Looking through an old filebox of pictures that I took before I had a digital camera, I found a couple pictures of an apparatus I built over 30 years ago. The apparatus was made from half-gallon milk containers that were taped together with duct tape in a kind of C shape. The apparatus sat directly on the floor and was filled with sand.
In other words, she was faced with a unique proprioceptive challenge to navigate her hand and wrist and arm through the hole and under the strip and back out again.
Because I was using a film camera, I only have two pictures of children exploring this apparatus. Would I have taken more pictures with a digital program? Probably. When I was taking pictures back then, I was taking pictures solely to have a record of the things I built for the sensory area. After I got a digital camera, I continued to record the things I built.
Now it is only in hindsight that I can look at my documentation as a window into what is important for children in their play and explorations. Even from just two pictures, I can still highlight at least three different aspects about how children played at this apparatus. 1) Children were attracted to the holes. 2) They were comfortable playing on the floor. 3) They willingly engaged in physical challenges. Looking at two pictures from 30 years ago offer only small---albeit concrete---traces of our attempt to make sense of this apparatus. I do remember that I really delighted in the novelty of this apparatus and appreciated the level of engagement it supported. I also remember why I did not build it again: it was way too messy!
Can I examine these pictures from the standpoint of my own thinking? Where did the idea come from for this apparatus? Why did I configure it in a C shape? How did I expect the children to explore the apparatus? What surprised me about how the children explored the apparatus? My answer is simply "no." My sole purpose was to have a record of what I built. It was not to use the documentation to ask questions to advance my thinking and to advance children's thinking around sensory play. I will not bemoan the lost opportunities, but be glad for the traces I do have.