32 Chapter 2
Joshua sat at the table at the beginning of playtime. He began to explore the
paper in various ways. He touched it, tried to tear it with his fingers, and tried
to cut the paper with the scissors. His attention shifted to the scissors. He put
his fingers through both pairs of the scissors and began to open and close them,
examining his actions as he worked. After several minutes of trying this action
with scissors, he called out, “I can do two together.”
Saying, “Joshua is working with scissors” is not a story worth telling. In fact, if
you look on the surface, you may stop Joshua’s exploration on behalf of using
the scissors safely and in the correct manner. If you did this, you would miss
the depth and importance of this experience for him. When you notice the
details, you are able to marvel at this remarkable childhood moment of explo-
ration and discovery. You can support Joshua’s disposition to be a self-directed
learner rather than repeatedly correcting his behavior. Using observation skills
to assemble the details of the story reveals the richness of the activity. As more
and more details come to light, you will notice that these seemingly ordinary,
and sometimes challenging, childhood moments offer important opportunities
for children to learn about themselves and the world they live in.
Practice Describing the Details
You can also practice noticing details in experiences unrelated to children.
This activity can serve as a self-assessment of your skills in describing details.
For this activity, you will need another person and two identical sets of small
building blocks or toys.
1 Sit back-to-back with a partner. Each of you should have one of the
sets of blocks or toys.
2 Build a structure or arrange a design with your blocks.
3 Describe to your partner the building or design you have made. Your
partner must try to duplicate the building or design by listening to
your directions without looking at what you have done. Neither of you
should ask questions.
4 When your partner has finished, look at the outcome together.
Discuss what worked and what didn’t work about the directions that
5 Switch roles and have the other person take the lead. Follow the same
procedures, but see if what you have learned from the first round can
help you in this round.
6 When you are finished, consider the differences between the two
rounds of building.