Friday, 20 May 2011

Going through or round a boundary

Going through a boundary schema - causing oneself or some material to go through a boundary and emerge at the other side, (Arnold 2010)

A child following a fascination with things or oneself that goes through a boundary may enjoy:
  • Threading Activities
  • Tying Knots
  • Crawling through a tunnel
  • Tying items up
  • Watching water or sand run through holes (plant pots/ colander)

This two year old is not interested in the water wheel spinning or in the  trajectory of the water pouring out of the cup. She is fascinated and watching the water as it passes through the boundary of the water wheel and emerges out of the other side.

Children interested in items going through boundaries will enjoy:
  • Marble runs
  • Circle Games
  • Tunnels
  • String/Rope
  • Going through doorways and into another room
  • Going through one area of space into another
  • Watching water go through the boundary of the sink hole
  • Watching water going thorugh pipes and coming out the other side.
  • Watching trains go though tunnels.
  • Lentils through the holes of a colander or funnel

This boy watches again and again a tube passing through a bridge

Looking through a boundary
Children love to go through the boundary of a tunnel

Athey makes a link between this schema, and some of the others she observed: 'the schemas going through, enveloping, containing and going round were closely related and it was sometimes difficult to differentiate between them', (Athey 1990:153).

This child shows an interest in placing rings over the top of  a post thus allowing the post to 'go through the boundary' of the ring. 

Tuesday, 10 May 2011


A child who is fascinated with putting one thing inside another could be following a containment schema.
This girl uses the marked enclosures to place the  animals thereby containing them.

These children fill a large bag with soil.

Lots of children like to contain soil in pots
Children fascinated with containing may:
  • Like to put buttons into boxes and pennies in buckets
  • Like putting things in bags and pots
  • Enjoy shape sorting toys
  • Like to climb into and sit in boxes
  • Love filling up buckets with sand
        • Draw or paint pictures then draw circles or boxes around them.    
If a child has a containment schema they will appreciate it if you provide:
  • Pots and things they can fill them with
  • Containers to fill in the bath or sink
  • Dry play such as pasta and pots to fill
  • Boxes and tents to go in.
Please be aware that this schema can be linked to the transporting schema (containers to be filled) and similar to enclosing (filling bottles with water) (and lining them up (trajectory). It is therefore important to note:
WHAT IS THE CHILD'S INTEREST? Then you will know the difference.

 For example is your child interested in the filling of the barrow (containment) or transporting it?(transporting)
Is your child pouring water into the cup and stopping when it is full (containment) OR are they actually watching while the water pours out of the jug (trajectory) therefore the cup automatically overfills.

It is so important to TUNE into the child and see WHAT they are looking at as opposed to what they are doing.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Good Gracious me! Did you say, On Top!

'Harry and Georgia are throwing small, plastic balls onto the roof of the lean-to and giggling as the balls roll to the edge and fall back down,' (Arnold 2003:43)
Children following an on top schema are interested in the concepts of  'up/down' 'over', 'under' and 'on top'. They normally like to:
This boy climbs a tree in nursery
closely supervised by staff.
No other child that day
copied or wanted to climb
the tree.

  • climb on top of furniture, trees, walls, climbing frames, etc.
  • play with toys on top of tables or cupboards instead of on the floor
  • put items on top of their head, like hats, cones, etc
  • balance on top of objects and walk along like a wall or balance beams
  • pat an adult gently on top of their head to gain attention.
Children pursuing an on top schema are expert at what they do. They are constantly climbing again and again and therefore gain lots of experience. They have a head for heights and will tend to climb higher than their peers. Some staff and parents worry that other children will copy this behaviour; however children will rarely copy behaviour they are not comfortable or confident with.

A cone 'on top' of his head.

Balancing 'on top' of the crates

    This boy climbs up using
    the rope to pull him up