A Rolling Pin Problem

Theo, Jake and Iris are standing around a table with clay, mallets and rolling pins. They are fully engaged in their own pursuits, seemingly unaware of one another.

That is until Jake spots the rolling pin in Theo’s hand. Jake looks at Theo, looks at the rolling pin, looks back at Theo….the message is clear, he wants the rolling pin. Jake notices Theo eying the rolling pin and immediately tucks the rolling pin protectively under his arm. Theo retreats, head hanging down, recognizing there is no hope for him and the rolling pin. But Jake sees how sad Theo is, reconsiders, and holds the rolling pin out gesturing for him to to take it. Theo however, doesn’t see the gesture and continues retreating, head hanging low.


Iris has been watching keenly,  and knows exactly what is going on…..she quickly grabs the rolling pin from Jake’s hand and deftly thrusts it in front of Theo’s face to make sure he sees it. Theo takes the rolling pin and turns back to roll a piece of clay in front of him.

All three continue with their own clay pursuits, again seemingly unaware of each other.

I observed this small interaction, it happened silently, quickly, and without drama. These children were communicating, understanding a problem, finding a solution, reading non verbal cues, negotiating, showing empathy, understanding, and generosity. And all of them were 3 years old or less.

How many of these moments happen in a day among children? How many acts of generosity, of understanding do we miss?

How many times do we impose our solution to a rolling pin problems? We seem  certain that our help is needed, that a solution cannot be found without us.

Jake, Theo and Iris didn’t need me or  my ideas. They didn’t even need words. It really wasn’t a problem at all.

About Kim

Kim is an admitted ECE geek. She and Danielle have bonded over their shared geekdom and have come to terms with it. She is a pedagogical facilitator working with educators in a number of early learning settings supporting and extending new thinking and practice. She loves reading, writing, talking and sharing ideas about the potentials of teaching and learning with ece's and young children. ECE geeks unite!

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