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, November 14, 2015


In the March 1994 issue of the Child Care Information Exchange, Loris Malaguzzi wrote:
"We need to produce situations in which children learn by themselves,
in which children can take advantage of their own
knowledge and resources autonomously... (p. 54)"

In a recent piece from the Bing Nursery School at Stanford, Colin Johnson wrote:
"...through the lens of inquiry—of valuing internal, cognitive interactions 
with materials—playing with water is the perfect foundation for scientific thinking 
because it increases children’s tendency to spend more time 
noticing, wondering and exploring."

I want to share a video with you that illustrates both of these points.  I took the video as I watched a child explore one section of a recent apparatus: Trash Bin II.  
The section the child explores in the video is the bin on the left with the funnels and black hoses.

The hoses drop into the bin from the funnels; exit about midway down the bin; and are strapped around the outside of the bin.  
Because the paths of the hoses are partially hidden within the apparatus, a child has to do some research to understand how the apparatus works.

The video shows one child at the sensory table.  There were many more earlier, but this child has been at the table for at least 30 minutes trying to figure out where the water comes out when he pours it into each and every tube and funnel.  

As the video starts, he is looking at the water trickling out the black hose near the bottom of the right side of the left bin.

He scoops some water in his plastic measuring cup from the table to pour into the beige funnel.  In the process of pouring he says: "Watch this one come out."

He is already anticipating where it will come out, so when he pours, he immediately looks to his right to the bottom of the bin on that side.

He steps off his stool and crouches down to watch the water come out of the hose.

At this point, something amazing happens, he starts to trace the paths of the two hoses with his eyes and his hands.   He first traces the hose that has the water coming out.  He realizes that there is a second hose.  He points up at the black funnel and says that it goes around here... 

...as he continues tracing the second hose with his hands and his eyes.
Here is the video clip.

The child is not talking to me.  He is verbalizing his thoughts as he is executing them.  This child is constructing knowledge right before our very eyes.  He is learning by himself through internal, cognitive interactions with the materials.  Or, does his external, physical interactions with the materials usher in the internal, cognitive interactions with the materials?  Or, is there an interplay between the two that can't---or shouldn't---be separated?  Or, does one augment the other in an intricate dance.  In any case, his thinking is clearly visible in the movie clip .

I showed the video to the child's parents.  They realized very quickly what their child was doing and were duly impressed.  That is all the more true because whenever they would ask him what he did in school, he would basically say nothing.  The parents now have a different picture of their child at school.  They now have a picture of him as a competent scientist.

I will be taking a week off from my blog.  I will be at the NAEYC national conference in Orlando this next week.  If you are interested in hearing about building apparatus in and around the sensory table, I am on the docket for 8:00 Thursday morning.  

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for walking through the process of how kids are working through this type of learning. Great stuff!