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, July 20, 2013


Last week's post was called Ruminations on a Bucket.   Twenty-five years ago I realized that by placing a bucket next to the sand table, children demonstrated an overarching need to transport the sand from the table into the bucket.  (They had been telling me all along, but without the constructive outlet---the bucket---to fulfill their need, I only saw children dumping the sand on the floor.)  From watching the children move the sand from the table to the bucket, I formulated axiom #1: Children need to transport whatever is in the table out of the table.  (You can see the axioms in the right-hand column of this blog.)

If that is the case, I propose that there are countless variations on the bucket.  In other words, there is a multitudinous assortment of receptacles to receive what the children need to transport out of the table. Below is just a smattering of possibilities.

A bucket that used to hold kitty litter.

A plastic garbage can

A small pail

An animal feeding bucket

A storage tub

How about a box?
(I would not recommend this with water)

Or even a very large box?

In addition, children will create or find their own receptacles.

And there are none too small.

A curious thing happens with multitudinous receptacles; they take on multiple functions.

The bucket can be a little fishing hole

Or a platform for building a stick & gem structure.

The structural hole on the animal feeding bucket is an invitation to explore.

The lip of the tub is a place to hang a measuring cup.

Or dangle yourself.

How about transporting your whole body into the container?

Why not invite a friend?  Now that would be fun.

I must thank you for indulging me in a little playful tomfoolery.  I really had fun putting the pictures together for this post.  It brought back fond memories of finding the children engaged with more than just the apparatus.  There is no area of the table that goes unexplored or unused.  Some of the uses of the containers are quite predictable such as pouring or dropping stuff in.  As you just saw, though, there are plenty that are unpredictable.  And the unpredictable moments make children's determined work so seriously fun.  I am serious!

P.S.  I must apologize for those of you in Kansas City who are going to the CECA conference.  I was scheduled to do six sessions, but I had emergency surgery last Sunday so I am unable to travel.  My next presentation will be at the NAEYC national conference in Washington DC in November.  Maybe I will catch you there.


  1. No need to apologize. Your ideas and thinking on so many levels, both literally and figuratively, open up and challenge creative thinking in the rest of us. Thank you. Hope your surgery went well and you have a quick and complete recovery.

  2. I am so happy to have found your post! This is truly what kids need these days (more than ever!). You clearly have a brilliant sense of childhood and human development. This is the way I teach... it is about them, not us. Lucky kids! I have been working with children for over ten years now but this year will be going into my second year teaching Kindergarten. I am looking forward to putting in a set-up like this that can be an ongoing project in my class. Thanks for more inspiration!

    1. Thanks Kirsten. I would love to know how it goes. Please keep in touch and if you ever have any questions or successes or even barriers, please feel free to share either here or by email.