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, May 26, 2011


I change the apparatus in the sensory table every week.  (We all need a creative outlet and this is mine.)  What that means is that there is a completely new apparatus for the children to explore on a weekly basis.  After building the Bridge, though, I decided to add onto the existing structure instead of building a completely new one. I had another IMac box from school and a channel box I found at a hardware store so I added those two to the existing structure.

For the addition, I set up the planter tray to support the new IMac box and then ran the channel box through the two IMac boxes.  The channel box completely runs through the new IMac box but only partway into the original structure.

With the addition, there are more inside spaces to discover.  The view below is inside the new IMac box.  You can only see the child's arm because he is watching the corn fall out on the outside of the box as he scrapes it with the spoon from the inside.  Instead of eye-to-hand coordination, this might be considered mind-to-body coordination.  Without seeing what his hand and arm is doing, there must be a mental and physical loop working to complete his actions.  That sounds like a higher order thinking skill.

And, of course, there are a lot more holes to explore---sometimes with hands.

And sometimes with the implements.

Holes and putting things in holes is very important work for children.  Below is a fine example of that.

Andreas had been putting corn in his minnow net with a scoop.  He put the scoop down and noticed some scattered kernels on top of the channel.  The net he put in the hole created a smaller hole into which he drops the individual kernels.  First, what was it about the scattered kernels that made him want to clear them off the channel?  Next, how did he even notice the small hole between the net and box?   He could have just put the individual kernels in the net.  In any case, there was something about that hole that was a catalyst for his action.  Would you have noticed the hole made by minnow net?  I certainly would not have.  By the way, did you notice that fine motor work he was doing pinching those individual kernels to put them in the hole?  That is an important skill for learning to write.

Here is a little more complex exploration of holes by Hanna.

Hanna was working very hard to get the corn to drop through the holes into the small container. Before I began the video, she had experimented with simply pouring through the holes and eyeballing where the corn landed in the table.  She had also tried several times to catch it with the bottle.  Notice she clears a spot so the container can stand upright on the bottom of the table.  As you can see, her efforts never produced the results she wanted, but the best way to learn is by trial and error, right?

(Just a note about the videos.  I have not been completely happy with uploading video to blogger.  The texture is grainy and it takes a long time to upload any thing longer than 15 seconds.  I liked the quality of YouTube uploads, but they always suggested videos that had nothing to do with the blog.  I noticed that Allie over at bakers and astronauts used vimeo.  The only other videos pictured were from her blog. I thought I would give vimeo a try.  Thanks, Allie.)

One very strange thing happened when I added the addition to this apparatus.  A space was created that somehow invited a couple of children to actually climb in the table.  Look!

I might have thought it was a fluke if only one child climbed in, but two children in different classes climbed into this space created by the new addition.  So what is it about this space that was an invitation to climb in?  It does look like a child-size space and there is an added attraction of pouring the corn through the hole and have it drop on your lap or leg.  And, of course, children explore with their whole bodies. But what was so inviting about this space? Who knows?

I had this grand scheme of adding onto this structure for at least one more week---maybe two.  Once you get started, there is really no end, right?  Well, we got tired of sweeping up the corn every day.

Maybe next year.


  1. What a wonderful, inspiring post. I escpecially loved watching the video of Andreas. He was so meticulous. Fascinating.

  2. Ness, thank you. Children are my inspiration and I am happy to pass it on.

  3. I am so happy I found your blog. What wonderful ideas! You inspired me to try something similar with my preschoolers. http://teaching2and3yearolds.blogspot.com/2011/07/building-with-cardboard-over-sensory.html

    I made sure to link back to you.

    Thank you!

  4. Sheryl, I saw the mentioning of my blog on yours since I follow your blog. Thank you. I commented that I think you have taken it a step further by having the children build. I just had a colleague ask me if I have the children build. I had to say no. I am going to refer them to you and your post. It was great. Tom