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Early childhood education has been my life for over 40 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, July 18, 2015


In Minnesota, we have a fair amount of snow in the winter.  One of the great winter activities is sliding down hills on all kinds of apparatus from sleds to toboggans to even cardboard boxes. One of those contraptions is a snow saucer.

It is a plastic disc with handles.  It is bowl-shaped to ride above the snow.

Did you know the the snow saucer can be utilized in the summer, too?  Put some sand in it and set it on a table and you have an impromptu sandbox.

I did not set this up.  My wife set this up for our grandson.  For me, though, it was pure genius. First, it provides a comfortable level on which to work.  The saucers are set on summer tables that are 17 inches off the ground.  Perfect for a two and a half year old.  Second, the two saucers are connected with an improvised bridge made from a piece of gutter screen.

I did add one feature to the sandbox: a box into which my grandson could transport the sand from the saucer sandbox.
Axiom #1 on the right-hand column of this blog states that children need to transport whatever is in the table out of the table.  In the picture above you can see a pile of sand on the grass that was dumped there before I found something for my grandson to dump it into.  When I told him he should have something to pour into, he actually suggested using the blue pail seen in the saucer. It was a good suggestion, but I wanted something bigger to catch as much of the sand as possible.  The first thing I found was a box destined for recycling.

It was immediate and temporary and worked out quite nicely.  I am always a bit surprised at how well this works; maybe it has to do with offering the child a target for his actions.   

And there seems to be an added attraction of dropping things from heights.

The advantage of this temporary solution is twofold:  It satisfies his need to transport sand out of the table and, when he is all done, the sand can be easily poured back into the saucer sandbox.

When all is said and done for the day, the saucer sandbox contraption is easily put away and covered.

This quirky type of genius must run in the family.  Earlier this summer, my daughter made a water table of sorts out of a snow sled.  My grandson looks pretty comfortable in an industrious sort of way with his chair partially in the sled water table.

I am kidding when I say this quirky type of genius must run in the family.  There are countless examples of others in the blogosphere combining ordinary objects into something new.

This post is a celebration of how the ordinary can be transformed into something else that is ordinary. Two ordinaries, of course, make something that is extra-ordinary.

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