About Me

My photo
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, September 19, 2015


Two years ago, I created an apparatus I called Pipes Embedded in Planter Trays.  I took two 3/4 inch PVC pipes and embedded them through the length of two planter trays.  The pipes ran horizontally through the two trays an inch above the bottom of the trays.
Holes were drilled in the top of the pipes.  The idea was that children would need to fill the trays over the top of the pipes for water to enter the pipes and flow out the ends into tubs next to the table.

With this configuration, the children spent much of their efforts just pouring water into the trays and catching the water exiting the pipes.

This year, I added four vertical pipes to the horizontal pipes.  The vertical pipes fed directly into the horizontal pipes.
I also added another horizontal pipe running the length of the trays over the top of the trays.  I drilled bigger holes in this horizontal pipe.

Did the change in the apparatus change the play of the children?  No and yes.

Children still poured water into the trays and experimented with various ways of catching---or not---the water flowing out of the pipe ends.

But on the whole, the children spent much less time trying to fill the trays.  Instead, they did more experimenting with putting water into the vertical pipes.

One of the consequences of pouring the water into the vertical pipes was that it was not always easy to tell where the water went once it entered the vertical pipe.
I asked the child pictured above "Where did the water go?"  He looked under the tray and without skipping a beat said: "Under nowhere."   

Adding the vertical pipes definitely changed the children's focus of play and exploration.  It changed from filling the bottom of the trays and catching water out the ends of the pipes to putting water and basters into the top of the vertical pipes.  Was the appeal the size of the holes of the vertical pipes?  Was the attraction the new working levels created by the tops of the vertical pipes?  Was the enticement the added challenge to figure out the path of the water when poured into the vertical pipes?

This school year, I am experimenting with my modus operandi.  For as long as I can remember, I changed the apparatus in my sensory table every week.  This year, I will experiment with leaving the apparatus up for two weeks.  There are two reasons for the change.  First, I want to be able to offer some of my documentation back to the children and the parents for their input.  Secondly, I want to see if I can answer some of the questions I raise for myself after looking at my initial documentation.


  1. I think that's a wonderful idea, to leave your apparatus up for a longer time. I often thought you put so much time, thought and effort in the set-up, that it's a pity to dismantle so soon. Also, and maybe more importantly, children really need time to come back to the structure and discover as many aspects of it as possible. This takes a fresh perspective which is more readily achieved when they have time to explore and interact with each other and the apparatus. I'm interested to see how this works! Good luck.

    1. This will be harder for me because ideas for the sensory table just keep flowing. Also, even the youngest children come to school wondering what will be in the sensory table this week. I am afraid they wills say something like: "Oh, no, not that again."