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, June 9, 2011


Last week I posted about suds painting as an art activity in the sensory table.  It is mixing colors and painting objects with the newly discovered colors.

It is also a sensory activity that seems to give children great pleasure.  Watch the short video below.  Notice how Jamison holds the small container against his body with his suds-painted hand.   Then, with a very subtle motion, he slowly---almost imperceptibly---pulls his hand away from the container to look at his hand.  Watch.

How do you explain how Jamison is holding the container?  It is almost like he is cradling it against his body with great care.  What do you think he is doing when he slowly pulls his hand away and looks at his green hand?  There is something tactile about the sudsy paint that is pleasing enough for him to continue to hold the container in this manner for many minutes.  There was no mixing for him at this point, only feeling.

Because there is no script for this activity, it becomes many things.  One of the things it becomes is dramatic play.  When Charlie mixes all the colors and gets brown, he is making hot chocolate.


It also becomes cooperative play.  A lot of children paint their own hands.  Below, Logan paints Walter's hand.

I did not see who initiated this play. They both look like willing participants, though.

What is often overlooked in any activity at the sensory table is the science the children are experiencing.  They are natural experimenters.  Watch the following two videos to see as Audrey figures out how to get the suds out of the bottle.  Suds have substance, but very little weight.  Suds also tend to stick to surfaces. First she uses the brush.

That is not working, so she decides to try another approach.  Watch and listen.

It works and she tells us what she is doing.  She was so proud she figured out how to get the suds out of the bottle.  Science can be so satisfying when you can figure something out.  Often times it is messy, too.

Watch Derek experiment with the suds and the funnel.

His finger fits perfectly in the hole of the funnel.  First he puts his finger in from the outside.  Then he puts his finger through the hole from the inside.  As he does, he notices that his finger tip pops out covered in suds.  He seems to be fascinated by the discovery and begins touching and wiping the suds with the index finger of his other hand.  Science can be so fascinating when the unexpected happens. Often times it is messy, too.

(This was the first time I used funnels with the suds painting.  Many children explored the hole of the funnels and the suds with their fingers and brushes.  Maybe it has something to do with sensorimotor play axiom  #5 in the right column of this blog.)

Science is always a part of any activity in the sensory table.  Children are always experimenting.  In addition, they are always observing like any good scientist worth his/her weight in gold.  Just ask Gabriel.

That is a young scientist observing a new and fascinating substance.


  1. Thanks for the wonderful sensory idea! I tried this today, after reading about it on your post last week, and it was a BIG hit. How easy and fun! My kids described the greyish/brown suds puddle at the bottom as a "pool," and used the mixed colors to paint elephants, flamingos, and dogs. I am definitely going to repeat this activity!

  2. I love this. I love your blog! I have 2 young preschoolers that I am homeschooling and once we get to our letter S, we will definitely be doing this. A question I have is, how do you encourage a child who isn't fond of "icky" materials on their hands? My son (2.5) doesn't like anything wet and messy on his hands (or feet). He'll watch, which is great, but I want to help him get past it. My daughter never had that issue.

  3. Gina, I am glad you liked it. Reading your response just gave me an idea. I always make suds paint with all the colors of tempera I have. If a person didn't want to greyish/brown, he could use only certain colors like reds and yellows. I may try that next time to see the results.

  4. Cave Momma (what a great moniker), My sensory table is always a choice activity so if a child doesn't want to get messy, he won't. That said, some children can be enticed by including a favorite item with the activity. For instance, I have children who normally would not like the getting messy who might join the activity if we were to paint cars with the suds paint. I never force it, though. There is beauty in our differences.