About Me

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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, February 3, 2013


I must be in a tube phase.  My last two posts included tubes. (Here and here.) This post is also about tubes in the sensory table.  This time, though, the tubes are combined with a new medium: snow.

For those of you who do not know, it snows in Minnesota in the winter.  Once or twice during the season, I will bring snow inside into the sensory table for the children to experience sans coats and mittens.  For playing in the snow, I provide the usual set of hodgepodge and doohickies.  This year I added various tubes to the mix of items on hand for the children to use.

There were the narrower, flexible tubes.  Besides children filling the narrow tubes with snow, the tubes became machines.  In the picture below, the tube is a vacuum to vacuum up the snow.

There were also the larger, less flexible tubes.  Those tubes were easier to fill with snow because they had a larger diameter.  Not only that, but because of their larger diameter, they were also good for accommodating other tubes.  In the picture below, the girl has inserted a smaller tube into the bigger black tube.  The result is that the snow in the tube is now pushed out the other end. That was an unexpected outcome for this child.

By far, the choice tubes were the clear, plexiglass tubes.  The children gladly filled them up with little or no prompting.  The great part of this operation was that they could easily measure their progress.

These filled tubes created columns of snow.  Notice that I have set up a wooden tray that spans the table as a platform on which to work above the sensory table.

Children often removed the tube resulting in a free-standing column of snow.  It often toppled right away, but even the fleeting column was a stunner for the children.

One child discovered that if he tipped the tube back and forth with some snow in it, the snow would slide from one end of the tube to the other.  Watch.

When I saw this child tipping the snow in the tube back and forth, I thought he was experiencing the weight shift as the snow went from one end of the tube to the other.  It was not until I tried it myself that I understood what else he was experiencing.  As the snow slid from one end of the tube to the other, the snow forced air---cold air, at that---out one side and then the other.  It totally surprised me.  Maybe that is why the child is smiling so much in the video.

What do you get with tubes as loose parts with snow?  Snow tubes, versatile contrivances rich in potential---and maybe a surprise or two.


  1. Oh if only we still had snow! I've got clear tubes, black hoses and all the other hodgepodges and doohickies. Imagine kids pouring coloured water through the snow filled transparent tubes... Colour mixing and melting. I may have to manufacture snow for the sake of it! Thanks Tom.

    1. What a great idea. We have at least another month of snow. I will wait, though, for some fresh snow and then try the color water idea. The white should make a great medium for mixing the colors. I will have to get my clear tubes back from my coworker who has "appropriated" them and is using them with pompoms in the infant/toddler room. Good luck with making that snow :-)

    2. This is amazing! And we just got feet and feet of snow, so tomorrow I'm giving this a whirl! May I ask where you got the tubing and doohickies? I'm a new teacher and am collecting things slowly but surely!!

    3. Most of the doohickies I got at the Goodwill store. The tubes I got at a surplus store our town. It is a surplus store like an army surplus store or with a lot of manufacturing rejects. If you live in the UK, you can order tubes through Cosy at www.cosydirect.com One person I know used the tubes found in golf bags to keep the clubs separated. Good Luck.