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.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

The ledge-part one

I write almost exclusively about play and exploration at the sand and water table.  However, for this post, I will change things up a bit.  I would like to write about how children appropriated a rather unique space in the classroom.

My classroom was an old elementary classroom with a bank of windows for one wall.  Underneath the widows was a 12-14" ledge.  The ledge was designed to accommodate a blower unit and extra classroom shelves.

I purposely decided not to put anything on the ledge because I wanted the children to be able to see out.  Before long, though, the children appropriated the ledge for their play.  

The empty ledge became an invitation for the children to line up the animals or to drive the little cars.  This ledge was an intriguing space because it formed a long horizontal plane on which to play.  In addition, the space was at shoulder level so they could play standing up.


I still wanted the children, especially the toddlers, to be able to look out the window so I added a set of homemade green steps in front of the blower unit.

It was not long before the children appropriated the steps for their play.  It made a great platform to test their jumping skills or to make a home for a family.  Again, the steps offered an intriguing space with multiple levels. 

By providing the steps to look out the window, I also provided easy access to the ledge itself.
I must admit that I was not fully cognizant of this invitation.  However, once I realized what I had done, I had to make a decision: Was it OK for the children to climb on the ledge?  I decided, yes, it was OK.  

As a consequence, the ledge morphed into a place to build with the colored blocks in the window sill or to have a tea party with a friend.

The ledge became a place to hangout and read or to sit during our group story and song time.

One of the big surprises for the children and myself was blower that was part of the ledge.  Though it was the heating unit in the winter and would blow hot at times, most of the time it circulated the air in the room.  The children did learn to be careful when it was hot, but otherwise they found the blower offered plenty of opportunity for impromptu scientific experiments.  In the video below, the child took a scarf from the house area and placed it over the blower to see what would happen.

Here was another experiment some children tried.  They stood over the blower in their dress up clothes to feel and watch their dresses flutter in the air.

Once I made that decision that it was OK for the children to work, stand and play on the ledge, it became one of the most important play spaces in my classroom.   They experimented and explored the space; they conquered the space.  This became their space that they appropriated in ways that I could never have imagined. 

What decision would you have made?  In any case, this is just the beginning of how they appropriated the ledge for play.  Wait until you see part two.

1 comment:

  1. This is great, Tom!!! Children ask WHY questions all of the time!!! Educators must learn to ask them of themselves too...WHY often turns into WHY NOT when children are allowed to PLAY their way!!!