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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, February 17, 2018

Entry points for play

I was looking over my photos and videos from a water pump apparatus I set up a couple of years ago.  I wrote about it here and here.  I started to note all the entry points for play in this one apparatus. 

Kodo Kids has a pump works kit that I set up in my water table.  It comes with a pump that attaches to an aluminum tub.  It also includes various pipes and connectors.
There is no right or wrong way to put it together.  I set it up so the pipes traverse the length of my blue sensory table horizontally.  The end is supported by a crate so the water from the pump empties into the small, clear water table.  On top of the crate I inserted a large funnel.  To the large funnel, I attached a long, flexible tube so there would be a loop so the children could return the water to the pumping tub.

How many entry points for play did I find with this apparatus?  Too many to highlight in the post, but here are a few.  And maybe with a few surprises.

First and foremost, there is the pump.  When I take a closer look, I also see that a child has used part of the pump base over the aluminum tub as a platform to hold her bottle so she can work hands-free to fill it.  
Not only that, I can also see that a child has placed a funnel in one of the holes in that same base.   Instead of just pouring water into the tub, now the children use the funnel to direct the water through one of the base's holes.

To be clear, the pump turns out to be an entry point for play for more than one child at a time.  And now, the entry point becomes a lot more about cooperation and coordination of their movements to be successful at pumping.

A second entry point for play is the end of the pipe that empties into the small water table through the crate.  Below, a child is catching the water coming out of the pipe with an aluminum bowl.
When I take a closer look, I also see a child scooping water out of the small sensory table to fill the bottle he is holding in his left hand.  In addition, I see a green pail with water.  That pail expands and connects their play because these two children use it to empty their containers once they are filled.

To be clear again, the end of the pipe where the water comes out inside the crate can be an entry point for play for more than one child.  In the picture above, three children are using their bodies to negotiate taking turns to collect water.   There is actually no conflict even though there is no adult to line them up or encourage them to take turns.

A third entry point for play is the big funnel.   In the picture below, the child is figuring out where the water goes when he pours it into the red funnel.

To be clear yet again, the big red funnel can be an entry point for play for more than one child.  In the video below, three different children pour water into the big red funnel.  In addition, one child pours water into a blue funnel, a funnel he has placed into one of the top holes of the crate, thus creating his own entry point for play. 

Water and funnels from Thomas Bedard on Vimeo.

What I find interesting in this video is the flow of play around a couple of focal points that bring children together in such close proximity. 

Looking at the whole apparatus, one can see that there are multiple entry points for play along the expanse of the apparatus.

Now imagine the table without the water pump apparatus.  How many entry points for play would there be?  


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