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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, May 9, 2015


Two years ago, I wrote about an apparatus called the Oobleck Platform.  The frame of the Oobleck Platform is made from 3/4" PVC pipe.
The top is a sheet of 1/8" black plastic that I bought in the window section of a large hardware store. (The technical term for it is HDPE or high-density polyethylene.  In lay terms that is #2 plastic.) It is easy to cut with a utility knife and a straight edge.  I drilled the six rows of holes to allow the oobleck to flow through the sheet.

This year I added a PVC pipe that is cut in half lengthwise and attached from the Oobleck Platform to a second water table.
In essence what that did was provide yet another dimension---an incline---to an apparatus that already has several of the dimensions and elements from the list on the right-hand column of this blog.

For instance, the platform creates a horizontal surface on which the children do there operations. Watch how one child uses that horizontal surface to make a pancake.

If you have ever made pancakes on a griddle, you would have to agree that his operation with the oobleck on this surface sure looks a lot like making pancakes.   Where does that knowledge of his come from?

This platform is not just a horizontal surface.  It is also a second level the children use for their operations.  There is also a level underneath the platform, the bottom of the table, that the children access.
This child could have easily scooped oobleck on the sides of the apparatus, but this way she creates a challenge for herself by scooping oobleck from the table's bottom level in a more confined space underneath the platform within the frame of the apparatus. 

If you look at the child's hair, you can see strands of oobleck.  That is because she is also experiencing the oobleck dripping through the holes that were drilled in the in the plastic sheet. When oobleck is poured on the plastic sheet, the children get a unique view of oobleck going through small holes.  Watch.

Because of the physical characteristics of the oobleck, droplets form on the end and seem to pull a string of oobleck through the holes.  It seems like slow motion rain, oobleck rain.

Now lets contrast the motion of the oobleck dripping through the holes to the motion of the oobleck sliding down the inclined PVC pipe.  The child in the video likens it to flowing lava.

You can surely see why this looks like flowing lava.  Did you sense her anticipation as the "lava" gets closer and closer to her hand?   

By incorporating several dimensions and elements in one apparatus, the children are invited to play in many and varied ways.  And think about the role these dimensions and elements play in the transformation of the medium(the oobleck)by the children to make such a wide range of things from pancakes to lava.

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