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, February 17, 2011


Experimenting with things frozen in ice highlights the unique characteristics of ice. First of all, there is the elemental change of state the children experience as ice turns to water.  Ice is also solid and hard while water is fluid.  That sounds a lot like science education.

Another interesting characteristic is that ice takes the form of the container in which it is frozen.  As a consequence, when the girl on the right pulls the ice out of the cup, it is the exact shape of the cup.  If she wants to put it right back in the cup, she can with ease.  Putting the ice in the container in which it was frozen now becomes a 3-D puzzle.

And some of those shapes can be very interesting, such as the little ice cylinder the child is pushing into and taking out of the plastic tube on the right.

Yet another unique characteristic is that it is cold.  Children find out how cold it is and their tolerance for cold in different ways.  They will usually use there hands, but some find other ways to experience the cold.

Gregory decided to feel it against his face.  "Yes, it's cold." he said.  In addition, he also found out how smooth it was on his face.

Of course, many children will taste it, too.  It is a sensory table after all.

Speaking of smooth, Hannah found a superball that had been frozen in ice and decided to use it to make an ice ball smooth.  I am not sure how she held the ice so long, but she was intent on making sure it was smooth.  You can see the pride she feels about her accomplishment of making the ice ball so smooth.

Tysen was the child who extracted the ball from the ice in the first place.  In the process, he discovered a couple of things:  1) The ball fits perfectly into the spot from which it was extracted and 2) the ball rolls nicely in that spot.  Look how carefully he replaces the ball and then rolls it in its form-fitting space.  What does he think about his discovery?  Will he be able to more quickly grasp the purpose and motion of ball bearings in some later encounter with them?    

There is no limit to what can be frozen in ice.  Jamison looks pretty intrigued with the string frozen in ice.

Another challenge is presented when things are frozen in bottles.  

As you can see, these two are up to the challenge.  And for them it is a two-person job.  Who jabs when?  Can we jab together?  The beauty of this shared activity is the social interaction that includes language and an exchange of ideas for getting things out of the bottle.

To illustrate what this activity meant to one child, let me tell you a little story from three years ago.  A five-year-old was spending a lot of time trying to get a small dinosaur out of the ice.  After much work and persistence he got it out. He held up the dinosaur much like the boy below is holding up the chickens.  

The boy who extracted the dinosaur could not contain his sense of accomplishment. As he held up the dinosaur, he said:  "I've always wanted to be a paleontologist." He raised his dinosaur above his head and exclaimed: "And now I AM a paleontologist!"

That's one dream that came true in an early childhood classroom.

1 comment:

  1. What a neat idea for a sensory table activity. It looks like the kids had a lot of fun! I'm a new fllower to your blog. I've linked up to your post on my weekly favorites here: http://play2grow.blogspot.com/2011/02/weekly-favorites-for-february-20-2011.html