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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, October 31, 2015


This school this year, we got new recycling bins.  That left us with a dilemma: What do we do with the plastic trash bins---two of them---we had been using for recycling?  They were perfectly good, but nobody needed them.  I offered to take them thinking I might be able to make something out of them.  My initial idea was to set them in the table upside down with tubes running in and out of them.  When I looked over my stash of tubes and hoses, something started to take shape.
Well over 10 years ago, a parent brought in a wired-reinforced tube made from strong flexible plastic.  The tube was large in terms of diameter, but short.  I could never seem to find a use for it.  I saw the tube and I saw the width of the trash bin and I saw it was a good match.  I also added a clear plastic tube that ran through the waste basket on a slant.  All this was done by simply using duct tape and a utility knife.

In part, the hole in the middle of the apparatus was a provocation with space.  How would the children react to a big hole where there should be no hole?  How would they explore this unusual space? 

In addition, children could pour water into the top of the trash bin through a hole cut in the top.  The question was:  Where did it go?

Children thought that the water dropped down into the big tube.  However, when they looked, the water did not fall or even drip into the big tube.  If they looked closely enough, though, they could see the water flowing around the outside of the big tube.

That was one trash bin, but there were two.  The second bin ended up to have the hoses running in and out of it.  The black hoses were attached to funnels at the top and then the hoses were woven inside the basket and exited at different points.
The clear, plastic tube also got embedded in the second waste basket.  It connected the two trash bins and connected children in play across the two bins.  In the picture above, one child poured water into the clear plastic tube on the high end and the other child caught it on the lower end.  Interestingly, one child did not need to see what the other child was doing to be connected in play.

There was a little trick to how the water came out of the black hoses because of how they were woven through the trash bin.  When water was poured into the black funnel, it exited through the hose closest the beige funnel.
I have to admit that I even fooled myself.  Two days after I had set this apparatus up, I kept pouring water into the beige funnel and looking for the water to come out into the black tub.  I even got a little worried that I had woven it in such a way as to produce a kink in the line.  Then I realized that the water poured into the beige bucket was set up to empty back into the table.

I dare say that the play fostered by the trash bin apparatus was anything but rubbish.

If you are going to the NAEYC national conference in Orlalndo in November, I am presenting on sand and water tables.  The session is on Thursday morning from 8:00-9:30.   Any readers of the blog who want to share stories or chat, I would love to find a time to meet.  Please feel free to contact me through my email: tpbedard@msn.com

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