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.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Playing in the rain

We watch our grandchildren a few times each month.  Over the last month, we have watched them twice while it was raining.  The first time it rained, I got out an apparatus called Pipes embedded in planter trays that I have been storing in my garage.  I built the apparatus for school a few years ago.  For the apparatus to work, the children have to fill the trays over the top of the pipes for water to spill into the holes on the top of the pipes.  Once the water spills into the pipes, the water exits the pipes at the end of the table.

For my two granddaughters, I simply propped the apparatus on the summer swimming pool and a couple of storage tubs.  We would take turns filling the trays and catching the water coming out the ends of the pipes.

The older of the two granddaughters used a funnel backwards to direct the water from the pipe into the black pail on the ground.  How is that for fashioning her own tool to direct the water where she wants it to go?

The younger one ended up at the sand table---a snow saucer containing sand that sat on top of a little lawn table. She kept piling the sand up saying she was making a mountain.  Her sister ended up joining her. 
Was my toddler granddaughter using the wet sand to represent the mountains she had just experienced on a family trip to Colorado?   Are you getting the idea that my grandchildren are above average?

Two weeks later, the older granddaughter and my grandson were over and it happened to be raining again.  Instead of bringing out any apparatus, we set up funnels and cups over the sewer grate in the alley behind the house.

I wanted to create a little greater flow into the grate so I bought out a snow shovel and started pushing the water to the grate.  Well, shoveling water became a thing.  My two grandchildren went in the garage to get their little "water" shovels. 

I also brought out flexible plastic tubes.  I thought we might be able to direct the water coming down the alley into the grate.  That did not work.  Instead, the children inserted the tubes as far as they could into the grate.  

Once they put the tubes all the way into the grate, they started pulling them out as fast as they could.  Why?  Maybe because pulling the tubes through the grate created a ripping sound or maybe because...?

I also brought out long PVC pipes.  I dropped them down into the grate to see how far they would go in.  They went halfway in before hitting bottom.  When I pulled them out, the two grandkids worked very hard to reinsert the pipes back into the grate.  Once they had reinserted the pipes in the grate, I decided to slide the flexible tubes over the pipes.   They immediately made up their own game of launching the tubes from the pipes.

Launching the tubes from Thomas Bedard on Vimeo.

Because the pipes were so high, I had to keep replacing the tubes over the pipes.  I did not mind because there were too many good things going on, not the least of which were my grandchildren helping each other out and cheering each other on.

Both days we got soaking wet even though we had on our rain jackets and boots.  We did not care because we were so absorbed in our play.  The play was not built around toys to be bought.  It emerged spontaneously in our interactions with each other and the materials.   I can't forget the part rain played in our play because the rain made our entire world one big water table.

Just a 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.

One final end note:  I will be presenting a version of the this presentation at the NAEYC national conference.  I recently learned that my presentation has been chosen as one of the ten featured presentations for the national conference in November.


  1. Your grandchildren may enjoy Oakiwear rain suits. My kids can play outside SO long with them and get into all sorts of mischief and mud!

    1. If the weather is warm enough next time, we won't even wear rain coats. Maybe just swimsuits.

  2. What fun! I so enjoyed reading about your experience with your grandchildren in the rain and I look forward to your presentation at the Fairy Dust virtual conference.

    1. Thanks Sue. The Fairy Dusk presentation is all about playing with water as water and other states such as solid---think ice. Please let me know what you think.

  3. "Get All New, Instant Intelligence-Just Add Water!"
    What absolutely, above average children; no doubt about it Grandpa! I occasionally joke with the Kindergarteners that if I water them like plants they will grow...this post proves my point!

    1. The play outside in the rain was brilliant. We just kept trying things not really knowing what would work. You think my grandchildren will want to play in the rain again?

  4. I really enjoyed your fairydust presentation, and found my way to your blog! Your grandchildren are very lucky to have a grandpa who encourages this free type of play. Thank you for sharing it.

    1. Thanks Sharon. I always think I am the lucky one. Let me know if you ever have any questions.