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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, January 4, 2014

TABLE EMBEDDED IN A BOX

If you have read this blog long enough, you know that I like to build things with big boxes.  People around me know that and are always offering me boxes.  The custodian in my building is no exception.  Back in October, he presented me with a big box.  I have written about a Big Box next to the table.  I have written about a Big Box on Top of the Table.  And I have written about a Big Box Incline.  For some particular reason, this box called out to encase part of the table, thus creating: Table Embedded in a Box.

One of the first things one of the children asked me when he saw the table in the box was how did the table get inside the box.   

The first decision was where to position the table inside the box. After deciding, I outlined the area I wanted to cut to accommodate the table.    
I cut the hole in the box with a utility knife.  I removed the bin from the frame of the table and inserted the frame through the hole.  
There is one thing to note about this arrangement: the table is purposefully placed in one side of the box leaving a space next to it for the children to use as a play space inside the box.

After putting the table in the box, all the flaps were duct taped shut.  Holes were cut in the sides so the children could reach through the box to get at the table.  One of the holes included an opening in part of the top of the box so children did not all have to bend over to reach into the table.

Two other holes were cut so children could crawl in and out the box to explore the space created by having the table set up in the box.
Do you see the two 5-year-olds in the box playing at the table embedded in the box?  They are big in a small place, but they willingly accommodate.

And indeed it can get quite crowded in the space inside the box.
It may look like there is a tussle going on, but both these children are just trying to change positions in a tight space.  It helps to know that these two children are always on the move even in open spaces.  To continually change places in the box, they continually have to negotiate space.  Sometimes that is done verbally, but these two were adept at doing is physically with their bodies without creating friction. I have seen more fractious contact when bodies are this close in open spaces.  Why is that?

Since this space was so attractive, more children wanted to go in than would fit.  That set up a situation in which the children needed to negotiate use of the space: who is in and who is out.  To explain how that happened would take another entire post.  Suffice it to say, they did it with great facility and no conflict.  Part of the ease of taking turns was the fun of crawling in and out of the box and part of it was that it got hot inside the box if someone stayed in a long time. 

If you look at Axiom #2 on the right-hand column of this blog, you will see that children will find and use all the spaces created by an apparatus.  For the Table Embedded in the Box, that means there is also the space underneath the table for a children to discover.
 
How must it feel to "swim" in the pellets in this tight space?  

I have never had a child play underneath the table.  I have had children reach far underneath the table to retrieve something or to sweep, but to actually spend time underneath the table and play there?---no. Because part of the the table is embedded in the box, a novel space is created that opens a window of opportunity to discover the space underneath the table.  And the best way to do it is with your whole body. 

A space created is a space found.






2 comments:

  1. Are you sure your not an engineer! It's fascinating watching your posts develop and the children exploring their ideas. :-)

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    1. Annette, When I started college, I thought I would be a scientist. I took physics and calculus spring semester of my first year and that made me re-evaluate my plans. Of course the nice spring weather did interfere with studying and questioned my whole commitment to college in general. I actually quit school for a year after that semester. When I came back, I changed my focus to child psychology.

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