As Director here at ECM, one of the best things about my job is that I get to watch little ones learning through play in many different ways in our exhibits and programs. Last month we had some unseasonably warm days here in Edwardsville, IL. We love it when that happens because then we can open our Discovery Garden exhibits. As I walked through the garden, setting out blocks and musical instruments for the kids to use, I happened upon something wonderful.
In the Sand Box two little ones were working together to build a bridge. With no arguing, they shared shovels and buckets as they built up the sand and then dug a tunnel underneath it. They then drove a couple of “cars” (which were really rocks) over their creation to test its strength. They continued to add more and more “cars” until the bridge toppled over. Did they become discouraged? No, they discussed improvements they could make together to build a stronger structure and then….they did! As I watched them jumping up and down and high-fiving each other, I couldn’t help but think about how these two little ones had only met that very morning here in our sandbox and had already become friends and were able to work together to successfully build a rather complicated structure. They used measurement to build up the sand for the bridge, they learned about structural stability through testing the sand bridge with rocks, they kicked their imaginations into gear to visualize the rocks as cars, and they used interpersonal skills to solve problems together, all without breaking a sweat. Most importantly, they had fun!
Dr. Abby Schwent, ECM’s Director