About Me

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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.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The act of building

I have never documented the entire building process for an apparatus.  Part of the reason may be that the building process for me is an organic process.  Rarely is it completely planned out.  I start with a global idea and a collection of loose parts and then I begin to put it together. 

Let's start with one global idea: a worm slide.  The idea was for the children to place plastic worms (fishing lures without hooks) into pipes so when they poured water down the pipes the worms would be flushed down into another tub.

Here was the first version I built over 12 years ago.  It was extremely simple.  Two plastic PVC pipes were set on an incline using an upside down planter tray as a base.

Pictured below are some of the loose parts I started out with for this year's version of the worm slide.  There was a white wooden tray, a narrow PVC pipe, a couple of crates and clear plastic tubing.
I decided to use both my water tables.  I taped them together using black duct tape.  I did not need to tape them together, but the taping job also served as an apron that closed a gap between the two tables which cut down on the water spillage.

I started building the worm slide by placing a planter tray across the width of the small table.  The tray was wider than the table, so it was important to make sure there was a drainage hole.
I have learned over the years that the children see the planter tray as another container to fill.  Without the drainage hole, the water could spill over the sides of the planter tray all over the floor.

I taped the planter tray to the small table and then taped the pink crate on top of the planter tray. 

I then set the white wooden tray across the width of the blue table.  To tape it to the table, I crossed taped at each point where the tray rested on the lip of the table.  One piece of tape went from the tray to inside the table and the other piece of tape went from the tray to the outside of the table and under the lip.
In addition, I took a longer piece of tape to wrap around the two points of cross taping on the same side at the lip of the table.  This is called thrashing and tightens up the tape holding the tray down to make it more secure. 

On top of the wooden tray, I anchored a green crate using duct tape.  I used the same method of cross taping and thrashing.
This setup comprised the base of the apparatus.  I now had multiple levels and holes to which I could start attaching different elements.

The first element I added was a plastic chute that went from the brown planter tray to the wooden tray.  The idea was to have the children put worms on the chute, pour water onto the chute and watch the worms drop out into the table through a hole in the green crate.

The second element I added was a long, narrow PVC pipe with a slit cut down the length of the pipe.  The pipe was embedded through the green crate and emptied into the smaller table.  I taped the pipe on the front and the back end of the crate  That was stable enough so I did not need to tape it to the lip of the table at the bottom of the pipe.
The idea here was to have the children use their fine motor skills to put the floppy worms into the pipe and then use more muscle coordination to pour water down the narrow pipe to send the worm shooting down and out into the small water table.

The third element I added was a long, flexible plastic tube.  I ran it through the pink crate and taped it onto the green crate on the outside.  The end of the tube emptied into the blue table.
Why did I tape it to the outside of the crate instead of through it?  I don't honestly know.  It was one of those organic decisions that was made at the moment.

The fourth and final element was a long, clear plastic tube.   The tube was woven through the green crate...
and it emptied into the black tub on the end the table.

There you have the 2016 version of the worm slide.  All that was left to do was to turn it over to the children for testing.  Actually, that was not all that was left to do because when the children tested the apparatus, some things did not work as planned.  

After one session with the children, the first thing I changed was the plastic chute.   As it turned out,  the incline was too slight to have much effect.  In other words, the worms would just pile up on the chute.  I reversed the incline of the chute and made it steeper so it emptied into the brown planter tray. The second thing I did was to remove the clear plastic tubing because the worms kept getting stuck in it.  When I removed the tubing, nothing emptied into the black tub so I reversed the inclination of the thin PVC pipe so it emptied into the black tub.  The only element I did not change was the flexible tubing running through the pink crate.  By the second session, this is what the worm slide looked like.
Did you understand all that?  If you did, your spacial literacy is off the charts.  

The purpose of showing you the building process from start to finish---and revamping---was not to have you copy what I did.  You can certainly do that if you want.  No, the purpose was to give you an idea of the building process.  The act of building is a creative process that begins with you.  Use what you find in this blog, combine it with the loose parts you have on hand and use your imagination to put it all together.  


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