About Me

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Early childhood education has been my life for over 40 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, March 10, 2013


I was walking through a big hardware store in January and saw some pegboard on sale.  I have never made anything with pegboard, but I was fascinated by all the uniform holes so evenly spaced.  The fascination turned into a desire to make something with the pegboard.  The result was a Pegboard Platform.

The Pegboard Platform consists of a piece of pegboard held up by four cardboard tubes that serve as legs. As you can see, the dimensions for the platform are slightly narrower than the sand table and half as long.  The tubes are cut so the pegboard rests nine inches above the lip of the table. Notchers are cut near the top of each tube so each corner of the pegboard fits inside.  The pegboard is sturdy enough that there is no need for support across its length or width.  There is also a hole cut in the bottom of each of the tubes so when children pour sand down the tubes---and they will---it has an outlet.
As you can see from the picture above, the tubes are duct taped to the sides of the table.  The pegboard corners, however, are not duct taped in place.  The notches are narrow enough so the corners fit in snugly.  To tell you the truth, I was a little surprised at how well this stayed up with a minimal amount of taping.

The Pegboard Platform transforms the sand table in at least three ways.  It provides a surface above the table on which the children can work.

It also creates a space under the platform for the children to explore.

(If you are very industrious, you can work both above the platform and below the platform at the same time.)

Finally, the tubes provide holes for the children to put things in.  The tubes make deep vertical holes that are an irresistible draw for children.

I do not use the word cool very much in this blog, but after setting up the apparatus and then pouring sand onto the pegboard, something really cool happened on three levels.  On the top level, the level of the pegboard, sand slowly sifted through the holes and left a pattern that we all thought looked like a waffle.  On the sand in the table, another pattern was formed consisting of little mounds of sands of differing heights.  Mirror patterns?

The third level of cool was the space under the pegboard.  What happened that was so cool in that space?  The pattern of the sand as it fell through the holes.

The children thought it looked like rain.  Did I say it was cool?

p.s.  Greg at Males in Early Childhood interviewed me via email and posted the interview.  We all like to tell our stories and Greg gave me a chance to tell a little bit of my story.  Thanks Greg. And while you're there, check out his other posts.  He is a dedicated early childhood teacher from Australia and cares deeply about children.


  1. Another awesome set up experience, and i think all your setups are cool!
    Heidi in mpls

  2. Tom, This is a great idea. Where do you get the cardboard tubes?

    1. Suz, I have never bought a cardboard tube. Parents have always donated them. They often tell me they were from a tube that held carpet from a carpet store. I am sorry I cannot be more definitive than that. Maybe another reader from the blog can help out.

    2. If you have a local newspaper printer, you can ask them for the core wound fiber tubs that their paper stock comes in on. they will probably still have newsprint paper on them but that’s just free scribble paper for the kids too..

    3. Thanks for the great resource idea. I bet the tubes are very sturdy.

  3. Thanks for the mention Tom. It was great to find out about someone who has inspired and influenced so many over the years.

    By the way, you never seem to be short of new and interesting ideas for your tables. Are the children your inspiration, your colleagues, or do you have an endless supply stored in your brain?

    Greg :)

    1. The inspirations come from many sources. Sometimes it is my observations of the children as they work with an apparatus that gives me an idea for another apparatus. Sometimes it is the size and shape of the box. Sometimes I don't even know. The pegboard apparatus came out of the blue when I was actually thinking about an apparatus I want to build using ropes. The framework on the right-hand column of this blog is how I think about building. Thanks for the question. I am almost out of ideas and will be shutting down the blog soon. April fools!

  4. Teach Tom you are truly an inspiration to us all. Thanks for all your hard work. You have given the school my children go to more amazing ideas..AWESOME