I will admit that when I first started writing this blog, it was mainly a platform for me to share the things I build at the sensory table. However, the more I document and the more I write, the more important it is form me to also show how children explore the apparatus.
Let's take some concrete examples from the latest apparatus: Tall Cardboard Tubes and Rope.
Let's start with the rope. The child in the video wants to see how long the blue rope is. To do that, he pulls the rope hand-over-hand until he reaches the cabinets. At that point, he turns sideways which actually makes it more difficult for him to find the rope as he crosses his body with his arm and hand to grab the rope each time. Finally, he reaches his self-selected goal and pulls the rope taut.
How long is the rope? from Thomas Bedard on Vimeo.
There is a simple beauty in that little bit of exploration. And besides, he has created a way to take a measure of the rope.
The space was provisioned with carabiners, S-hooks and pails so the children could hook things onto the rope. They certainly did that, but they did it in ways I did not expect. In the video below, the child first scoops from a pail hanging from a S-hook and a carabiner. Notice that he has to steady the pail in order to spoon the pellets. He then decides to dump the pellets back into the table. He has to pull the whole pail back over the table. He uses both hands, but then he places his left arm under the pail and his right hand on the lip to tip the pail. As he finishes emptying the bucket, he gently releases the bucket to swing back into place almost as if he is anticipating the subsequent motion.
Swinging pail from Thomas Bedard on Vimeo.
We have never had swinging pails in the classroom yet this child is quite adept at working with such a configuration. Why is that?
I would say the tall vertical tubes were the focal point of most of the activity. That included the bottom of the tube. Watch the following video to see the child is using a stick to extract pellets from the bottom of the tube. She uses her hand near the end but then goes back to using the stick.
Scraping pellets with a stick from Thomas Bedard on Vimeo.
Not only is this child showing persistence in her actions, but she has also created her own tool to realize those actions.
Many children would pour pellets down the top of the tube. In the picture below, the child is both pouring pellets into the top of the tube and he has stuck his hand in one of the holes to feel the pellets fall on his hand as they travel down the tube.