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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.

Friday, May 13, 2011


This is a good apparatus to illustrate the significance of holes.  If you notice, there are holes at every level of the apparatus from the bottom to the very top.

The holes are placed on different sides and on different levels to create interesting spaces to explore.

The children will explore the bottom holes.

They will explore the middle holes.

And they will always find the top hole.

Even if it means stepping up on the lip of the table from a stool to get the needed leverage to stuff the bedding down the hole.  (Is that a dangerous move?  The child looks pretty stable, so I did not think I needed to intervene.)

And sometimes, a child will work with holes on more than one level simultaneously. In the picture below, a child is pouring bedding into one of the holes on an upper level with one hand and then trying to catch it on the bottom level with her other hand. She has given herself a nice little large-muscle, eye-to-hand coordination undertaking.

This apparatus is sturdy enough to use outside of the sensory table.  I set it up near the block area where I also keep our little cars.  Here you can see it became a garage.  Cars were obviously driven around the edges, but many ended up in the holes.

And as long as we are talking about exploring holes, there is no better way to explore them than to use your body.

There is one more point to make about holes.  Children will find them even if they may not be a part of the apparatus.  If you look at the original apparatus, there is a bridge that connects a small table that holds many of the utensils we use in the table. Watch my friend Alex and see what hole he has found.

Did you see the hole he found?  It was really a crack, a crack between the table and the wall.  At first, I could not figure out what he was doing.  Well, he was putting the animal bedding down the hole and it was disappearing.  It is amazing the operations children create for themselves.  

Now you have to understand that the animal bedding is going on the floor.  It is not like putting it in the holes in the actual apparatus which is contained in a table.  After I realized what Alex was doing, I wanted to redirect his operation, so I asked him to put the bedding in the pail.  Watch what happens---and if you pay close attention, you can see his little pile of bedding on the floor next to the wall under the table.

If you want to know why this redirection works so well, you may want to take a look at my very first blog entry back in July of 2010 here. In the post I talk about the importance of using a pail next to the sensory table.  See if you see any "holes" in my logic.

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