Last year, I built a platform out of PVC pipe and a black plastic sheet. I drilled holes in the sheet and then attached it to the PVC frame. I used it as an Oobleck Platform.
This year, I re-purposed the platform. After placing it in the table and making sure it was secure by taping it to PVC pipes that span the width of the table, I taped flexible gutter extender tubes to the frame and the table. (Gutter extenders are used at the ends of gutters to carry water further away from a building. They are flexible and expand. I will just call them gutter tubes or tubes for the duration of this post.)
I offer you a short video of one child as he first approaches this apparatus. As he walks around, he turns to me to ask where does the water go and where does it comes out. As you watch the video, you will see that he actually knows and knows how to figure it out.
Checking it out from Thomas Bedard on Vimeo.
Couldn't you just see the wheels turning in his head? As he examined the apparatus, you could see and hear him form theories---with his eyes, his hands and his whole body.
The combination of platform and gutter tubes really makes for an interesting contraption that the children know how to exploit to the fullest.
One of the features of the platform is that it creates a comfortable space above the table on which the children can work much like how we as adults work on a kitchen counter or workbench.
Another nice feature of the platform is that when water is poured over the top, it looks, feels and sounds like rain.
Rain from Thomas Bedard on Vimeo.
It is telling that the child reaches under to feel the "rain" as it slows down.
As you can see, water was put in the table; dish soap was added to the water. The gutter tubes have many pleats. Not only do they allow the tube to expand, but these pleats also agitate the soapy water flowing through it creating suds, glorious suds.
One of the most common operations the children do as they pour water into the tube is to constantly check the level of the sudsy water---on both ends.
The fun really begins when they start filling the tube to the max. Since the tube is flexible, the weight of the water naturally distends the tube in the middle so it dips down into the blue table. When the water fills the tube to capacity, suds come out both ends and eventually the water drains out of the lower end of the tube. Watch the "Wow" moment as this happens.
Let's do that again from Thomas Bedard on Vimeo.
Now that was fun. And think about what these two children are experiencing in terms of agency and mutual collaboration it what can clearly be seen as a self-directed science experiment. How in the world can you measure that? Why in the world would you want to? The best evaluation is the one beautifully given by the child at the end when she says: "Let's do that again."
This is a blog for early childhood teachers looking for ways to expand and enrich play and learning in and around their sand and water tables with easy-to-make, low-cost apparatus. It may also be of interest for anyone who appreciates children's messy play.
- Tom Bedard
- 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 23, 2014
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