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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, September 12, 2010


One of my favorite activities in the hardware store is to look through all the ailses to see the pipes, gutters and tubes, etc.  I am always looking for materials to use in the sensory table.  A few years ago in the fall, I was walking through the garden section.  There was a plastic planter on clearance that caught my eye.  I bought it with hopes of using it in the sensory table.  To my surprise it fit perfectly.

I had a ready-made tray that fit right into the table.  It provided many of the same features as the wooden tray(previous post).  This tray, though, actually goes into the table and sits 4 or 5 inches off the bottom of the table.  It is also narrower. 

Because it fits into the table, it is easier to attach.

Notice how the lip of the tray rests on the lip of the table.   I take two pieces of duct tape and tape it from inside the lip of the tray over and under the lip of the table (picture above left).   I then take another piece of duct tape and lay it across the two pieces (picture above right).

If you can find the right size planter to fit inside your table, this apparatus is as simple as the pail from an earlier post.

Planters always have holes because it is important for plants to drain.  I could use those, but they tend to be too big so the tray won't hold any water.  For that reason, I keep the holes plugged that are part of the planter and I drill two to four smaller holes on the edge of the bottom.  That lets the water out more  slowly and provides another avenue of exploration.  The child below is filling his plastic syrup jug from the hole at the bottom of the planter.  Notice the bottom of the little jug is in the water.  That means that at first, the jug is buoyant and the child has to push down.  As the jug fills, the child has to reverse the action because the water filling the jug gets heavier, so he has to hold it up.

There is a different space and volume  experience when the water is filling containers on different levels.  In the picture below, the table itself is a container; the tray itself also holds water;  and the pots that sit inside the trays provide additional levels for which the children experience space and volume.  


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