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Tattoos and Teakettles: “Housekeeping” Conversations

About this video

In this video, three preschool girls interact with each other and their teacher in the dramatic play area during choice time. They attend a state-funded half-day bilingual preschool classroom. Instruction is given in both Spanish and English, and children may use either language during the times scheduled for self-directed activity.

The video shows Victoria (age 5), Micaela (age 5.7), and Mandi (age 5.8) during what is sometimes called “housekeeping play,” when they collect food, prepare the table, and pretend to eat. We also see the teacher taking opportunities to build relationships with them. Their interactions with her and with each other show they are able to meet several benchmarks in language arts and social/emotional development.

Building Teacher-Child Relationships

The video shows several ways that the teacher enhances her relationships with the children during their dramatic play.

Observing and being available
At first, the teacher shows interest in what the girls are doing but doesn’t try to enter their play. When Mandi and Micaela interrupt their play to speak to her, the teacher comes closer, kneeling so that she is close to their height, with the play stove and sink between them. She asks Victoria if she needs help moving the mirror.

Giving psychological support
When Mandi says she is afraid of the masks that the class has used for a literacy activity, the teacher assures her that the masks are “not real.”

Extending conversations
In Part 1, when Micaela shows the teacher her temporary tattoo, the teacher’s questions encourage her to talk about it. When Mandi joins in, the teacher asks her about the tattoo she wants to get.

Supporting and extending pretend play
In Part 1, the teacher acknowledges that the children are pretending after Victoria has her move her hands from the stove top: “Oh, sorry. It’s the food. I don’t want to eat it up.” In Part 2, she gives them practical information that helps them make the play more complex. Noticing that the girls are playing with a toy teakettle, she asks if the girls have heated the water in the kettle. She playfully warns Victoria that she will “get burned” leaning on the stove. She then talks to the girls about turning off burners that are not in use and about what teakettles do when the water boils. Micaela soon announces that “smoke is coming out” of the teakettle.

Meeting Benchmarks During Pretend Play

Mandi, Micaela, and Victoria address several benchmarks in language arts and social-emotional development during this video of a housekeeping play session.

Language Arts
The children are involved in several instances of back-and-forth talk with the teacher or with each other. They respond appropriately to their teacher’s questions about a variety of topics—Mandi’s feelings about masks, Micaela’s temporary tattoo, Victoria’s efforts to move the mirror, and their use of the toy teakettle. The girls ask questions and use complete sentences that reflect standard grammar and word use in their home language (“Where are the things?” “No, Micaela, you have a basket.”).

Social/Emotional Development
Mandi, Micaela, and Victoria are able to coordinate their activities as they set the table and eat a pretend meal. Although we do not see their decision-making process, it appears that, at least for a time, Mandi has the parent role, trying to be in charge of what Micaela and Victoria put on their plates and telling Micaela to finish eating. However, Micaela will only take so much food and tells Mandi “Enough! OK?”

The girls’ verbal interactions and negotiations with each other are brief, and their play is relatively low on conflict (for example, “I want that.” “No, that’s for me.”), which suggests that they have compatible understandings of what will take place. Victoria also invites the teacher to participate in this shared understanding by warning her that her hands are on the food.

Victoria also has a brief, friendly, nonverbal interaction with Aladio (age 4.4); they turn knobs and move the faucet of the play sink while the teacher talks to Micaela and Mandi. (Aladio ultimately leaves the area without really trying to join the girls’ play.)

When Mandi says she is afraid of the masks used in class, she shows she can recognize and express a basic emotion. The girls all seem to interact easily with the teacher. They get her attention appropriately (asking and answering questions, showing her a tattoo, etc.) and seem comfortable having her participate briefly in their kitchen play.


Note: The dialog in this video is primarily in Spanish. For an English translation, you can choose English under the closed caption feature in the video player (above) or click on Transcript (below).


The girls and their teacher speak Spanish. The English transcript below is a translation.

Part 1

Victoria, Micaela, and Mandi set the table for an imaginary meal. Victoria pretends to pour from a teapot into three cups while Micaela and Mandi look for (plastic) food.

Micaela: Where are the things? Oh!

The three girls gather food. Victoria holds two empty baskets. Micaela gathers food in her hands from a basket on the floor.

Victoria: No, Micaela, you have a basket.

Victoria offers Micaela a basket but gets no response. Mandi does not take a basket from her either. Mandi asks Victoria a question (unclear in the recording) and then goes to the play stove and leans over it to talk to the teacher, who is off-camera on the other side.

Teacher: What’s up?

Mandi: (unclear)

Teacher: Right now just play, and tomorrow I´ll take out some other masks.

Victoria has placed the two baskets that she was carrying by the window. She approaches Micaela, who picks up a basket, looks at it, drops it on the toy bed, and goes to join Mandi near the teacher. Victoria picks up the dropped food, returns it to the basket and joins the others at the stove. A boy, Aladio, arrives. He looks at the food, picks up a piece, and puts it back.

