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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.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

VERTICAL BOXES WITH HORIZONTAL TUBES

In the fall term, a colleague asked me if I wanted a large box.  The box was from an outdoor shed they had purchased.  I said yes.  The box probably sat on top of my cabinets for well over a month before I figured out what I wanted to do with it.  I played with many orientations before I settled on cutting the box in two and stationing each half on each end of the sand table.  I wanted to connect the two halves, so I installed cardboard tubes that spanned the table.  The result was Vertical Boxes with Horizontal Tubes.

This was a more involved project than usual because in cutting the box in half, I had to tape each of the new boxes back together to give them enough integrity.  In addition, I created false bottoms for each of the boxes so the surface inside the box would be high enough for the children to play on.  If the bottom was on the floor, it would be too low for the children to reach.

To create the false bottom, I found a box that filled the bottom of the bigger box enough to create a firm base for the false bottom.   It was important, though, that the base box be lower than the lip of the opening of the bigger box because I wanted to create space inside the box for holding sand.

Next, a flat piece of cardboard was cut to rest on top of the base box inside the larger box. That piece of cardboard had to be cut the width and depth of the box to form a false bottom.  After placing the piece of cardboard in the box, it was taped down with duct tape.  When that is done, the box was then taped to the table to make a seamless connection.  The false bottom is 5 inches below the lip of the box where it meets the lip of the the table.














The next step was to cut openings in the cardboard tubes.  In the past, I have used a utility knife, but that takes a lot of effort.  This time I used an electric sabre saw.  First, I made marks for the corners of the openings I wanted to cut out.  Next, I drilled a small hole on each mark so I could insert the blade of the sabre saw.  Finally, I cut out the openings with the sabre saw.   After cutting the first opening freehand, I decided to draw lines to connect the marks and define the openings more clearly to make the cutting easier.


I also cut notches at the end of each tube to make it easier for children to operate in the tube from the ends.   You can see why that is important when you see where the holes or "windows" are placed for this apparatus.














The next step was to place the tubes across the table.  Since the tubes were so long, I needed to create support in the middle so I used a planter tray that spanned the width of the table as a middle support.  The ends were supported by the lip of the table.  I duct taped the tubes at the support points.

The last step was to determine size and placement of holes or "windows."  There were two things I wanted.  The hole had to be high enough so a space was created inside the box to hold the sand in and not spill onto the floor.



Second, I wanted the hole to be big enough for children to easily reach through to do their work or to actually reach into with their body.





There are now two main focal points for the children to explore.  There are the windows of the boxes and the openings in the tubes.

This project took three times longer than usual to build for an apparatus made from cardboard boxes and tubes.  Was it worth it?  You would have to ask the children.







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