- Tom Bedard
- 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, December 6, 2014
Did you ever have the experience in which you had an idea, but when you actually got around to implementing it, it turned out to be completely different than what you had envisioned? I had this long, narrow box that I wanted to set up with a horizontal orientation. It was to look something like this:
The box was bigger than this, so I envisioned using two sand tables. I also wanted to put movable channel boxes inside the stationary channels.
What I quickly realized was that the box, if set on the horizontal, would be too long for my sensory table area. What to do? The idea struck to create an apparatus with two large incline planes with a peak in the middle. To do that, I scored the box in the middle. (Score the box means to cut the box, but not all the way through. Once the box is scored, it can be easily bent at the cut without the box coming apart.) To be able to bend the boxes down the middle, I had to cut the edges through, which left a triangle shaped space that was subsequently covered by a cardboard patch.
To give this structure stability, I had to embed a tower box into the middle of the two inclines. To embed the tower, I cut a slit the size of the tower box. I wanted the height of the tower box to be the same height as the peak. Here are a couple more views that give a better idea how the tower box is embedded and taped to the original box.
The tower box was not simply a support, though. A hole was cut in the top and in each side on the bottom for the children to use when pouring and retrieving the sand. (Think about how this child is experiencing space both above and below the apparatus.)
I had one big surprise with this apparatus. Since the large incline planes basically covered the whole table, I thought there would be a lot of spillage on the floor as the children moved the sand from the table to the structure. That did not happen. Instead, the children seemed to transport more carefully so there was less sand on the floor than usual.
There was one more surprise with this apparatus: Getting the sand through the bottom of the box became a two-stage process. Someone would pour the sand down the incline and it would collect at the bottom of the box. Another child would then shepherd the sand through the hole into the tub.
I started out with a box I thought would make a great horizontal structure. I ended up building something totally different. I know as I play with creating the spaces, the children play in and apprize those spaces in some surprising ways. For instance, look at the picture below. The child is playing outside the structure, but she is still playing in a space created by the structure.
This child is using a stool as a table next to the table and the structure. She is in an in-between space created by the wall behind her and the structure in front of her. She works from her knees because that in-between space is low; the table is low and so is the overhanging structure. To scoop sand she has to reach under the structure and pull the sand out. It is almost like the space helps her focus on her task at hand. Without the structure, her spatial experience would be totally different.
Posted by Tom Bedard at 12/06/2014