After my morning presentation of a building framework, the participants had about an hour to start their building. Because we were working in the cafeteria and the tables we were working on were our lunch tables, they had to pack their unfinished contraptions into a corner during the lunch hour. After lunch, though, they could not wait to start building again.
Two builders who were worked side-by-side made two separate but similar incline constructions. Both used long narrow boxes on an incline. Both cut holes as windows so whoever played with the construction would get glimpses of the marbles or beads racing down the incline. They each set the boxes at an angle in a shoe box. They cut holes in the end of the shoe box so the marbles or beads crossed through the box into receptacle boxes that they fashioned from the lids of the shoe boxes. The two constructions looked the same, but were slightly different.
Two other builders were ingenious in their own right. Their idea was to make a ball cascade with pieces of gutter. To do that, they fashioned a two cardboard pieces to suspend and hold the top gutter in place above the bottom gutter so when the ball rolled down the top gutter, it would drop into the bottom gutter and go on its way out the box.
For someone to build in a workshop like this, they have to take a risk, an intellectual and emotional risk. The questions come fast and furious. How do we start? Oh, that doesn't work, so how do we modify it? What is your idea? How do we make it work? There are also physical risks involved, too. For instance, working with sharp tools carries its own risk.
Niki Buchan was the keynote for the conference. Niki is from Australia and does consulting around the world on outdoor learning for children and adults. Well, even Niki got into building. She created a rotating construction by making a cardboard washer between a cardboard base and a cardboard platform that held three small cardboard tubes.
In their play scenarios, children in early childhood settings recreate the work of adults. For the most part, however, that play is in the housekeeping area of the classroom. Because of the way this educator set up this apparatus in the sensory table, this child was able to represent in his play what he has seen his father do at work. He could be his father in play. How cool is that?