Mud-Luscious and Puddle-Wonderful

Young boy in rain gear splashes in puddles

Jack in Puddle (Robert Murphy). Creative commons license

Spring means puddles and puddles mean children and children mean the hard work of play, a.k.a. some pretty cool voyages to some wild new worlds, all within a puddle. To prepare her latest blog post (which could easily double as an homage to e.e. cummings) Associate Professor of Psychology Siu-Lan Tan watched hours of YouTube videos of infants and toddlers interacting with the puddle-wonderful universe of early spring snow-melt or rain’s footprints. She culled them down to a list of eight favorites and shared the list on the Psychology Today website. Those favorites include: Boy Meets First Puddle; Puddle Splashing in Cape Breton; Athena Splashing in Puddles; Charlie Discovers Puddles; Freya’s First Puddle; What if You Encounter a Mud Puddle When You’re Driving Your John Deere Tractor?; Little Girl in Pink Snowsuit Discovers Ice for the First Time; and A Kid, A Dog, and a Puddle–and there’s a lot of learning going on in each, for both the subjects and the viewer. For the latter, Siu-Lan writes comments about the psychological “goings-on” in each encounter. These include phenomena studied by the developmental psychologist Jean Piaget (circular reactions and sensorimotor intelligence) and other concepts such as joint attention episode, self efficacy, interactional synchrony, and linkage between joy and academic success.

“As I sifted through scores of videos of infants and children stomping and splashing in puddles, I was reminded that play is a child’s work,” Siu-Lan wrote. “The foundations of everything a child needs to learn across the domains–cognitive, emotional, and social–are learned through play. This is so beautifully illustrated in a moment of curiosity, discovery, and joy of a child, evoked by a small pool of water left after the rain.”

Siu-Lan blogs regularly for Psychology Today under the rubric “What Shapes Film? Elements of the Cinematic Experience and More.”