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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, December 5, 2015

CONCRETE FORMING TUBE APPARATUS

When I find myself in a large hardware store, I often meander a bit looking at the materials with an eye for something to use in the sensory table.  This past summer, I found concrete forming tubes.  These tubes are used to set posts in concrete.  The tubes I found were 4 feet high and 8 inches in diameter.  My initial thought was that these tubes were big enough to hold other, smaller tubes.  With that beginning spark the Concrete Forming Tube Apparatus was born.

I bought two concrete tubes.  One I did not cut; the second one I cut so I had two pieces, one 2.5 feet tall and the other 1.5 feet tall.  That way, when I placed them in the table, they formed a gradient.  On that gradient, I set a long cardboard tube by cutting slits in the top of each concrete tube.  I taped the cardboard tube to the concrete tubes to hold it in place.

In addition, I embedded a clear, plastic tube through the two tallest concrete tubes.  The clear tube emptied back into the table right next to the smallest concrete tube.

Because this is a vertical piece, I needed to make sure it was secure so it would not topple over when the children grabbed onto it.  I taped three rods that spanned the width of the table to the lip of the table.  I then taped the concrete tubes to the rods for stability.  I also taped the cardboard tube to the lip of the table.
That still did not make the apparatus stable enough.   Before I added the pellets, I taped each of the concrete tubes to the bottom of the table.  Surprisingly, taping the bottom of the concrete tubes to the bottom of the table was enough to finally make the apparatus child-worthy.  And child-worthy it was.

I want to end with a word of caution.  If you build an apparatus vertical, the children will go as vertical(high) as the apparatus.  Watch.

Going vertical from Thomas Bedard on Vimeo.

Two children climbed up on the lip of the table to reach the highest point of the apparatus so they could pour pellets down the cardboard tube.  You may have noticed that when they climbed, they grabbed onto the tubes which tested the stability of the apparatus.  The apparatus moved slightly but stayed secure in the table.  Would you be comfortable with that?  If you would not, build only as high as your comfort level.

Just to be clear, when I build this high, I am making moment-by-moment decisions about safety versus benefits.   I do get a little nervous when they climb high, but then I move close enough to gauge how each child is measuring their own risk level.  If they are doing a good job of measuring their own risk, then I begin to see the benefits: they are building their strength, balance and coordination in ways they author themselves.  All their neurons are firing; they are building brain cells.  At this point, the benefits far exceed the risks so I am able to relax a bit and let them climb. 

2 comments:

  1. Thanks. Had our playground re-vamped last week and although I 'acquired' some of these from the builders during & before they took them away, I wasn't sure how I could make them more interesting than the usual. Now I know. Thanks again.

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    1. I am glad I gave you an idea on how to use them. There are really many different ways to use them. Hopefully, I can find another use for them.

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