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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, June 23, 2013


There are some apparatus I install every year at the sensory table.  The Clothesline is one of them.
The apparatus is for the children to wash babies and to wash and hang clothes.  The clothesline is set up over the table so when the clothes drip, the water drips back into the table.

Here is the original setup.
You can find the original post here

Last year I added an additional clothesline with pulleys so the third clothesline can move.
You can find last year's post here

To accomodate the moving clothesline, I added another smaller water table on the end of the blue table.  You can see it in the first picture at the top of this post.  With this setup, though, there was one problem to surmount.  The smaller table had a slant for which to compensate if the second poll could be attached to make it stable and stand straight up.  The solution was to add a unit block and wedge from the block area and tape them together and then tape them both to the table. In that way, the poll was secured at two points and stood perpendicular to the floor.  See below.

I often relate finding solutions for problems that arise during construction of an apparatus with the problems the children pose for themselves when exploring the apparatus.  The solution arises while playing with the elements.  Sometimes it doesn't work and then there needs to be more playing.  (To let you in on a little secret---sometimes it just doesn't work.  But there was still joy in playing and sometimes a new idea surfaces to try later.)

In my previous two posts, I wrote about how to construct the clothesline and some of the operations the children performed using the clothesline, clothespins, and washing the babies. Here let me write about a couple of operations that have nothing to do with washing the babies or washing and hanging the clothes. Rather, let me write about a couple of purely sensory operations the children found to their liking this year.

First, there is rolling the soap around in your hands.  It is slippery and it makes suds; a simple pleasure that is often overlooked. Why does this child choose to roll the soap in his hand until it either slips out or makes the suds?

I appreciate when the children start to think outside the table.  Not only has the child pictured below decided that there was more to wash than the clothes and the babies, but he expands his washing of the table to the legs outside the table.

The child starts out washing the little pedestal in one corner of the table (left) and then moves down to the legs of the table (right).  What motivates this child to wash the table and its legs?

This last video may be considered washing the blanket, but after watching it several times, I think it is something different.  The child seems to be exploring what happens with a wet blanket in the water.  How does it feel to pat the blanket in the water?  Watch.

Patting the blanket from Thomas Bedard on Vimeo.

Why and how did this child reach the point at which he decided to gently pat the blanket as it floated in the water?  (On a trip to a beach, do you remember the feeling of a wet blanket in the water?  Is that what this child is experiencing?)

Children are always making choices at the sensory table in terms of what to do with the elements provided.  I fool myself if I only look for the "whiz-bang" moments.  Rather, I must remember to look closely at even the simplest and mundane operations.  Why?  Because I cannot presume to know the child unless I observe him making meaningful choices for himself no matter how simple or mundane.


  1. i just like with you have done something i wanted to do thank you i am going to try it thank again

  2. I love this idea and look forward to using it!