About Me

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Early childhood education has been my life for over 30 years. I have taught all age groups from infants to 5-year-olds. I was a director for five years in the 1980s, but I returned to the classroom 22 years ago. My passion is watching the ways children explore and discover their world. In the classroom, everything starts with the reciprocal relationships between adults and children and between the children themselves. With that in mind, I plan and set up activities. But that is just the beginning. What actually happens is a flow that includes my efforts to invite, respond and support children's interface with those activities and with others in the room. Oh yeh, and along the way, the children change the activities to suit their own inventiveness and creativity. Now the processes become reciprocal with the children doing the inviting, responding and supporting. Young children are the best learners and teachers. I am truly fortunate to be a part of their journey.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Playing with ideas

Last week, I wrote about an apparatus that, from my point of view, was a failure.  It was a failure because the top box was so large over the table that when the children tried to pour feed corn into the tubes more corn got on the floor than down the tubes. 
I am not adverse to messes.  In fact, I think they are a part of life that we all need to deal with.  At some point, though, the amount of mess can get in the way of play.  That is what I felt about this apparatus and that is why I called it a failure.

In the post from last week and on Facebook, I asked readers how they might change the apparatus to cut down on the mess.  A couple people took up the challenge with some good ideas of their own.  I actually decided to riff on a couple of ideas from Teacher Sam.  One of his ideas was to open up the bottom box and have corn from the tubes drop into the base box.
So the children could access the corn in the base box, I cut holes on each end of a new base box.  I cut the openings but left the flaps because I wanted to use those flaps to tape the box securely to the bottom of the table.

So the children could pour the corn into the base box, Teacher Sam suggested I cut a couple of holes in the top of the base box.  Instead of cutting the holes, I cut the notches in the tubes to different lengths.
The tube with the shorter notch would empty into the base box and the tube with the longer notch would empty onto the top of the base box.
I used four cardboard tubes, two had the shorter notches and two had longer notches.  This configuration encouraged the children to figure out where the corn exited because the exit point was not the same for all the tubes.

To cut down on the mess, Teacher Sam suggested I remove the top of the top box so if the children missed the holes of the tubes, the corn would just fall in the top box.  I liked that idea, but I wasn't quite sure how to make it sturdy.  Instead, I attached another box on top of the box with the embedded tubes to serve as a catchment for the corn that did not go down the tubes.  I cut off the top of the box and cut holes to match the cardboard tubes that were embedded in the box underneath.   The box was a sturdy black box that was made sturdier by taping it to the box underneath.
I also added an additional element to the original setup: a white PVC chute.  The purpose was to add an additional constructive way for the children to transport the corn out of the table.

Was there still spilling?  Of course, you cannot invite children to transport and expect them not to  spill (see axiom #1 and it's corollary in the right hand column of this blog).

By the way, the other ideas that people offered were not lost.  Either they will use them for their own purposes or I can see myself riffing off of their ideas to make a completely different apparatus.  For me, this is adult play that is analogous to children's play.   It is not quite the same, because adults have more experience with the materials and can do more manipulations in their heads.  For children, the play process is all through their hands as they build their knowledge of the materials and what they can and cannot do with the materials.

In any case, thanks for playing.

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