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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, January 14, 2017

Snow table

In October 2015,  I built two trash bin apparatus from plastic waste baskets.  We had been using the two white trash bins at school for recycling.  The school got nice new recycling bins and no one wanted the old white bins.  I decided to claim them to see if I could make something new for the sensory table.  When I was done making, one of the new trash bin apparatus looked like this.
Through the middle of the bin, I embedded a large, wired-reinforced tube made from strong flexible plastic.  I wove a smaller flexible tube from the top of the bin through the bottom and out along the side of the bin.  And finally, I embedded a clear plastic tube diagonally through the bin.  I set it up at the sensory table with water.

A couple of weeks ago, I was outside playing in the snow with my grandson.  The snow was hard and crunchy and there was meager supply to say the least.  I thought I might be able to extend our outdoor play a bit if I could find some tubes to use with the snow.  My original idea was to have us fill the tubes with snow.  I did pull out some tubes, but I also found the trash bin apparatus I had built in 2015.

I set the bin on the seat of our picnic table.  My grandson was already on top of the table busy breaking the ice and smashing the hard snow.  Since there was no good snow on top of the table, we had to search for some decent stuff in another section of the yard.  We found some in a section of the parking area where the sun doesn't shine.  We filled a green bucket and brought it back to the table.
As he started to put snow in the end of the clear tube, I found a plastic chute to connect to the tube.  The idea was to create a path to the ground for the snow dropping out of the tube.  However, the chute kept falling down when the apparatus moved as he scooped snow in the tube.  Offhandedly I said the chute wouldn't stay connected.  To that my grandson said I should use some duct tape.  He knows me too well.  I followed his advice and used some green duct tape to connect the tube to the chute.

For over 45 minutes and several trips to mine some more decent snow to refill his green bucket, he scooped the snow into the clear plastic tube.  In the process, he would constantly check to see if it came out the other end and to see if the chute to the ground was filling up with snow.

He used a broken ice cream scoop to shovel the snow into the tube.  When the end of the tube was full, he used a duct-taped piece of wood to push it down the tube.

Snowtube play from Thomas Bedard on Vimeo.

After pushing the snow with the piece of wood, he took a measure of his work by looking down the clear tube.  

I had hoped to extend our outdoor play a little.  It did that an more.   It inspired a whole set of operations that my grandson created to constructively transport the snow through the tube and down the chute. 

Oh, and by the way, we had a lot of fun, too.

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