Talking about Taking Turns

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By Laurie

The concept of turn taking has been something we have been working on with special focus, especially since the word “mine!” started sweeping through Elm House and subsequent grabbing and pushing in regards to toys. The following is a conversation between myself and some of our older children, who worked together to set up an imaginary firefighter game. They made some decisions about ringing a bell in the game using a range of sharing language they’ve clearly practiced, though at first they all wanted to ring the bell at the same time, and with the same tool:

LN  “What are we going to do about the fire?”
ER  “I’m going to spray it out.”
LN “You are going to spray the fire out?”
ER “Yeah.”
LN “What do you think CG? What do you think LS? How do we put the fire out?”
CG “I don’t know”
ER “FFFFFFFFF” (spraying noise, rings frog bell)
CG (says something far off)
LN What should we do says CG?”
ER “Spray it out!”
LN “LS’s ringing the bell!”
ER “Out!”
LN “ER’s spraying the fire!”
ER “Can I have— how many minutes with that?” (points at spoon in LS’s hand)
LS “No.”
ER “Why are you saying no?”
LS “Because the fire’s in the tree.”
LN “Oh, fire’s in the tree. I wonder if ER can ring the frog bell with a stick? Or her hand?”
LS “A stick.”
ER “No… a shovel.”
LN “A shovel! Good idea!”
ER”Where is there a shovel?”
LS”There’s a red shovel! There you go!” (hands a shovel to ER)
LN”Now Er has a shovel and LS has a spoon.”(all ringing the bell)
LS”No I can do that”(sounding angry)
ER”Ring it so many times (to LS) cause the fire’s in the tree!”
LS”Can I do it?”(everybody ringing)
ER”No, no, no, no you can’t.” (frustrated)

LN”What if ER rings it, and then says, “LS’s turn!” and then LS rings it, and when she’s done says “ER’s turn!”… that’s called taking turns!”
ER”First you go, and then me. Is it my turn?”
LS”2 minutes.”
LN”When you are done you can say, “ER’s turn!”‘
MS”ER’s turn! Er’s turn!”
(ER steps up, LS steps back)
LN”Oh it’s ER’s turn! Er, when you are done you can say, CG’s turn!”
ER”First I need to ring it more times and then fire’s gonna spray out!”(rings bell)
LS”There’s too much fire!”
LN “There’s a lot of fire in the tree, huh?”
ER “Yeah! Huh? Do you think it’s a lot of fire over the tree and over on top of the tree!”
LN “Oh! Is it CG’s turn? She wants to join in!”
CG “Me!” (ER steps back, CG steps up)
LN “CG rang the bell!”

From here, this group moved on to finding objects that might or might not fit through a plastic tube we were using as a ball run, which had come off of the fence. They had worked on some skill-building and problem-solving together and continued the work of turns, working together, and sharing resources by putting their heads together about a problem in the non-imaginary world.


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