About Me

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Early childhood education has been my life for over 40 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.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Several years ago, a parent brought in the packing corners from the box in which her new refrigerator had arrived.  They are sturdy enough that I have used them once a year every since.  I first wrote about the packing corners here and here.  I took the two packing corners and duct taped them together to form a pair of cardboard chutes that looked like a long "W"

This year, I made an addition to the cardboard chutes.  I added another set of smaller packing corners on either side of the original apparatus.

The added packing corners are like wings on the sides of the original apparatus.

Unlike the original packing corners whose ends were duct taped closed, these new packing corners were left open.  When you leave open holes on an apparatus, the children will find them and use them (Axiom # 5 on the right).
One of the boys found out that the little cars fit nicely down the holes.  Did you notice the fellow at the bottom looking up the chute in anticipation of the cars coming down?  Watch out!

I also added a new element this year.  I added sticks.  These are river sticks that look like they have been whittled.  But no, they are sticks that have had the bark chewed on by an animal.  See the teeth marks?

One of the main endeavors for the children with the new "wings" was to put the river sticks down the long, narrow holes of the hollow chutes.  Watch.

The boy in the video seems pretty pleased with putting the sticks in the hole to make them disappear.

Of course, since the sticks were different thicknesses, they sometimes got stuck and needed some problem solving to be dislodged.

The child began by taking a small stick out, but nothing happened.  She then pulled out another stick and that dislodged the rest.  She did notice another stick in the upper chamber of the chute. She tried to get it out, but ended up pushing back into the chute a bit more.

The addition of the "wings" to the original apparatus has now created an apparatus that incorporates both dimensions under #3 of the Dimensions and Elements on the right hand column of this blog.  That is, the apparatus is both open and closed.   Objects go down the chutes because of the elemental force of gravity.  That process is experienced differently by the children depending on whether that happens on the open chutes or in the closed chutes.  With the original, open chutes, all the action of objects going down the chute can be tracked visually.  The objects going down the closed chute disappear and reappear.   For some of the children it is simply a scheme to make objects disappear down the hole.  For some it is to track objects by putting them in at the top and looking for them to come out at the bottom.  And for some, it was a joint venture in which one child will put the objects down the chute and another child attempts to catch them. For the open chutes, the children do not have to imagine the motion of the objects going down the chute.  For the closed chutes, however, the children have to infer the motion because the objects disappear.  Almost sounds like a higher order thinking skill.

For those of you in the Twin Cities, you may want to make a note of an upcoming event by the Reggio-Inspired Network of Minnesota taking place at Hamline University on Saturday, April 28.   The title of the event is:  Enter, Encounter, Engage: A Community Dialogue about Learning.  I will be doing an installation with some documentation.  There will also be exploration of nature materials facilitated by Dodge Nature Center and exploration of sound and rhythm materials facilitated by Dianna Babcock.  Follow this link for more details and a complete listing of the day: http://www.mnreggio.org


  1. Every Saturday night I get your blog post arriving by email and it's continues to be one of my highlights of the weekend. I really like the simplicity of the additional wings but the intricacy of the play that they generate. Thanks.

    1. Juliet, thanks. I consider your comment high praise because I have followed your blog since I started blogging and consider you a role model. Tom

  2. Thank you for all of your great ideas. Keep them coming! Two weeks ago, I made my first "addition" to the rice table in my classroom--it met with great success and held their interest for the two weeks--many more of them are in my classroom's future! Thanks again!

  3. That's great, Melissan. I'd love to see pictures.

  4. Hi Tom!
    Just found your blog. Great stuff here!!
    Thank you!!!

    1. Thanks, Annie. Let me know if you have any questions. Tom