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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, August 26, 2017

Horizontal channels-toddler version

Thirty years ago when I was first employed by the a public school district to work in a family education program, I was hired as an infant/toddler teacher.  Within a few years when there were cutbacks in our program and we had to consolidate rooms, I was a teacher in a birth-to-five room.  I actually cut my "building-apparatus" teeth for the sensory table with these groups that had the youngest children.  When I moved to mixed-age groups (3 to 5's), I would sometimes still adapt an apparatus for the younger children in the infant/toddler room.  One of those adaptations was a yearly staple in my classroom called  horizontal channels.

Here is what the adaptation of this apparatus looked like for the infant/toddler room.

I first set a wooden board on top of the toddler sensory table to support the apparatus.  The board was longer than the table so the box I used fit nicely on top.

I used strips of cardboard to make walls for the channels.  I used a separate strip that was taped to each of those strips to hold the channels in place.

I attached a cardboard chute to the end of the channel apparatus.  So the chute would keep its shape, I used a cardboard strip taped across its width.

This is what the apparatus looked like from the side.  I set up the chute on one end of the channel apparatus to empty into a white washtub.  I had to adjust the washtub's height otherwise the tub would not rest on the floor.  I adjusted the height by taping a plastic tray underneath the washtub. 

In the picture below, the toddlers are working on three different levels.  They are working with cracked corn in the channels, on the chute and in the tub at the bottom of the chute. 

Why would I even entertain the idea of building apparatus at the sensory table for toddlers?   For the very same reason I built apparatus for the preschool children.  Interesting and intriguing spaces encourage unique types of play and exploration that fuel the fire for all subsequent learning.  Put another way, play and exploration is a generative process that nourishes more play and exploration, which are both vital staples for all children.

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