| By Mira Tanna |
It’s Wednesday in the story room, and there is some calming music playing in the background while twenty toddlers are hard at work.
A girl is using a dropper to squeeze colored water onto a coffee filter. She is practicing her pincer grasp which will be useful when she starts to write. “Ava” is also building her skills of scientific reasoning, watching the yellow water turn the white filter a very light yellow, then watching another part of the filter turn reddish and – surprise! – seeing the area where the two colors bleed into each other turn orange. Ava’s mom hovers nearby, making sure Ava doesn’t dump colored water on the floor and helping her turn an already colored filter into a butterfly by putting a pipe cleaner in the middle.
Other kids are matching painted clothes pins to corresponding paint chips from the paint store. These children are learning to match and compare, honing their powers of observation as they differentiate between cerulean blue, azure and blueberry.
The most popular table has sandboxes—five plastic bins filled with sand. Using common kitchen utensils like spatulas, strainers and ladles, kids dig up painted pasta, buttons and other surprises buried in the sand. Children are using problem solving skills: How can I separate the colored pasta from the surrounding sand? Which tools work best to accomplish this task? And wow – that shower of sand raining down from the slotted spoon is sure cool!