In a Spin
Tyres are perfect open-ended resources and link well to children’s schemas, as Anne O’Connor observes…
Three-year-old Jordan is playing outdoors at nursery. He enjoys rolling around in the tunnel, watching the world spin by as he rotates his whole body over and over. Then he moves to play with the tyres. They are big and heavy but he soon has them under control.
There are older boys playing there too and he joins in with their game. The tyres become motorbikes and they ‘drive’ them around. When another child takes Jordan’s tyre from him, he is at first perturbed, but he knows where there are more tyres and quickly resumes his play by going off to get himself another one.
1 Jordan appears to have a particular interest in rotation. Not only does he like playing with things that go round and round, like the tyres, but he is also interested in experiencing rotation physically, using his whole body.
Rotation is very important for the development of the vestibular system in a child’s brain. Rolling over and over again inside the tunnel encourages Jordan’s brain to connect with his eyes to interpret what he is seeing in relation to both his sense of body movement and his position. Is it the world outside the tunnel that’s moving, or is it himself?
The sensations of movement and gravity are interacting with the messages that Jordan’s brain is receiving from all his muscles and joints, particularly those from his eyes and neck, as he rolls around in the tunnel. These muscles are really important in helping to organise the vestibular system, because through such activities as spinning and rolling, the muscles learn how to compensate for the movement of head and body…