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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, January 26, 2013


The last post was about the variety of ways children used Holes, Pipes, and Tubes in and around the Vertical Boxes with Horizontal Tubes.  The very last picture of the post showed two boys using pipes and tubes as firefighters to put out a fire at the sensory table.

Now you might well imagine that if there was a fire at the sensory table, there must be a fires in other parts of the room. There surely were fires in other parts of the room, so the fire hoses---by necessity---had to travel to all other parts of the room, too  Thus we have the Traveling Pipes and Tubes.

Here is another example of how the pipes and tubes began to creep into the rest of the room.  In the video below, the child builds an arch by balancing the tube structure in the pail and on the floor.  After he passes under the arch, it tips over.  As he begins to build again, the structure is rearranged and takes a different orientation.

As the video ends, this little guy goes back to the table to look for more tubes.  He actually finds all pipes and tubes that are available on this particular day.  Look what he ends up with.

He has made a path of pipes and tubes that connects the sensory table with the block area. I am sure if there were even more pipes and tubes to work with, his structure would have traveled to more parts of the room.  It is amazing to me that he took such care to fit all the tubes and pipes together.  It was also amazing to me that other children respected his structure and would walk around it or over it.  

Here is another example of how pipes and tubes travel.  The boy in the video has inserted a smaller piece of pvc pipe into the larger flexible tube.  He uses the table as a platform so the tube can lie flat as he experiments with lifting the tube on each end to see what happens with the pvc pipe inside the tube.  He finally lifts the tube off the table so the pvc pipe drops through the length of the tube onto the floor.

So this child has taken a tube and a piece of pipe from the sensory area to an adjacent area to investigate how the pipe behaves in the tube.  At the end of the video clip, it seems that he acts with a clear idea of what he wants to accomplish.  Not bad for a young four-year-old. 

One of the tubes even made it to the opposite end of the room to the large muscle area. (By the way, I always have large muscle available in my classroom.)

This particular day, the climber and slide were set up in the large muscle area.  What could a child possibly do with the tube on the climber and the slide?

Well, she climbed up the slide with the tube in tow so that the tube lay on the incline of the slide.

What happened next?  As she sat at the top of the slide with the tube resting on the slide, I brought a ball over from the manipulative area and put it in the tube at the top.  She watched the ball travel down the tube and out the other end onto the slide.  

At this point, we created a little game between ourselves.  I situated myself at the bottom of the slide and rolled the ball up the slide for her to catch.

  After catching it, she would put it back in the tube for me to catch and roll it back up to her.

So often children will try to bring things into the sensory table area.  With the pipes and tubes, though, I found the opposite true: children brought the pipes and tubes to other parts of the room to suit their own purposes.  The results were astonishing.  Children were building in new ways; children were experimenting in new ways; and we created an endearing game of roll and catch.

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