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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.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

How to pump with a hand pump

A few years ago, I added a hand held pump to the Duplo ramp.  There were basically two reasons for adding the pump: 1) because it invited one child to pump and one to direct the water being pumped, it connected children in play; and 2) because it connected children in play, it gave them agency in different ways to pump and different avenues for directing the water out of the hose.

To illustrate these two points, I offer the following videos.  In the first video, one child used her hands to pump the water from the white pail.  A second child directed the water from the pump into a plastic bottle.


Hand pump from Thomas Bedard on Vimeo.

This was a serious endeavor.  The child with the bottle somehow gauged that one more pump-worth of water would fill the bottle to overflowing and spill on the floor; he was forced to empty the bottle into the tub next to the water table.  On the other hand, the child with the pump kept on pumping making it imperative for the child with the hose to simultaneously empty his bottle and re-direct the water from the hose into the tub.  He was able to get the hose back in the bottle and stand up for another fill.  The child with the pump, though, had to find another way to pump because her right hand was too tired.  What does she do?  She switches hands.

In this second video, two children again filled the same plastic bottle.  However, this time the child with the bottle propped the bottle onto the Duplo ramp against some Duplo blocks.    The child with the pump, on the other hand, ended up trying a new strategy for pumping: he tried to pound the pump handle to make it work.


Hand pump pound from Thomas Bedard on Vimeo.

Because the child managing the bottle did not need to hold it with his left hand, which would have obstructed his view, and because he propped it approximately at eye level, he was able to observe more closely how the hose filled the bottle.  As for the child with the pump, his fatigue with pumping opened up another way to work the pump: pound the handle.  I find it interesting that he laughs the first two times he tries to pound the handle.  Maybe he simply acknowledged the surprise and novelty of pounding the handle to make it work.  He finally got down to business and began to pound in earnest.

In this third video, two children demonstrated another way to operate the pump and to direct the water coming out of the hose.  The child with the pump actually uses his tummy to complete the pumping action.  The child with the hose, on the other hand, blocks the end of the hose by placing it over one of the nubs of the Duplo ramp.


Hand pump using the tummy from Thomas Bedard on Vimeo.

Where did the idea of using his tummy to push come from?  Was he tired of using his hands to pump?  Did he think he could push with more force using his belly?  And where did the idea of putting the end of the hose over one of the nubs come from?  Did he know it was going to make the water spray out?  Of course once they knew they could make the water spray, they had to do it again and again

Though I focused on the connection and agency of the children as the explored the pump, I feel a need to champion the joy and laughter in each of the clips.  The joy and laughter must surely come from both the connection and agency the children feel as they discover the ordinary and surprising things they can do with the pump.  However, the children are not simply acting on the materials, on the structure or with each other.  They are inhabiting the space in a way that gives each episode its own texture, its own shape and its own rhythm.  Each joy is unique.  Each laughter is unique.  And they are all authentic.

1 comment:

  1. This looks like such fun! I wasn't sure what this type of pump was called or where to find it, but through the magic of Amazon, I learned it's called a siphon fuel transfer pump. You can find them here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0181EDCZ6/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B0181EDCZ6&linkCode=as2&tag=janedurh-20&linkId=9696b5fae19e0649230e22fae98db76c

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