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, January 10, 2015


In the next month, I will be doing two conference presentations.   Because it takes me a long time to finish an original post, I will repost a few posts over the next few weeks that I wrote more than two years ago after another early childhood professional asked me the question: Why do I build?  I revisit them because they will also help me prepare for the second conference, which is a keynote presentation for the 15th Annual Launching into Literacy and Math Conference in Madison, Wisconsin at Madison College(MATC Truax) on February 7th.  This first repost recounts a transformation in my practice all because of a recycled five-gallon bucket.  

Saturday, September 8, 2012


This past June, another early childhood professional asked me: "Why do you build apparatus for the sensory table?"  Even though I have been doing it for over 23 years, I did not have good answer. I have been thinking a lot about that question ever since.

At this point, my answer harkens back to the second post of this blog from July, 2010.  The post was about the lowly 5-gallon pail that you see below.
A mother, who worked at a fast food restaurant, brought in this dill pickle pail and asked me if I could use it.  Maybe she thought since I had such a small room I could use it for storage. Instead---and because I had no place to store it---I put it near the sand table.  What happened next was transformative for my practice as an early childhood teacher.

You can read the first transformation in the post about the 5-gallon pail referenced above.  The gist of the post is that the children use the pail to transport in a constructive way (Axiom #1 in the right hand column).  As a consequence, my communication with the children becomes much more positive about their operations of transporting the medium out of the sand and water table.  In other words, instead of always saying: "No,! No dumping on the floor", I can now say: "Put it in the bucket."  That positive communication completely changes the tenor of my communication with the children at the table.

Something else happened in relation to the pail that transformed my practice.  I no longer felt like I had to micromanage the children around the table.  Rather, I began to see the children as capable of managing their own actions at the table.  Instead of managing, I was able to observe.  By taking the time to observe, I started to notice how the children were able to manage even more of their own actions.  This whole process is now a virtuous circle that carries the day throughout the classroom.  

That may seem like a lowly bucket, but it started it all.  The bucket afforded a chance for the children to figure out a constructive way to do what they needed to do: transport.  Since then, almost every apparatus incorporates opportunities for children to discover new and constructive ways to transport.  

Though I have not answered the question to my full satisfaction, it will do for now.  And I will keep building.

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