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Early childhood education has been my life for over 40 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, June 21, 2014


I did not think that I would do any original building posts on my trip to the UK and the Netherlands. I did a building workshop up in Aberdeenshire and watched the participants build things using the materials provided and their imagination.  No two were alike.

They inspired me.  I ended up taking some of the left over materials so I could make an apparatus or two to show early years practitioners in Edinburgh the following day.  When I reached Edinburgh, I got settled and took the materials I acquired in Aberdeenshire to build an apparatus or two.  What else does one do in Edinburgh?

I began with two butter boxes side-by-side.  If I wanted to be real simple I could just tape the two together and I would have two spaces for children to pour into and take out of.

But there was a third box that I wanted to put on top of the two boxes.  To do that I had to create a ledge or platform to put it on.  To do that I planned to insert one box partially inside the other.  I had to cut all the flaps off one box, but keep the flaps on the other.

The next step was to cut slits on two sides and the bottom of the box that still had the flaps and then insert that box into the other.

The two boxes are taped together and the flaps folded over to make a platform for the third box to go on top.  It is a smaller box with a hole cut out of the bottom to attach it to the structure.

It is a simple structure, but an interesting structure that has an element I have never used in my building before. By combining the two boxes in the way outlined above, a chamber is created under the little box on top.  When children pour sand into the top, it drops down into the chamber. On one side there is an outlet, but the other side of the chamber is closed.  That way, when children begin to fill the side with no outlet, they start to experience volume at an elemental level.

Here is a picture of the finished apparatus.  Mind you, it is not fully duct taped, nor has it been tested   by my expert R&D crew back in the USA.  It will be on the testing block come Fall when classes start up again.

P. S.  I would have loved to get out the hotel in Edinburgh to see the sites, but on the way in I popped a tire on a sharp curb.  I was not going to go driving around the city after that.  Building in the hotel room was good therapy for me.

P.P.S.  If you want to see how someone is using the ideas in this blog in a really unique way, check out Juliet Robertson's latest post at Creative Star Learning called: The "Sensori" Water Station.  I am blow away by her ideas.  They are much better than the piddly little box structure in this post.

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