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A Tower Together

Colorful plastic blocks

About this video

The video takes place in a toddler room of a university laboratory child care and preschool. Anna (28 months) and Kenyon (26 months) are in the block area. The children work together to build a tower, until one of them knocks it down. When the tower falls, a teacher says “What happened to your tower?” A teacher also reminds the children not to throw blocks.



Anna is sitting on a low carpeted shelf in the block area when Kenyon walks up and begins building a tower on the shelf next to her. There is a lot of background conversation. After sitting next to him for a bit, Anna picks up a block.

Anna: Let’s build a … a tower together.

Kenyon picks the top block off Anna’s tower (twice) to add to the top of his tower. (There may be some indistinct chatter between them.)

Kenyon reaches up and pushes the tower over as Anna is coming to place a block on top.

Both children: Whoa.

Teacher: (off-screen) What happened to your tower?

Anna: What’s happening? (as she moves off-screen)

Anna has a sad face as she steps away.

Teacher: (off-screen) What happen … What’s happening?

Kenyon throws a block down.

Teacher: (off-screen) It’s OK if it falls down, but we don’t need to throw it.

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 teachers provided balance in both supporting Anna and allowing her space to work through situations independently. She followed Anna’s reactions and did not intervene too early.

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 activities that encourage sharing, while limiting the risk for frustration
  • Action: The teachers provided enough blocks that more than one child could build at a time, which allowed them to build at the same time.

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 center’s large blocks give young children the opportunity to learn how to move and control objects.

Approaches to Learning
Problem Solving
Children attempt a variety of strategies to accomplish tasks, overcome obstacles, and find solutions to tasks, questions, and challenges.

  • Strategies for interaction (21-36 months): Be available for the child and recognize when he or she needs guidance
  • Action: The teachers were available for Anna and Kenyon and paid attention to their cues, allowing them to work together to build a tower.

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 calmly asks about the tower and gave Anna the words to use to express some concern without the situation escalating.

Approaches to Learning
Persistence, Effort, & Attentiveness
Children demonstrate the ability to remain engaged in experiences and develop a sense of purpose and follow-through.

  • Strategies for interaction (21-36 months): Provide the child with blocks of uninterrupted time to work on activities
  • Action: The center’s schedule included plenty of free play where the children could play independently or with others.

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