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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.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

CLEAR PLASTIC TUBING AND FUNNELS

Before I tell you about this apparatus, I must thank Juliet Robertson from I'm a teacher, get me OUTSIDE here!  Back in September, she wrote a post on a water wall that used the axioms, dimensions, and elements on the right-hand column of this blog to understand how the children explored all aspects of play at the water wall.  I think she did a better job of explaining the axioms than I do.  Check it out here.  And thanks Juliet.

Clear Plastic Tubing and Funnels is a favorite apparatus.  I try to set it up every year.  I did not set it up last year, so it was the first apparatus I set up for our new school year.


The setup is as follows.  There is a planter tray set inside the table that is the base for the apparatus.  A crate is then duct taped to the tray to make it sturdy.  Next, funnels are inserted into individual pieces of clear plastic tubing and the two are duct taped together.  The tubing is threaded through the crate so the funnel sits on top of the crate and the tubing exits the crates in various places.  The funnels are secured to the top of the crate with duct tape.  The clear plastic tubing is also secured to the crate and various parts of the table to make them secure.  In the picture above, the highlighted funnel is connected to the tubing that empties back into the table through a sprinkler head.  What that means is that the water is poured into a funnel on one side of the table, crosses over to the other side of the table through the tube running through the crate, and travels along the opposite side of the table along the edge before emptying into the table through the sprinkler head.

Here is a picture showing where the other funnels that are connected to shorter tubes empty.

And if you go to the other side of the crate, there is a big black funnel that is connected to a black tube that empties into a second water table.

And when the children begin to figure out how the water flows through the "water machine," there is a lot of focused action that usually connects several children.

This year I have changed the setup that holds the implements and utensils that the children use in the sensory table.  That setup is pictured below.
Everything often ends up in the table, but it is a nice way to start the class and it gives children a place to put the implements and utensils when it is time to clean up.

I have posted twice about this apparatus before here and here.  The second of those posts really points out how children use familiar and novel operations to explore the apparatus.

I have to leave you with this final picture; it attests to capacity for play at this apparatus. For this particular class, this is only their second session together.  Still, well over half the class has chosen to play here with total engagement.  Some are working at the funnels; some are working at the ends of the tubes; and some are just scooping and pouring.  How many children can you count around the table?   


10 comments:

  1. Love the first picture with children, where they are checking out what happens after they poured the water. Cause and effect - awesome.

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    1. Thanks Maureen. It is all the more awesome because of the process the children go through to get to that joint attention. For us, we would just follow the tube. The children go through a multi-stage process of pouring in a funnel and then looking to see where it comes out.

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  2. Thats amazing - so simple to construct but what a learning opportunity for young children. Thanks for sharing!!

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    1. Thanks. I forgot to add that I add a little color to the water so the children can more easily track the water as it flows through the clear tubes.

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  3. Thanks for such clear instructions, Tom. Funnily enough I've been musing over a similar system, so thanks for the push in the right direction.

    Water play next Wednesday will be fun...!

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    1. OK, Juliet, now I am curious and look forward to a future post.

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  4. I am so inspired by your work, Tom! We built an apparatus last week in my program (a post on my blog will follow sometime this week!). Thanks for sharing your marvelous ideas! Thank you! Emily

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    1. Thanks Emily. Since I follow you blog, I can hardly wait.

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  5. Please keep sharing your ideas. I love them!!!!!

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    1. Thanks DeLynn. As long as I have ideas, I will share. I actually get a lot of ideas from observing children. They are an infinite source of inspiration.

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