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, November 9, 2013


Thursday, January 20, 2011


I am in the process of finalizing my presentation for the National Association of Young Children Annual Conference for the third week in November.  Because it takes me a long time to finish an original post, I am looking over previous posts and will repost some that may have gotten less attention than others since I began writing over three years ago.  This second repost is from January 2011 and features an apparatus that I have since forgotten about.  Since finding it anew, I will reconstruct it sometime this school year because of the types of play and exploration it fosters. This post also covers more in-depth the building process.

If you look at the DIMENSIONS in the right-hand column of this blog, the first Cardboard Chute apparatus falls under the dimensions of incline and open.  The cardboard chutes in this post are also on an incline, but closed.  Since this actually takes some putting together, this post talks about building the apparatus.  The next post will talk about types of play and exploration fostered by this apparatus.
For this apparatus, I used three boxes.  The first box---the support box---was approximately the width of the table on one of its sides.  It was also both narrow and tall on its other two sides. Since it was the width of the table and fit snugly inside the table, it was easy to tape securely into the table.  The narrowness made it possible for the chutes to pass through it.  The height allowed the chutes to be set on an incline.  Two other boxes constituted the chutes.   One of the chutes in the picture above is a box that held window blinds and the second chute is a box that held an artificial Christmas tree.  I cut out both ends of each box.  Without those ends, the chutes collapse easily.   When they are embedded in the support box, though, they are quite stable.

Here are three boxes I used to make closed chutes three years ago.

In this version, the support box is as wide as the table and actually sits on the lip of the table.  A cardboard tube has been added so the flow of material can go two ways.  With the chutes only going one direction, the play and exploration sometimes stops when most of the material has been emptied from the table.   

To make the holes for the chutes, I first trace an end of the "chute" box onto the support box near what will be the top.

If I were just to cut the square, though, the chute would end up to be horizontal, not on an incline, in the support box.

I don't want that, so I add an inch or two to the original trace on the top to be able to orient the chute on a slant.

Two inches is a lot to add to the original trace. The more you add, the steeper the slant. (This almost sounds like a geometry lesson for a teacher.) 

By the way, I hardly ever measure. Once I have done one side, I move to the other side.  I trace the chute on the other side; I usually place the top of the trace on the second side about where the bottom of the trace is on the first side.  I then add an inch or two to the bottom.

When the holes are cut, I insert the chutes through both holes.

After inserting the chutes, I tape all around them with duct tape to keep them from sliding up or down in the support box.  If I have cut the hole a little too big for the chute, the taping covers up extra spaces. Taping is another process for which I do not measure.  I like to use duct tape that tears easily.  I will tear off a piece that is longer than the juncture I want to tape.  I use my fingers to push it into place.

Once the tape is pressed in place, I cut any extra that is hanging past the corner.  One section is pressed flat against the box and the other is folded over and down.   

When I have taped all the chutes in place, I tape the apparatus to the table.  I orient it so the higher end of the chute is above the table and the lower end extends over the table and directs the material into a tub on the floor next to the table.

OK kids, it is now yours to explore!

If you are counting, there are eight children around this table playing on several different levels afforded by the apparatus.

P.S.  If you are going to the NAEYC national conference in Washington DC in November, I am presenting on sand and water tables.  The session is on Saturday morning from 8:00-9:30, so we will see who are the early birds.   In the process of preparing for the conference, I am putting together a three-ring binder of some of the apparatus that do not fit into the presentation, including some of the newest apparatus.  Any readers of the blog who want to chat and see some examples that do not fit into the presentation, I would love to find a time to meet.  Please contact me through my email: tpbedard@msn.com

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