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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.

Saturday, August 2, 2014


I must apologize for the title of this post.  It is too wordy and not catchy and gives you absolutely no information as to where this post will go.  I am sorry. There I said it.   

Practitioners often ask me how often do I change the apparatus at the sensory table.  My answer is: every week.  Sometimes I will change the whole apparatus; sometimes I will use the same apparatus but change the medium; and sometimes I will add onto the apparatus that was in the table the previous week.  That is the case with the most recent apparatus.  Last week I wrote about Computer Box with Cardboard Tubes.  

I kept the same apparatus but added a long cardboard tube embedded horizontally through the bottom of the box. This new cardboard tube extended beyond the table on both ends to empty into tubs at each end. In addition, two flexible gutter extenders were embedded through the top of the box. The extenders exited on opposite sides of the box to empty into notches cut in the horizontal cardboard tube.

Here is another view that shows just one of the gutter tubes emptying into the horizontal cardboard tube.

The new gutter extenders added a bit of intrigue because the children want to see where the pellets go.  

One child went so far as to drape her body over the long cardboard tube to retrieve what she had dropped down the gutter extender tube.

And when I say drape, I mean drape.

Did I just hear a gasp?  Traveling and presenting through the UK in June, I did hear an audible gasp when I showed a picture of a child standing on the lip of the table.  I was made aware that they are required to do risk assessments for national health and safety regulations.  As I talked more with the practitioners, they made me realize that a risk assessment could be done on something like this apparatus for this particular action.  It would go something like this:  Is the structure strong enough to hold this child?  Yes.  Does the child have the physical acumen to pull this off? Yes.  Is the child being supervised to ensure her safety?  Yes.   

This is an extremely physical child who needs to and will create her own physical challenges.  If the curriculum truly allows for individualization, then there needs to be an opportunity for this child to explore this apparatus in her own way: physically.   

Sometimes there is a fine line between what a child can do and what she is allowed to do.   In this particular case, I was was making a moment-by-moment decision about this child's need to explore the apparatus physically and the necessity to keep her safe.  I am a professional and they pay me to make that decision. The final decision is clearly visible in the picture.  

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