magnet toys.

Children are given permission, in our room, to move materials around as they need too.  We believe that this allows them to exercise their creativity and imagination and therefore supports their learning. Early childhood educators who design spaces with care, understand the significance of having a variety of play spaces and a variety of play materials.

It's okay for the pot to stay there. She will either come back to it or else it will provoke play for someone else.

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