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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 30, 2013

TALL CARDBOARD TUBES AND ROPES

Back in June of 2011, Juliet from Creative Star Learning in Scotland, wrote a piece about using real ropes in a post she called: A rope trail for everyone.  That post got me thinking that I would like to figure out a way to use ropes at the sensory table.  After mulling it over for more than two years, I finally figured out how to incorporate ropes at the sensory table.  I built an apparatus I call: Tall Cardboard Tubes and Ropes.  (The tall cardboard tubes are analogous to the trees in Juliet's post. Is that analogy too big of a stretch?)
The tall tubes are taped at the bottom to each leg at the corners of the table.  They are taped so the lip of the table provides stability across the width of the table.   1x2 inch boards are taped to the top of the tubes to give them stability across the length of the table.  Holes of different sizes and orientations were drilled before taping the tubes to the table.

Openings were cut in the bottom of each tube because I knew children would pour and put things in the holes.  To catch the stuff, I placed planter dishes under each tube.

I really expected the children to weave the ropes in and out of the holes. But there was not much of that.  I would not say I was disappointed, just surprised.

Instead, there was a lot of activity centered around pouring pellets in the holes.  First, there were the holes in the sides of the tubes.  Have you ever tried to pour something into a hole on a vertical plane?  It is not so easy because you cannot tip your cup high enough without loosing contact with the hole.



Of course, if you can find the right implement, you can pour all the pellets down the hole.









Second, there are the holes on the very top of the tubes that create a challenge the children cannot resist.

Reaching and Pouring from Thomas Bedard on Vimeo.

What is so great about this video is that the boy has to reach up as high as he can while standing on a stool all the time keeping his noodle scoop perpendicular to the tube until he can turn his wrist to pour the pellets into the top of the tube.  Did you see his expression upon completing his self-appointed task?  The smile is priceless.

Some of the most unique play was a direct result of the provisions offered with this apparatus. There were small pails, carabiners, and S-hooks.  Below you can see all three being used: a carabiner is clamped onto to the rope; an S-hook is hitched to the carabiner, and the handle of the pail is linked into the S-hook.
When the pail is attached this way, it hangs above the table and swings back and forth.

One child hooked several carabiners together and attached a pail to the lowest carabiner.  He proudly told everyone around him that it was a campfire.

In addition to the apparatus, the children took full advantage of the carabiners as unique manipulatives.
(Please note that these are not climbing grade carabiners.  Rather, they are tagged as D-clips in the hardware store where I found them.)

The S-hooks were also used as a new manipulative.


This girl makes linking the S-hooks look easy.  That is because she does it carefully and with great precision to make sure the original links are not broken.

This apparatus fostered many unique types of exploration and play that I will write about over the next couple of weeks.  In the meantime, I want to thank Juliet at Creative Star Learning for her original inspiration.





2 comments:

  1. Brilliant. Thanks for getting my brain wheels turning.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Sandi. Let me know if you have any questions. This apparatus was a lot of fun for me. It's alright for the teacher to have fun, too. Right?

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