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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 24, 2013


When I look over pictures and videos I have taken of the children working in and around an apparatus at the sensory table, I often ask: "Why is the child doing that particular operation?"  I found myself doing that a lot with the new apparatus, Pegboard Platform.

Why does a child feel compelled to methodically cover the platform with sand even though that takes a lot of time and work?
It may be hard to see from the picture, but almost the entire pegboard is covered with sand. The child's arm is in the foreground as she pours from a scoop onto the platform.  She only has a small bit left to cover just above the blue of the scoop.

Why do some children feel compelled to completely clear the pegboard of sand by sweeping it with their hands?  Or pound on it?  Or pour sand down the tube?

Why does a child transport rocks and sand from the bottom of the table to a measuring cup on the platform?  And why does he decide to pour the contents of the measuring cup down the nearest tube?  

Why does a child start at one end of the table to scoop sand into a tiny scoop and then walk to an adjacent side of the table to empty the tiny scoop into a measuring cup?  And why does he do it two more times?  Why does he decide to check the red scoop and then empty the contents into the measuring cup?  Why does he start spinning the cup after checking the level of sand in the cup?

Why is it possible for children to work so effortlessly together on a mutually agreed project that involves multiple steps?

Why?  First we need to understand that children think by doing.  One action seems to lead to another action which in turns leads to another action and so on.  The result is a flow of operations that is an interplay between the actions(thoughts) of the individual child or group of children, the available tools, and the features of the apparatus.  That flow changes the nexus of the question from me to the child.  It also changes the question from me asking "Why?" to the child posing the query "Why not?" 

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