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.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


If you look at the DIMENSIONS in the right column of this blog, the first CARDBOARD CHUTES posted in this blog (November 26th posting) fell under the dimensions of open and incline.  The cardboard chutes in this post are also incline, but closed.  Since this actually takes some putting together, this post talks about building the apparatus.  The next post will talk about types of play and exploration fostered by this apparatus.

For this apparatus, I used three boxes.  The first box---the support box---was approximately the width of the table on one side.  It was also both narrow and tall on its other two sides.  Since it was the width of the table and fit snugly inside the table, it was easy to tape it securely into the table.  The narrowness made it possible for the chutes to pass through it.  The height allowed the chutes to be set on an incline.  Two other boxes were used for the chutes.   One of the chutes in the picture above is a box that held window blinds and the second chute is a box that held an artificial Christmas tree.  I cut out both ends of the box.  Without those ends, the chutes collapse easily.   When they are embedded in the support box, though, they are quite stable.

Here are three boxes I used to make closed chutes three years ago.

Here is the apparatus:

In this version, the support box is as wide as the table and actually sits on top of edge of the table.  A cardboard tube has been added so the flow of material can go two ways.  With the chutes only going one direction, the play and exploration sometimes stopped when most of the material was emptied from the table.  Because of that, I considered the first design flawed and made the modification while the apparatus was still attached to the table.

To make the holes for the chutes, I first trace an end of the "chute" box onto the support box near what will be the top.

If I were just to cut the shape I traced, the chute would be horizontal when I insert it through the box.  

I don't want that, so I add an inch or two to the original trace on the top to be able to orient the chute on a slant.

Two inches is a lot to add to the original trace.  The more you add, the steeper the slant. (This almost sounds like a geometry lesson for a teacher.) 

By the way, I hardly ever measure.  Once I have done one side, I move to the other side.  I trace the chute on the other side; I usually place the top of the trace on the second side about where the bottom of the trace is on the first side.  I then add an inch or two to the bottom.

When the holes are cut, I insert the chutes through both holes.

After inserting the chutes, I tape all around the them with duct tape to keep them from sliding up or down in the support box.  If I have cut the hole a little too big for the chute, the taping covers up extra spaces.  Taping is another process for which I do not measure.  I like to use duct tape that tears easily.  I will tear off a piece that is longer than the juncture I want to tape.  I use my fingers to push it into place.

Once the tape is in place, I tear or cut any extra that is hanging past the corner.  One section of the torn duct tape is pressed flat against the box, whereas the other is folded over and down.  

When I have taped all the chutes in place, I tape the apparatus to the table.  I orient it so the higher end of the chute is above the table and the lower end extends over the table and directs the material into a tub on the floor next to the table.

OK, kids, it is now yours to explore!

If you are counting, there are eight children around this table playing on several different levels afforded by the apparatus.


  1. wow- this is great! the kids look so involved and interested in their work!

  2. yes-and what is interesting is that some of the play is individual and some of the play is cooperative and because it is all in the same space, there is always intersections between the two types of play with wonderful social implications.

  3. This is my first time seeing this blog, and may I just say.. THIS IS SO COOL! I love the shoots and the sponge and everything in between. Thank you, thank you for some truly inspiring ideas!