Many of the operations that the children used in their play and explorations of this apparatus looked simple at first glance. One child used a simple operation to fill his measuring cup. He reached inside the iMac box to scrape corn into his measuring cup. In the video below he repeats the operation three times and the third time, he reaches as far as he can into the box to collect his corn.
Collecting the corn with his hand from Thomas Bedard on Vimeo.
Why did he collect his corn that way? It would have been easier to scoop it directly from the sensory table. That is especially true when he had to contort his body to reach as far into the box as possible. Though the operation looked as if he was simply filling a container, there was a lot more going on than just scraping corn into a measuring cup. For instance, there was also some good trunk flexion and trunk extension as he bent over to reach the corn. Is that why he did it that way?
Another child filled a black bowl and then poured the corn into one of the top holes of the apparatus. He collected corn from the table in his bowl. He filled it as full as he could. Since he did not want to spill, his whole operation was done slowly and carefully. Even when he poured the corn from his bowl into the box, he made an effort to create a measured flow instead of just dumping it in the hole.
Pouring the corn from Thomas Bedard on Vimeo.
Though this was essentially a simple filling and pouring operation, again, there was a lot more going on. For instance, to complete his task, he had to use a good deal of balance and eye-to-hand coordination. I would go so far as to say that there was a zen-like quality to his operation, especially as he focused on the corn from his bowl hitting the bottom of the box. Why did his filling and pouring take such a form?
Without a deep curiosity about what children do and why they do it, we never see past the simple operations of filling and pouring. Without that deep curiosity, we often forget to ask questions that help us understand where these operations originate and why they take different forms. I am not saying that we can know, but without an effort to take the children's perspective, we are limited in understanding what the children are truly experiencing.
Why does this child lie on the floor over the stool to look in the hole of the apparatus? What does she see? What does she hear? What does she smell? What does she feel physically and emotionally?