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.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


If you look at the right-hand column of this blog, you will see ORIENTATION broken down into three components: vertical, horizontal, and incline.  Now those orientations are not exclusive, but can be combined in any number of ways. Take, for instance, the apparatus below which incorporates all three.

This apparatus started out as Vertical Tubes in a Box.  
If you want to see how the children explore the vertical tubes, check out this post.

Last year, I added a horizontal tube and a inclined tube.
If you want to get an idea of how the children use the horizontal tubes, check out this post.

This year, I added a second cardboard tube running horizontally through the box.  That allowed the support for a second inclined tube so there are tubes on both sides of the apparatus.  Instead of cardboard tubes, I used clear plastic tubes.  The tubes are inclined in opposite directions so sand can be transferred back and forth.  They are also set at a different pitch so the sand travels down each at a different rate.

In this post, let me show you some of the exploration with the tube inclines.  Just to be clear, you do not need an apparatus to explore the sand in the table.  There is always a lot going on that has nothing to do with the apparatus and everything to do with the materials provided.

Let's see, though, how the apparatus affords so much more in terms of exploration.  There are added physical challenges.

Sometimes those physical challenges require cooperation and coordination.  Watch as these two boys try to pour a full bowl of sand down one of the tubes.
1-2-3 Lift! from Thomas Bedard on Vimeo.

When you saw the video, what was your reaction when the boys dropped the heavy bowl?  Was that too dangerous to allow?  When I watched these boys, I was amazed at the amount of coordination, cooperation, and minute adjustments it took to complete their self-appointed task. Did you notice in the last frame of the video the orange sand in the boy's hair?

Sometimes the apparatus allows for some very imaginative play.  In the next video, the sand sliding down the tube represents a melting train.
Melting train from Thomas Bedard on Vimeo.

Earlier in the week, some of the children were imaging the sand flowing down the tube as hot lava. That is easy for an adult to comprehend.  But a melting train?  Only in a child's mind---and I can appreciate that.

Sometimes the apparatus allows for the unique combination of the various elements.  This boy has figured out a method of pouring the sand down the tube without using his hands.  How inventive is that?

An apparatus creates an inviting and unique space for exploration.  Whether an apparatus is vertical, horizontal, on an incline, or any combination of the three, I trust the children to make it their own and create new and novel operations. By relying on their agency, I do not need to manage their behavior.  I can observe and when I observe, I see that what they are doing is not inconsequential.  


  1. I found a link to your blog on Teacher Tom and I'm working my way through your archive. Your structures and apparatus really extend the children's play and learning. I have so many ideas to try out. Tomorrow I will constructing one at work for the first time: a horizontal box with holes, extending over the table end with a long vertical tube through it, discharging into a box on the floor. I liked the idea of using pellets. I don't think we have fuel pellets in the UK so I'm substituting cat litter wood pellets. Thank you for sharing the work you do.

    1. Thanks and good luck with your building. I have found that by creating intriguing spaces for the children, things take care of themselves. If you ever feel like sharing what you have built, I would love to see it.