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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, March 24, 2018

Tubes embedded in a big box

Over fifteen years ago, I put together an apparatus using an large box and two cardboard tubes.  One tube was longer but not as wide as the other.  I cut a window of sorts in the longer tube so the children could see the sand rush down the tube midstream.   Both tubes emptied into the tub next to the sand table.

I embedded the two cardboard tubes at different angles.   I made the incline greater for the longer tube on the left and not as great for the wider tube on the right.   The tube on the left was steep enough so the children could easily pour directly down the tube.  I modified the tube on the right by cutting a piece away from the top.  Otherwise, the children would have had a harder time pouring sand down the hole.
I created one more feature for this apparatus.  I cut part of the back panel of the box to create a space underneath and inside the box.

For the children, this apparatus provided the opportunity for them to move the sand from the sensory table out of the sensory table to a tub set next to the end of the table.  That was important because---as stated in axiom #1 on the right---children need transport what is in the table out of the table. 
The tubes gave them a constructive way to do what they needed to do.

Besides all the action up top, there was also a commensurate amount of action on the bottom.  Interestingly, the children at the bottom could not see when someone poured something down the tube because the box itself obstructed their view.  As a consequence, they were often surprised when something shot out of the tube. 
Over time, however, the children learned to use their sense of hearing to know when something was coming down the tubes.

Of course, a child could always try to peek.
I kept the apparatus up for two weeks.  However, I did make a couple of small changes for the second week.  First, I took out the sand and replaced it with whole kernel feed corn. 
Second, I cut holes on both sides of the box to install a planter tray.  That added another level for the children's operations that was partially inside the box and partially outside the box.

Over the course of two weeks, the children had two separate experiences using the same apparatus.  Corn streaming down the tubes was much different than sand streaming down the tubes.  The corn had a different smell; it was lighter, faster and noisier; and it was bouncier than the sand.   In essence, the children had an opportunity to compare the characteristics of two different mediums through the same apparatus. 

That sound likes science.

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