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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, January 5, 2013


I have been asked many times: "How long do you keep an apparatus at the sensory table?"  My answer is usually: "A week."  That is the answer I give because my creative outlet is to build apparatus for the sensory table---and we all need a creative outlet.  I do have this urge to build, so even if I keep an apparatus for longer than I week, I tend to add onto it. The Horizontal Channels is a good case in point.  The second week, I added a Dome.  The third week, I added a vertical box with lots of holes and a cardboard tube.

The result is a Horizontal Channel Complex.  Fortunately, the IMac box is the same width as the box on the floor so it could be taped to two of the corner edges of the floor box. The result is more vertical stability.   

To make the new vertical box with holes even more secure, it is tied directly into the ramp with duct tape. In addition, the cardboard tube is taped to the box and the channel crossbar to give the box lateral stability.

One final note about the construction of this new addition.  Half of the bottom of the vertical box is left intact so the box retains its integrity.  There is an added bonus, too, because when children pour corn through one of the holes and it hits the bottom of the vertical box, their action takes on an aural dimension.

In this post, let's look at just one feature of this new addition, namely the holes.  Before doing that, you may want to look at Element #5 and Axiom #5 in the right-hand column of the blog.   Those two suppositions speak to a child's need to engage with holes.

Without the vertical box with the holes, a child has a clear view of the ramp which allows her to scoop and pour directly onto the ramp.

With the vertical box in place, that operation looks totally different.  First, the child only has a limited view of the ramp through the hole.  The child now becomes an observer watching the corn slide down the ramp through a "window."  

Of course, a child is not content to simply watch.  She must explore and interact with the apparatus and what better way than to use the holes.

Not only is she interacting through the holes, but holes offer a perspective on the action that is unique.   That is true when watching another's action through the holes or watching your own actions through the holes.  In the picture below, notice how the child is pouring corn in the top hole while watching it drop into the box through the hole directly below that top hole.

Even if you cannot see the action through the holes, you can certainly use them for your own purposes. In the picture below, the child is passing his truck from one hand to the other.  
His right hand is passing the truck to his left hand.  To do that, his right hand reaches under the vertical box to meet his left hand which he stretches through the hole connected to the ramp. You might not be able to see it, but he is really stretching to make the exchange.  His head and torso are pressed up against the box.  He can't really see the exchange, but he can feel it.  It is amazing to think of the proprioception and cognitive mapping that must be developing as this child completes his self-selected task.

Holes are important for children.  For some reason holes are elemental in how the children relate to the physical world and, in this particular case, how they interface with this apparatus.  

And that's the whole story for today :-)

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