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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.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A NEW CHANNEL BOARD

Back in October 2012, I wrote a post about an apparatus I call the Channel Board.  
The Channel Board is a flat board (18" wide and 36" long) divided into three channels.  2"x 4" pieces of wood are screwed to the board through the bottom to form the channels.  Each channel is rigged with a different surface so when the children pour water down, they see how water flows over different surfaces.

One of the big issues with this apparatus was that it was very heavy and hard to keep securely taped down.  This past week I remade this apparatus using lighter materials.   I took a sheet of black plastic and used screws to attach 1"x 2" pre-finished molding to form the channels.

To give the plastic sheet extra strength so it would not bow in the middle, I made a frame out of 3/4" PVC pipe.  I first screwed the strips of wood from the back onto the sheet of black plastic.

 I then screwed the frame onto the black plastic sheet.

The first apparatus had bubble wrap, plastic drainage pipe and rubber matting.  I wanted to try something else this time around.  In one end channel, I screwed in several DRICORE squares used for leveling floors. They are plastic squares that measure 5"x 5" with little nubs all in a row.  
I actually bought these squares several years ago thinking I would use them someday for an apparatus at the sensory table.  And finally---voila!

In the other end channel, I attached rubber matting.  I used carpet transition pieces on both ends to hold it down and in place.  The rubber matting is purposefully attached with the ribs perpendicular to the channel walls so there is a ripple effect to the water flow.  
I used rubbing matting before, but this time I glued pieces of pipe underneath so that there would be bumps for this version of the apparatus.  You get a better view of the bumps under the rubber mat with a side view.
This view also shows how a planter tray is used to create the incline for the apparatus.  

I did not purposefully leave the middle channel clear.  I glued rocks to the middle channel with liquid nails.  You cannot see the rocks because one of the first undertakings of the children was to see if they could remove the rocks.  As is very apparent, they were successful.

Even though I was disappointed to see the rocks removed, it actually led to a lot of good experimentation in the middle channel.  For instance, the children discovered there was a dramatic effect to the water rushing down the middle channel, especially compared to the water flowing down the  two end channels.  Watch as sheets of water rush down the center channel.


Did you see at the end the child placing the car in the channel?  He releases it just as he pours the water with his other hand?  Is he trying to make the car go faster by purposefully placing it in the stream of water?  There had to be a certain amount of thrill to see the water zoom down the channel.  Is that feeling intensified when a car is added to the flow?

Contrast that episode with an episode of a child rolling a motorcycle down the channel with the rubber matting and the bumps.


Herein lies the beauty of this apparatus.  It provides children with a chance to experiment with flow over different surfaces.  The flow can be with water, cars or other objects.   Not only are there endless possibilities for the children to experiment, but there are endless possibilities for the builder to experiment and be creative with equipping the channels with different surfaces. 

What would you like to see in the channels?  Now go try it.







2 comments:

  1. Brilliant. The video clips really illustrate the value of leaving the middle channel clear. I like the idea of the wavy bumps on the right hand channel too.

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    1. Thanks Juliet. I was really trying to use rocks to bring a little nature into the classroom. I had this vision that it would be like a stream with water babbling over the rocks. In this case, the children's vision won out with some nice results. Can you tell I had a little fun building this---especially the bumps.

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