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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.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Pails and tubs

Pails and tubs come in all sizes and shapes.  Here is a simple five gallon pail set next to the table.  Note that here it is not attached.

It can also be a small pail.  This actually works out better for toddlers because the sides are not so deep.  That is important because with this arrangement they have less trouble scooping out what they put in.  And believe me, they will not only want to transport into the container, but they will also want to do the opposite operation, namely, scoop out of the container.

Here is a planter on the floor at the sensory table in the toddler room. It has low sides and the children can easily get things in and out.

Here is another adaptation in the toddler room.  I have taped a plastic wash basin on top of a five gallon container so it is at the same level as the small toddler sensory table.

Even if a 5 gallon pail is there, children are going to get creative and find other size containers to transport sand, etc., from the table.  Below a child has found a smaller plastic container into which to spoon the sand.  It is placed next to the big pail, but for the child it is more of an internal and motoric challenge to put it in the smaller container.  Spilling?  Of course.

Bigger containers offer an opportunity to explore different spaces around the table. The sand at the bottom of the waste basket is at a different level---floor level---than the sand in the table.  Getting it out of the basket or into to it is a different spacial experience than simply moving it around in the table.

Bigger containers also offer an opportunity for a whole body spacial experience.  

These whole body spacial experiences also include large muscle operations such as balance.

Of course, it could just be a head experience, too!

One final point to be made about pails and tubs: They not only add an additional physical level of play, but they also add to the overall area of play. 

That is important to me because I have such a small area to begin with.  If I had a bigger area, I could easily add more pails and tubs.  And, guaranteed, the children will use every one of them.

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