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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, October 25, 2014


I made some modifications to the the Triangle Dividers.

I made three to be exact: a partial roof over the middle area; a cardboard tube embedded in the roof; and a false bottom for the middle area.

Let's start with the false bottom.  

I cut the bottom of a box, the dimension of which I knew would fit into the middle area. Using two cardboard sheets, I added a cross section to the inside of the box bottom to give it more load bearing strength.

I placed the box bottom in the middle area so the solid end was up. Next, I placed a piece of cardboard cut to fit snugly into the middle area onto the box bottom.  Finally, I duct taped the piece of cardboard around the edges to hold it in place and to prevent leakage into the bottom of the table.

You can easily see the difference in in the children's operations with the false bottom in place.  On the left, where there is no false bottom, the child has to stretch are far as she can to even get a cup.  She gets the cup, but cannot reach the pellets. The child on the right, where there is a false bottom, stretches, but he is stretching to get the pellets.

For the cardboard tube, I had to cut an oval in the roof so the tube would be straight up and down. If I just cut a circle the circumference of the tube, the tube would enter the roof with an incline perpendicular to the roof.  If I tried to force the tube to be straight, I would rip the cardboard.

On the inside, I duct taped the tube into a corner for stability.  Notice, also, I cut a notch in the bottom of the tube so the pellets could flow out freely when poured down the tube.  I learned the hard way that the tube has to be several inches off the false bottom otherwise some of the objects the children put down the tube cannot be extracted.  (I say I learned the hard way because I had to destroy one false bottom to get a bottle out of the tube.)

Modifications in the original apparatus will necessarily change the play and exploration around the apparatus.  So, how did the modifications change the play?

The main difference was the added focus for play around the cardboard tube.  That included pouring pellets into the hole.
That is not as easy as it looks because the child has to continually gauge the position of her cup and the rate of pouring to maximize how much she is able to pour in the tube.

Seeing where the pellets go.

And even doing both at the same time.
This child poured and watched the pellets come out the bottom of the tube.  How great is that to be able to reference your own action when you can only monitor the beginning and the end and not what happens in the middle?

A favorite activity was to plug the tube.  The children learned quickly that if they put other objects in the tube, it was easy to plug.  If you plug the tube, though, you do have to figure out how to unplug it.  And the children did.  Watch as these two boys unplug the tube by removing the sticks they had originally put in the tube.  Listen for the grunting and the counting.

Did you notice the third child.  She was the observer taking it all in.  She started in the same space as the child at the bottom window, but moved to the next window over to get a better view. Never discount the observer; in her own way she is as active as the other two.

Play and exploration around the apparatus did not totally change with the modification.  There was still plenty of activity in the triangular spaces and through of the various windows.
As proof, look at the picture above.  There are seven children total.  Two of them are focused on the tube.  The other five are around the table doing their own operations in the those original divided spaces.

Modifications create a whole host of new possibilities for play. In this case, they added great play value as the children appropriated the novel spaces and elements.  


  1. I can not say how much I enjoy your blog. I love to incorporate some of your projects into my small home daycare. Thank you for all of your hard work.

    1. Thanks Heather. I would love to see pictures. If you ever feel like sharing, send them via email through my profile. I would never post them on the blog unless I got permission but I would still like to see what people do with the ideas in the blog