Mandi says something to the teacher that seems to be about the masks.

Teacher: The ones from the “Three Little Pigs”? But we have to read the book first. And then tomorrow you can take them.

Mandi: My mom … and my dad likes them but … I get scared.

Teacher: You do? But the … that we had from the other ones, did you like that one?

Mandi: No.

Teacher: No, right?

Mandi says something that is unclear. Aladio and Victoria turn knobs on the sink and move the faucet.

Teacher: No, no, no, they’re not for real, they’re not real.

Micaela: Teacher, look.

She shows the teacher a temporary tattoo on her upper right arm.

Teacher: Oh, you have a tattoo?

Victoria is rubbing Micaela’s tattoo with her finger.

Teacher: It’s a tattoo of a what?

Micaela: Butterfly.

Teacher: A butterfly.

Victoria shows her wrist to the teacher, who takes her hand.

Teacher: Oh, yours is rubbing off.

Aladio leaves the area.

Mandi: My daddy is going to buy me a bracelet tomorrow.

Teacher: A bracelet? (To Micaela) Who put it on you?

Micaela: My mommy.

Teacher: Your mommy?

Micaela and Victoria go to other parts of the kitchen. Victoria moves a standing mirror.

Mandi: And he’s going to buy me a tattoo, too.

Teacher: A tattoo? He’s going to buy you a tattoo? Of what? Do you know?

Mandi: Ummm, of the Three Little Pigs.

Teacher: Oh, of the Three Little Pigs? Let’s see if you find one.

Micaela stands holding the pantry door open. Mandi picks up a basket of food.

Teacher: Do you need help, Victoria?

Victoria: Uh uh.

Teacher: No? Are you OK?

Victoria: No.

Teacher: You’re not OK?

Victoria: I’m OK.

Teacher: Ah, you’re OK.

The teacher is resting her hands on the food that the girls had arranged.

Victoria: Teacher … your hands. (She lifts the teacher’s hands off the food.)

Teacher: I’m going to have … oh, sorry. It’s the food. I don’t want to eat it up.

Micaela puts food in the three place settings at the table. Victoria and the teacher continue to chat. Victoria picks up a slice of watermelon and shows it to the teacher.

Teacher: You don’t cook it or eat it the way it comes, right? You cut it up?

Micaela sits down at the table, and Victoria brings more food. Victoria tries to give Micaela some broccoli. The teacher has a conversation with a child off-camera.

Victoria: Do you like broccoli?

Micaela: No.

Victoria puts the broccoli on Mandi’s plate instead. Mandi comes to the table with a basket of food.

Victoria (to Mandi): Do you like broccoli? I want some grapes.

Victoria takes a bunch of grapes from Mandi’s basket.

Mandi: No! Finish eating …

Mandi takes the grapes from Victoria and returns them to the basket. Victoria takes out the watermelon slice and puts it on her plate.

Victoria: I want that.

Mandi: No! That was for me.

Mandi takes the watermelon from Victoria and puts it on her own plate. She gives Victoria something else from the basket.

Micaela: (to Mandi) Enough! OK?

Victoria pretends to eat up all of her food. A moment later, she takes the food off her plate, leaves the table, and puts her food away in the pantry.

Part 2

Victoria gathers things from the counter and puts them away in the pantry; Mandi joins Micaela near the window and indicates to her that the table needs to be cleared. Micaela puts her plate in the sink and her food in the pantry; Mandi starts to pick up the items from Victoria´s place.

Micaela takes the teapot to the table, pretends to fill the cups, and returns to the sink.

The teacher is behind the stove.

Teacher: Ah, the teapot. Did you fill it with water?

Micaela: No.

Teacher: Did you put water in it?

Micaela: Yes.

Teacher: Did you put it on the stove?

Victoria and Micaela indicate that they did. Victoria is leaning on the stove.

Teacher: You´re going to get burned!

Victoria jumps backward. The teacher then talks to the girls about the burners on the stove.

Teacher: Oh, is it turned off? OK, turn it all the way off. Put it on … on … here.

Micaela puts the teapot on a back burner. Victoria begins to turn all of the knobs on the stove.

Teacher: Turn it on … no, you only have to turn on one. These, these three don’t have anything on them. Turn on one. OK, wait. Did you know that teapots let you know when the water is ready, and they holler? They say “uuuuu” and smoke comes out of here, and then the water is ready. And it’s good for coffee.

Micaela: Smoke is coming out of it!

She takes the teapot to the table and “refills” the three cups.

Teacher: Already? Did it already whistle? Did it holler at you? Uuuuu—then it’s ready, OK.

Victoria: Yes, it’s ready.

The children return to the table.


