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Explaining Cradle Construction

child with box

About this video

Children in Judy Cagle’s mixed-age prekindergarten class decided to make a crib as part of a project on babies. The children started to make the crib by cutting away cardboard to form bars on two sides of a cardboard box. Once they sawed the pieces of cardboard to make the bars, they found that there was no way to keep the bars from flopping outward. This situation was frustrating to the children, since they wanted the bars to stand up straight. They tried to solve the problem by using rubber bands to hold the bars together. That caused the bottom of the box to pull up on either end, making the box rock. When the children discovered what they had done, the crib became a rocking cradle! They painted and decorated the cradle and were quite proud of it. They decorated the baby room with stars and moons, because that was the way that one of their families was decorating the room for an expected baby.

The children learned many things about babies as they progressed through this baby project. In a letter to the parents of the children, their teacher, Judy Cagle, said, “It is interesting to see how carefully they now handle the dolls when they are playing in the baby room. We see many behaviors (burping the dolls, talking about being careful with the dolls, gently handing the dolls from one child to another) that we had not observed prior to this project.”

In this video clip, one boy explains the construction of the cradle to three girls and answers their questions. Julian was finishing his 4-year-old year before kindergarten, and Camille and Adriana were finishing their 3-year-old year before kindergarten.



Part 1

Julian carries baby doll to the bed.

Camille (purple): That’s the changing table.

Julian: (Pointing toward the wall.) No, that’s the changing table.

Visiting Teacher: (Points.) That’s the changing table.

Visiting 1st Grader: Oh, that’s the changing table.

Camille: (Smiling.) That’s the changing table.

Adriana: That’s the changing table.

Visiting 1st Grader and Adriana: (Pointing.) And that’s the bed.

Julian: (Pointing.) And that pillow over there that they’re making out of a pillow is mine.

Visiting Teacher: Oh, okay (reaches toward cradle). So, how do you get the…

Adriana: How do you get it to rock?

Julian: We just put rubber bands on here, because the baby would fall out. And then we sawed that it rocks (rocks cradle).

Adriana: Well, why’d you put tape on the rubber bands?

Julian: I don’t know (shrugging his shoulders).

Visiting Teacher: Probably to hold it together.

Camille: Probably to keep it staying on there so it won’t pop up…

Julian: Oh, it’s because we had too much things in here, and it wouldn’t carry a lot of things in here. It would like stretch. It would stretch out, and it wouldn’t rock any more. But we taped it, and it will rock a little bit.

Part 2

Julian: (Pointing to bottom of cradle.) This is the bed that makes the bed soft on the bottom.

Visiting 1st Grader: Are you saying you used a purple pillow for a mattress?

Julian nods.

Visiting Teacher: Cool.

Adriana: (Pointing to the purple pillow.) Yeah, the purple pillow is for the mattress (waves hand up and down at side of cradle). All that right there… All these pillows is the mattress.

Camille: (Pointing to center bars of cradle.) This part is like soap.

Adriana: No, these are boxes.

Camille: I know, this is the box, and the paint, the paint is real smooth.

Julian: We painted the boxes the same color.

Part 3

Three girls rock the cradle together as they talk in overlapping conversations.

Benchmarks and How They Were Met

BenchmarksHow They Were Met
Language Arts
1.A.ECb: Respond appropriately to questions from others.
Julian answered questions and clarified statements made by the girls.
Language Arts
1.A.ECc: Provide comments relevant to the context.
Julian and the girls used words and gestures to communicate about the cradle.
Language Arts
1.B.ECc: Continue a conversation through two or more exchanges.
Camille, Julian, and Adriana had a conversation with a visiting teacher and a first-grader that continued through several exchanges.
Language Arts
1.D.ECc: Understand and use question words in speaking.
Camille and Adriana listened to Julian’s explanation and asked questions to find out details about the construction of the cradle.
Social Studies
16.A.ECa: Recall information about the immediate past.
Julian explained how they began to make a crib and discovered it would make a better cradle after they attached the bars with rubber bands.
Social/emotional Development
31.C.ECa: Begin to share materials and experiences and take turns.
The girls cooperatively rocked the cradle.

Note: This video clip was made possible by STARnet Regions I & III with funding from the Illinois State Board of Education.

About this resource

Setting(s) for which the article is intended:
  • Preschool Program

Intended audience(s):
  • Teachers / Service providers

Age Levels (the age of the children to whom the article applies):
Related Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards:
Reviewed: 2017