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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, September 29, 2018

Mini trampolines - part two

Trampolines are made for jumping, right?  But even as children jump on the trampolines, their play naturally flows into other developmental domains.  In the video below, the children count as they jump.  In essence, they are playing with numbers as they jump.  Sometimes the counting matches the jumps and sometimes not.  Sometimes the counting is sequential and sometimes not.  In addition, they are managing their own turn-taking.  Two times, the first jumper starts to step onto the trampoline as another child who has not had a turn steps onto the trampoline at the same time.  And both times, without any hint of conflict, the first jumper steps back to give the new jumper a turn at jumping and counting.

Trampoline: jumping, counting, taking turns from Thomas Bedard on Vimeo.

This play is totally child-directed.  It is their idea to count.  Are they using the counting as a way to measure the length of their turn?   Think about this in contrast to a teacher counting to measure the length of a turn.  A teacher would count so each child would have the same amount of time on the trampoline.  For the children, it is the gestalt of counting and jumping with no concern about who jumps more.

The turn-taking is also child-directed.  Again, think about this in contrast to a teacher directing the turn-taking.  A teacher would line the children up in row so each child knows who comes next.  And there will be no butting in.  However, when children organically take turns with no adult interference or enforcement, the children get a real chance to self-regulate. 

In the children's eyes, the mini trampolines have an unlimited potential for play in other developmental domains.  For dramatic play, the children below use the trampoline along with a baby blanket from the housekeeping area to serve as a bed to advance their play scenario.

How about literacy?  Two children use the trampolines as platforms for writing.  I suppose they could sit, but why not get real comfortable while they write?

And here is a type of literacy which usually flies under the radar.  The child below is "reading" the picture taken the week before of some children trampoline running.   His understanding of the action in the picture offers an invitation for him to do the same.
I use this type of documentation in most areas of my classroom because I like to show what the children actually do in any given area.  Often, I do not use words, but let the pictures talk to the children.

And sometimes, something extraordinary happens.  The child below has notices the little pictures inside the bigger picture.  She is reading pictures inside a picture!

Are trampolines made for jumping?  Yes, but for children they are so much more.  Children read space and materials differently than adults.  So often, adults read the space and materials with their head: I know that a trampoline is for jumping.  However, children read space and materials with their body and their head.  By using their body and head together to explore the space and materials, the children create a richness, that if appreciated, is mind-opening for adults.  More importantly, though, it is fulfilling the need for a body/mind connection as children inhabit and make sense of the world.

P.S. My last four posts have highlighted large muscle play in the classroom.  I have not forgotten about sand and water tables.  In fact, many of the dispositions informing play in both areas are the same.  If you are attending the NAEYC annual conference and would like to join a discussion about the need for children to move to learn in the classroom and outdoors, three of my colleagues and I will be holding a three-hour session on Wednesday morning at the conference.  It is entitled Teaching with the Body in Mind.  If you come, please come up and introduce yourself.


  1. These have been really helpful for me. I just created a large motor area under the loft with rings, a stretchy cloth swing, and a nest swing because I have a group of kinesthetic learners. I find that they can go there as a way to self regulate, then return to fine motor or other play in a more productive way. I'll start adding these picture stories to the area, too.

  2. Trampolines are fun. They have also been used by therapists to manage autism, adhd and speech delay