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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, July 8, 2017

Flex tube in a bucket

Here is an oldie but goodie.  I built the flex tube in a bucket over 20 years ago by taping an aluminum tube into a five-gallon bucket.
 
The aluminum tube was left over from the tubing I used to vent a new water heater I installed back then.  I originally thought I would incorporate it in a box structure but I eyed the bucket first and viola!  I propped the tube in the bucket by wedging it between the handle and the bucket.  Then I taped the whole thing together with lots of duct tape.
To make it more inviting to pour into, I added a funnel at the top.  Also, by taping the funnel to the top, I was able to cover any sharp edges at the top of the aluminum tube.

In one way, it worked just as planned: the children could pour the sand in the funnel and they could manipulate the tube by bending it.  However, before too long I realized the design flaw: when the tube was bent , the sand would get stuck in the bend which made the apparatus unstable.  Subsequently, I taped a stick to the aluminum tube to restrict how much the children could bend the tube.
If you look closely, you can see how I did the taping for this project.   I first taped the tube with horizontal strips that held it to the side of the bucket.  I tucked the horizontal strips of tape slightly behind the tube to hold the tube snug against the bucket.  Next, I used vertical strips secured over the lip of the bucket to reinforce the horizontal strips.  I taped the tube so it was six inches from the bottom of the pail otherwise sand would build up in the tube.  I taped the stick at the bottom and the top to the bucket and then wound tape around the tube and the stick to make the tube more rigid.

I never used this as a stand-alone piece.  Instead, I used it as an additional bucket into which the children could transport.  To understand why transporting is important, see axiom #1 on the right hand column of the blog.  To get even a better understanding of why transporting into pails is important, read my second-ever post from 2010 here.



Since it was a stand-alone piece, I would use in combination with other apparatus.  I could easily set it up with water apparatus either outdoors or indoors.








The flex tube in a bucket worked just as well with sand. 






People have often asked me for ideas for sand and water play without a sand and water table.  This could pass for one of those ideas.  Add a few more buckets or tubs and the children will transport to their hearts content. 

The quality of the pictures was not so good because I had to take digital pictures of prints that are over 20 years old.  The apparatus lasted for at least three years.  However, I never recreated this apparatus after I started taking digital pictures.  Why?  I am not sure because I did use the aluminum tubing again in apparatus when I was taking digital pictures, but never in the same way. 

What that tells me is that I used my documentation early on simply as a means of recording what I built with snippets of children playing at the apparatus.  I did not use the documentation to think about what I built and how children used it.  I am glad the images are still around for me to reflect on now, but some of the riches of how children thought with the apparatus are gone. 


Just an end note:  I will be one of the presenters for the Fairy Dust 2017 Virtual Summer Conference.  The conference begins in a few days on July 10th.  With the virtual conference, you will be able to access the conference any time you want and as many times as you want.  You can check out the lineup and the topics here.





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