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, June 28, 2014


I have finished my training tour in the UK.  I must say that I have gotten a little tired of hearing myself talk.  What I did not get tired of was all the great conversations I had with a variety of practitioners. The other thing I never grew tired of was watching the building process of others unfold and witnessing  their inventiveness and creativity.

All of the talks and workshops started with an opportunity to review documentation highlighting different constructions.

The next part of any presentation was the talk and the PowerPoint.  In Wales, I was a keynote with Elizabeth Jarman at their conference called The Potential of Provision.

Half of the presentations in the UK also included actual building where the practitioners could try to create their own structures. That was when the real fun began.  And it always began with gathering the materials and discussing the possibilities.
That takes a lot of communication and collaboration.  Those processes, though, do not stop once the building begins.  Those processes take on immediate significance as the groups tried to create a shared construction.
For some it was the first time using a power tool.

For others, it was not.

Needless to say, they was always a bit of fun.

In the end, no two structures were the same.

And so many of the structures had totally unique elements as a result of the creativity of the builders themselves.

Now that the UK tour is over, I have begun to think about the sustainability of the building process for the participants.  I know from over 25 years of building experience that some of the creations will die a quick death once the children have at them.  When that happens, what will be the response of their creators?  Will it be a once-and-done?  "Oh, I have tried that and it did not work." Or will it be an opportunity to learn a bit about the construction and materials and how the children approach them so the building process can be improved upon?  Or will it be an opportunity to bring the children into the process?  And when all is said and done, what factors will encourage continued building?  Will it be availability of resources?  Will it be support and encouragement of colleagues?  Will it be the children and their needs?  What will it be?

Thank you UK practitioners who attended the talks and workshops.  It was brilliant; you were brilliant.


  1. Thanks Tom - I'm really enjoying your up-dates. I think for me, the construction is one aspect of your work, but the trick is to focus on the axioms, dimensions and elements which are a very transferable to any context where we are creating spaces for children to play.

    When I had the opportunity to create the water station, what frustrated me most was that I was not able to leave the construction up for the children to return to, and nor was I working at the nursery on a regular basis. When this happens, the magic is in the tweaking and changing of structures in accordance with how the children play. There is something very significant and interesting which happens when adults and children do this symbiotically. I may have to borrow my neighbours' children over the summer and experiment.

    1. Hi Juliet, Since Aberdeen, I have really come to appreciate your thinking. Building for me has been such a big part of what I do, but you have made me think more in terms of looking at the spaces and how children exist and operate in those spaces. Since those spaces are everywhere---inside and out---some constructed and some there naturally, the opportunity to observe and learn from children and their natural inclination to explore and experiment is endless.