Students in Burlington Children’s Space’s Young Toddler classroom have been collecting objects while walking through our Old North End neighborhood of Burlington, VT. This social practice of collecting began last year when the students were in the Infant Room, and remains a robust facet of their classroom culture. Unlike their older counterparts, who are collecting mostly plant-based materials from the community, these students are attracted to primarily to rocks and wayward bits of paper, metal, and plastic. Yes, street garbage is the toolkit of their research.
Anything found and kept for their collection becomes a tool for manipulating dough in a subsequent classroom encounter. Each tool makes a different mark depending on its composition; the angle and force with which it is manipulated. Marks made and temporary sculptures pave the road to imaginative play as narrative language skills take root in the classroom.
With collected tools and dough, these toddlers invoked:
“I don’t know.”