On Friday I set up a provocation with some paper cups on the table in the Nest. I put either a ball or an egg shaker under each cup, and I envisioned this provocation as an experiment for the children in object permanence, with an added element of surprise so the children could build theories about what would be under each cup. The little children love peek-a-boo, and so they were definitely intrigued by finding either a ball or a shaker under each cup. They covered and uncovered the toys with the cups many times.
As this went on for awhile, I thought I’d throw another provocation into the mix. I picked up a cup, held it to my mouth and said, “Hello!” then pulled the cup away and said hello again. The children all watched me do this several times, and I wondered if they noticed that the sound was amplified when I held the cup to my mouth. The children went back to covering and uncovering the balls and shakers. Then I saw MC pick up a cup, hold it to her mouth and say, “Hewooo Hewooo” very softly. I picked up a cup, and said, “Ba ba ba” into the cup and away from the cup. MC smiled. HB said “Ba ba.” After a few minutes I saw FD and BL both hold cups to their mouths silently. I thought maybe that was the end of it, wondering if and in what ways the children had connected with the provocation.
I was surprised to find that one of the children picked up the experiment with the cups later in the morning, when we went out to the backyard. FD found a plastic cup in the grass. She crawled to the cup, held it to her mouth, and said “Ba ba ba!” She pulled the cup back, repeating the sounds, then put the cup back to her mouth, again saying “Ba.”
Often that’s the pace of learning with young children, and this was a good reminder for me. Children react at different rates, and sometimes it takes awhile for them to “catch up,” or to process what they’ve experienced. We might see traces or echoes of what they’ve seen and heard come up much later than expected.