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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, March 17, 2013


Last week I introduced a Pegboard Platform.  After building this, I still had pegboard and tubes left over, so I decided to take the apparatus to another level---literally.  By that I mean, I added a second platform over the first.
Because the top platform is narrower, a piece of wood is attached to the bottom to make it more rigid so it can bear the weight of the sand.  This top platform is propped nine inches above the first platform by two longer tubes. One of these longer tubes sits between two shorter tubes at one end of the table.  This tube has a notch for each platform and is taped to the end of the table for stability.  Because the top platform is longer than the bottom platform, the second tube stands alone in the middle of the table and only has a notch for the top platform.  To make the second taller tube stable, it is taped to a piece of wood that spans the width of the table.  

Here is another view of the apparatus that better shows the difference in width between the two platforms.  It also gives you an idea of how the top platform and the bottom platform are wedged into the taller, middle tube on the end.

And a view from the other side shows the hole cut in the bottom of the larger tube.  Again, that provides an outlet for the sand the children WILL feel compelled to pour into the tube.
By the way, the red bucket hanging from the lip of the table is a recent find at a farm and fleet store in town.  It is a feeding bucket for animals.  It also works great as a pail into which the children can transport the sand and other objects.

It is useful to analyze this apparatus in terms of the dimensions and elements listed in the right-hand column of the blog.  Number one talks about orientation.  This apparatus actually has two orientations on which the children operate.  The platforms are horizontal and the tubes are vertical. Number two states that levels are important to children to understand space.  In this apparatus, there are at least three levels: the top platform, the bottom platform, and the bottom of the table. Number three talks about spaces that are open or closed.  This apparatus is a very open and airy. Number four talks about creating spaces.  The apparatus creates many spaces over, under, around and through.  Number five states that children need to put things in holes. This apparatus has two types of holes: the small holes of the pegboard and the larger holes of the tubes.

The purpose of analyzing is to see how complex the space is.  The space is only complex upon analysis.  What a child sees is an inviting place on which to operate.  More complex spaces foster a larger variety of operations that are both more complex and are particular to the apparatus.

Children can operate on spaces that are on different vertical and horizontal planes---all at the same time.

The simple act of scooping sand from the bottom of the table now becomes an exercise in working around obstacles and barriers.

The simple act of pouring is becomes a cascade to follow with your eyes and feel with your hands.

Pouring through two Platforms from Thomas Bedard on Vimeo.

And some operations are fostered directly by the apparatus.  For example, a horizontal plane promotes a different type of operation than a vertical plane.

Rubbing the Platform with a Tin Cup from Thomas Bedard on Vimeo.

Children do not shy away from complexity if they can physically explore it.  For them it is a stage for experimentation that frame a continuing sense of wonder.

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