Benchmarks and How They Were Met

BenchmarksHow They Were Met
Language Arts
1.A.ECb: Respond appropriately to questions from others.
Mandi, Micaela, and Victoria replied to questions from their teacher, showing that they understood what she was asking.
Language Arts
1.B.ECc: Continue a conversation through two or more exchanges.
Mandi’s conversation with the teacher about masks involved several exchanges, as did the conversation between Micaela and the teacher about the tattoo. The girls’ play conversation (starting with “Do you like broccoli?” and ending with “Enough. Okay?”) involved a series of exchanges.
Physical Development and Health
19.A.ECc: Use strength and control to accomplish tasks.
For Victoria, moving the mirror involved strength and muscle control.
English Language Learner Home Language Development
28.A.ECa: May demonstrate progress and mastery of benchmarks through home language.
Mandi, Micaela, and Victoria spoke their home language while meeting benchmarks in language arts and social-emotional development.
English Language Learner Home Language Development
29.A.ECa: Use home cultural and linguistic knowledge to express current understandings and construct new concepts.
Mandi, Micaela, and Victoria listened as the teacher talked about teakettles in Spanish. Micaela and Victoria then incorporated that information into their play.
Social/emotional Development
30.A.ECa: Recognize and label basic emotions.
Mandi told the teacher that she was “scared” of the masks they had been using in class.
Social/emotional Development
30.A.ECe: Use materials with purpose, safety, and respect.
Mandi and Micaela put dishes and plastic food away when they finished pretending to eat.
Social/emotional Development
31.A.ECc: Interact easily with familiar adults.
All three girls appeared to be comfortable talking with their teacher about various topics.
Social/emotional Development
31.B.ECa: Interact verbally and nonverbally with other children.
Aladio and Victoria made eye contact and played with the toy sink, turning knobs and the faucet together.
Social/emotional Development
31.B.ECb: Engage in cooperative group play.
The girls coordinated their actions while pretending to serve and eat a meal and while cleaning up afterward. They talked to each other about what they were doing as their play unfolded. Mandi seemed to have an adult role—she gave food to Micaela and Victoria, and when she told Victoria to finish eating, Victoria did as she said.

WIDA Early English Language Development Standards (E-ELDs)

To assess and make curriculum decisions regarding children whose home language is Spanish, Illinois educators use the Early Spanish Language Development (E-SLD) Standards, developed by World-class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. The observational data described here would be useful for planning instruction. However, a teacher would need multiple pieces of evidence to evaluate a child’s performance level.

Receptive language. Micaela replied to the teacher’s questions about her tattoo, indicating that that she understood and could respond to a variety of question forms. Mandi’s responses to the teacher’s comments and questions about masks indicate that she understood most of these relatively lengthy sentences and questions. (The fact that she answered “No” when the teacher asked if she had “filled” the teakettle with water, but “yes” when asked “did you put water in it?” may indicate that she understood general, but not specific, vocabulary related to putting water in a teakettle. The teacher would need to ask Micaela a similar question in another situation to find out what she understands.) After the teacher described what teapots do when water is ready, Micaela asserted that “smoke” was coming out of their teapot, using the same vocabulary the teacher used.

Expressive language. Mandi explained her feelings about masks and compared them to her parents’ feelings. Victoria asked Mandi and Micaela if they like broccoli, and Micaela replied “No.” Mandi asserted that she wanted the watermelon piece Victoria took. Micaela used her language to negotiate a limit on the amount of food on her plate, telling Mandi, “Enough! Okay?” Her comment about “smoke” coming out is also expressive language.

The children used grammatically standard sentences of four to seven words related to ongoing conversations; some of Mandi’s sentences were even longer. Mandi used specific vocabulary (bracelet, tattoo). Victoria used technical vocabulary related to carrying and eating food (basket, broccoli, grapes).

Micaela showed some limited evidence of translanguaging. When she wanted to show the teacher her tattoo, she said “Maestra, look” instead of “Maestra, mira.” Neither Mandi nor Victoria used any English words during the clip.

Based on what is shown in the video, a teacher might consider Mandi’s, Victoria’s, and Micaela’s E-SLD performance for receptive language to be at the “bridging” level. Mandi’s and Victoria’s E-SLD performance for expressive language may be at the “bridging” level. However, children may use language(s) differently in different contexts (home, community, school) and situations (pretend play, direct instruction, project work). For example, in some other settings, Micaela was recorded speaking more, and with more complete sentences, than she did in this video. The teacher would need to collect additional data across settings, conversation partners, and time to gain a full picture of each child’s receptive and expressive language capabilities in Spanish.

About this resource

Setting(s) for which the article is intended:
  • Family Child Care
  • Child Care Center
  • Preschool Program

Intended audience(s):
  • Teachers / Service providers
  • Faculty / Trainer

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