Bath of toys

Sticky Fingers

How the Stock and Flow tool can be used in a Nursery setting to explain how classroom toys are not an infinite resource.
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Róisín Brayden

Access: Master Practitioners and Practitioners

Classroom toys are just so desirable, aren't they! Of course we all have our favorites we would like to keep. By teaching children about the finite nature of resources, this example of the Stock and Flow tool encourages them to be mindful of the impact on their own experience in the class and the experiences of others when our stock of toys is drained. This is a crucial aspect of global citizenship, as it fosters a sense of responsibility towards the environment and others.

This example was shared by Róisín Brayden a Nursery teacher at Dulwich College (Singapore) DUCKS. It demonstrates how the Stock and Flow tool can be used in a Nursery setting to explain how classroom toys are not an infinite resource. This lesson aims to teach children about the finite nature of resources, encouraging them to be mindful of their consumption. This is a crucial aspect of global citizenship, as it fosters a sense of responsibility towards the environment and others.


One day, our team had noticed that our collection of toys was once again shrinking away. Not again, we sighed! Sometimes it feels like the children see our classroom resources as if they were endless. Our supplies of toy cars, trains, Lego and gemstones were quickly dwindling. So, I decided to trial the Stock and Flow tool for the first time using the analogy of a bathtub. I gathered the children on the carpet,  and on the whiteboard, I drew a bathtub full of water. I drew certain toys that had gone ‘missing’ floating in the bath. I explained that the bathtub represented the classroom resources, and that floating in the bathtub were the toys, books, and art supplies they used every day. I told them that the bathtub had a limited capacity, just like the classroom resources, and when we put our lovely toys in our pockets or in our school bags, the bathtub plug is pulled, and the water and toys begin to drain out and the bath will eventually be empty.

I told the class that when the tap of the bathtub was turned on, it represented stocking the classroom with resources. And that turning on the tap, cost their teachers money. I explained that because our toys and resources cost money, soon the tap of the bath would have to be turned off if the plug is not in the bath and the water is draining out. To illustrate my point, I began erasing the plug and the toys from the bath in my drawing. As the toys drained out of the bath the level of the water lowered. As I was erasing, I explained to the children that if we keep taking classroom toys home, there will be nothing left to play with in the class.

We extended this idea further to examine how we use paper at the Creative Table and what we could do to use less of it. By teaching children about the finite nature of resources, this example of the Stock and Flow too encourages them to be mindful of their consumption. This is a crucial aspect of global citizenship, as it fosters a sense of responsibility towards the environment and others.

Having introduced the idea I was keen to see what effect this idea would have on the use of resources in the class. I was full of optimism, expecting that our stock of resources would remain topped up to the brim, but of course that was not the case! The steady drain of resources and toys continued. Having introduced the understanding of stock and flow we needed to create a moment that modelled it in a real way. So during the following session we took away number of toys and resources from our class all at once. The children noticed the problem and I acted out my dismay at how the bathtub was nearly empty again. We talked about how that might be happening and looked again at the stock and flow. What could we do to make sure the tub stayed full? Finding ways to stop the outflow was a problem we could solve together. Having made that commitment I shared that, because we now knew how to stop the outflows, the school had agreed to add toys into our stock so we could start again. This led to one funny moment when one of the children reached into their pocket and revealed a toy clutched saying, “Miss Brayden I have a toy I could add in as well”. 

Overall, using the Stock and Flow tool can support global citizenship by promoting resource conservation, highlighting interconnectedness, encouraging sustainability, and fostering empathy and responsibility towards the global community. Now that our children understand the idea of stock and flow we can continue to use it to talk about other topics in our class. 

 

 

AUTHORS | CONTRIBUTORS


DUCKS Teacher
Dulwich College (Singapore)