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A Big Tower

a tower of blocks

About this Video

The video takes place in a toddler room of a university laboratory child care and preschool. Anna (28 months) is building a tower alone with large interlocking blocks. Kenyon (26 months) runs in and knocks over her new tower. Anna takes it in stride, and Kenyon helps her rebuild. He promptly knocks over their new tower. Although the teacher is off-camera interacting with other children, she comments on Anna’s work and is aware of what was happening.



Note: There is a great deal of background noise nearby.

Anna is working on a tower of blocks. She walks over to the shelf to pick up blocks and adds them to the top of the tower.

Anna: A big tower.

She continues to build and looks to where a teacher is sitting off-screen. At one point, she is holding two blocks and trying to put one on the top of the tower. She has to put one block down so that she can use two hands to build.

Teacher (off-camera): Oh my goodness, Anna, that’s really getting tall. That’s really getting tall. (Anna looks at the teacher.)

The teacher says Kenyon’s name as he knocks the tower over.

Anna: Oh no.

Teacher (off-camera): Can I go help. … Can I go help Anna a minute? I guess she’s OK. I guess she’s OK.

Anna begins to build another tower, and Kenyon helps, taking turns placing blocks on top.

Anna: A tower. A tower for me. Please. Please. Please.

Anna walks over to pick up another block, and Kenyon knocks the tower down again.

Kenyon: “I did it again!” (as he smiles and walks away).

Anna: Oh no.

Illinois Early Learning Guidelines for Children Birth to Age Three and strategies that caregivers used

Self-Regulation: Foundation of Development
Emotional Regulation
Children demonstrate the emerging ability to identify and manage the expression of emotion in accordance with social and cultural contexts.

  • Strategies for interaction (21-36 months): Provide balance in both supporting the child and allowing the child space to work through situations independently; use the child’s cues to decide what he or she needs
  • Action: The teacher provided balance in both supporting Anna and allowing her space to work through situations independently. The teacher was aware that Kenyon knocked down the tower but did not rush to intervene.

Self-Regulation: Foundation of Development
Attention Regulation
Children demonstrate the emerging ability to process stimuli, focus and sustain attention, and maintain engagement in accordance with social and cultural contexts.

  • Strategies for interaction (21-36 months): Observe the child during play and limit adult-directed interruptions while engaged
  • Action: The teacher observed Anna and Kenyon during play and did not intervene when the interaction could have presented conflict.

Developmental Domain 1: Social & Emotional Development
Relationship with Peers
Children demonstrate the desire and develop the ability to engage and interact with other children.

  • Strategies for interaction (21-36 months):
    • Provide toys that can be played with by two or more children at a time
    • Provide activities that encourage sharing, while limiting the risk for frustration
  • Action: The block center contained enough blocks for two or more children to play at a time, which encouraged Anna and Kenyon to work together.

Developmental Domain 2: Physical Development & Health
Fine Motor
Children demonstrate the ability to coordinate their small muscles in order to move and control objects.

  • Strategies for interaction (21-36 months): Provide experiences and objects that promote fine-motor development
  • Action: The large blocks provided by the center make it easier for young children learn how to move and control objects.

Approaches to Learning
Confidence & Risk-Taking
Children demonstrate a willingness to participate in new experiences and confidently engage in risktaking.

  • Strategies for interaction (21-36 months): Provide the child with opportunities to problem-solve on their own, intervening only when the child appears to become frustrated and/or asks for help
  • Action: The teacher let Anna figure out how to build the tower on her own and decide whether she needed help. She didn’t jump in when Kenyon knocked over Anna’s tower, waiting to see if any conflict would arise and whether they could work it out themselves.

About this resource

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

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

Age Levels (the age of the children to whom the article applies):
Related IEL Birth to Three Guidelines:
Reviewed: 2017