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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, August 22, 2015

WORM SLIDE FAIL

Early in my career, I did a little dumpster diving.  Heck, that is how I got the plywood pieces for my first loft.  I hardly dumpster dive anymore, mainly because parents and colleagues know I build installations for the sensory table, so they are always bringing me all manner of usable scrap material. The last time I did dumpster dive was a couple of years ago when I was walking by a greenhouse that was going out of business.  I was intrigued by double-wall, clear plexiglass sheets in the dumpster.  I was intrigued enough to retrieve them.
What piqued my interest the most were the long, narrow channels.  In my mind, I thought they would make a great water apparatus.

Fast forward to this year.  After looking at the plexiglass for over two years, I finally decided what to do with them.  Make a Worm Slide.  I have made a couple of different Worm Slides.  One used long, narrow pvc pipes.

That was back in 2007.  A couple of years ago, I revived the Worm Slide and added clear plastic tubing woven through a hole in the crate that served as the base of the apparatus.

Why do I call these apparatuses Worm Slides?  Because I add plastic fishing worms or lures to the table for the children to put into the pipes or tubes.  Then, they flush them down by pouring water into those same pipes or tubes.  I'm always on the lookout for lures on sale at the end of the fishing season.


To make a new Worm Slide out of one of the plexiglas sheets, I first had to clean out the channels.  They were dirty to begin with, but with two more years of sitting outside, they were a mess.  How do you get spider webs out of a long, narrow tube.?  I used a rag and a long, narrow metal rod as a plunger and they cleaned up nicely.

I wanted to provide easier access to the narrow channels, so I cut 2 - 4" off the top of each channel.

I decided to lay one plexiglass sheet on top of the other in hopes of creating a cascade as the children poured the water into the channels.

There was one big problem with this configuration.  The two plexiglass sheets were too heavy together to keep stable on the slant.  The tape held for one class period, but I could tell that it was not going to last the week.  And besides, because the two sheets were clear, there was no discernible effect with the two sheets on top of each other.

I took the apparatus apart right after class.  Fortunately, I had a helper who was willing to plunge into the pvc frame to collect all the worms.
This is a perfect example of Axiom #2 in the righthand column of the blog which states that children will explore all space in any given apparatus no matter how big or how small.  I actually think that the task of retrieving the worms from inside the space created by the frame added a challenge that sustained the collecting until every worm was accounted for.

I consider this configuration of a Worm Slide a failure.  I recently read a quote from a scientist in which he basically said that science lives on failures.  Without failures, we are not compelled to find more and different solutions.

To be continued...




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