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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, December 8, 2012

HODGEPODGE AND DOOHICKIES

Here is a picture of the wire shelves next to the sensory table in my classroom.  What do you see?  There is a hodgepodge of pots, pans, and bowls, and a large assortment of doohickies.  

There is not one item on those shelves that was bought from an early childhood catalogue.  Many of them were bought in the kitchen department of a store; many others---especially the pots, pans, and bowls were bought at Goodwill.  It is a mixture of plastic and metal with one fiberglass bowl and one ceramic covered bowl.  The beauty of this collection is that there is a variety of weight, size, and different-sized openings.  I believe those factors lead to more experimentation and exploration.

It is impossible to show all the exploration, but here is a taste of just some of what happens with hodgepodge and doohickies.

Filling a syringe just to watch the level continually go down because there is a hole in the bottom. This is an operation that gets repeated over and over again.

Using a baster to fill the ice cube tray

Filling a bowl with a scoop with a hole in the bottom. (This is a scoop from a baby formula can.) There are a couple of things to notice about this video.  First, the girl has a little trouble taking a measure of how much water to pour from the bottle so the scoop does not overflow.  Second, when she figures that out, she is focused on keeping the scoop full without making it overflow.  (I see a future scientist taking careful measure with a finely calibrated instrument.)


Filling the jello mold with a funnel and a small measuring cup.

Filling a red bulb with a funnel.  The child has to keep her hand on the bottom so the water does not flow out.

Of course after you fill it, you can use it to fill another cup.

Or see what it feels like when you dribble the water down your arm.

The next little video shows this child experimenting with an upside-down funnel in a container.  I looked at this video several times before I understood what was going on.  The child begins by plunging the upside-down funnel in the bowl.  There is some resistance as the funnel pops out of the water.  About halfway through the video, she sticks her index finger over the hole of the funnel.  That traps the air in so as she pulls up the funnel, she also pulls up water making that operation harder.  When she goes to put the funnel back in the water, her finger is still over the hole.  That causes the air to displace the water so she has to press down harder on the funnel to put it under the water.  At the same time, the funnel wants to  slide sideways to let air out and water in.  That's a nice little bit of experimenting for a two-year-old.  Watch.

Upside-down Funnel from Thomas Bedard on Vimeo.

Remember the syringe in the first picture?  In the last video, the child has figured out how to use it to fill the ice cube tray from the butterfly bowl.  It is unique but methodical.  Watch.

Filling the Ice Cube Tray with a Syringe from Thomas Bedard on Vimeo.


I acknowledge that the pots and pans and bowls and implements available for the children at my sensory table will win no awards for beauty.  If awards were given out for fostering creativity, though, hodgepodge and doohickies take the prize.






4 comments:

  1. I'm starting in Nursery this year and I can't wait after looking at all your photos, sensory tables and towers. What great ideas! Thank you.

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    1. Good luck Hayley. Let me know if you ever have any questions. I don't claim to have the answers, but usually in dialogue we find them. Tom

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  2. I recently found your blog and I'm in love. Especially because it is still being updated. That is rare to find. I was wondering, do you have any posts about how you store things? I'm starting my own collection of random bits and bobs. Pipes, buckets, logs, rocks, etc, etc, etc. I can't stand to see something throw. Away that could be used. I'd love to see your whole stash and get some storage tips.

    Also, I noticed your water looks blue a lot. What do you use to color it that doesn't stain?

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    1. Hi Molly,

      I do not have any posts about storing things. My colleagues will tell you I am not the most organized person on the planet. I am lucky enough to have a good storage room in my basement, but it is not organized. When I retire I will get to it. I think the main reason the the color of the water in the table is blue is because the table is blue. I also use liquid water to color my water. You can get it from any early childhood supplier like Kaplan, Constructive Playthings, Discount School Supply, etc.

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