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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, October 31, 2010

THOUGHTS ON THE BOX TOWER

Boxes to me are like a slab of marble to a sculptor.  Well, that might be overstating it a tad.  When I see a box, though, I immediately assess its value for use in the sensory table.  When I first saw a long, narrow box that had contained a fan, I thought that it would be a novel apparatus if I could attach it so it would be strong enough on the vertical to withstand the children's pulling and tugging.  Even though I thought it would be novel,  I still had no idea how the children would use it.  In a way, it seemed too simple.  As it turned out, that was the beauty of the box tower.  Its simplicity allowed the children's unfettered imagination to give it functionality beyond the realm of adult reality.  It became a cement mixer and then a smoothie maker; it became a popcorn popper and then a machine that cleans the animals that fall in.  Though it is simple, it is also one of the most dynamic because of how the children make it their own.






A quick example of how a child found a way to make this apparatus his own is seen on the right.  This child noticed the picture of the controlling buttons of the fan on the fan box.  For him, the picture of the buttons became the on and off buttons for the cement mixing machine.



Here are some additional notes about the holes in the box tower.



First, always put a hole on top.  Children explore every level. Consequently, they will always try to reach the highest level.
(I showed this picture of the boy reaching the top hole to a physical therapist and she said that it was a example of "good trunk extension."  Good trunk extension sounds impressive and important for large motor development.)


Put holes on multiple levels with varying orientation and
vary the size of the holes to add large and small motor challenges to pouring into the holes.


Tape the edges of all the holes to prevent paper cuts.

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