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.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023


A couple weeks ago, I wrote a post singing the praises of offering rocks for children's play and exploration at the sensory table.  You can find the link here.  Now let me sing the praises of offering sticks for children's play and exploration at the sensory table.

For me, the term sticks was a very broad category.  It included such things as bark, driftwood and sticks of various sizes, shapes, lengths and texture.

This display was just one example of items the children could choose from for their play in the sensory table.   This was more than a science table display; it was an invitation for the children to interact with these natural elements in their never ending quest to create.
This child balanced sticks over a bowl and then poured sand through the creation. Was this child recreating a camp fire?

This child got real creative by inserting a crooked stick into the hole of a tree knot to create a microphone. 

This child found a good size piece of bark to fashion it into a ramp for testing how rocks slid down.  That might sound simple, but in essence the child created a tool for her exploration.

Once I knew the children in my room and trusted them to use sticks more constructively than not, I introduced long sticks that I had collected on one of river walks along the Mississippi River.

These children decided to build "bridges" across the width of the table.  They then created a game in which they would place a bug on one of the sticks and then shake the stick so the bug would drop into the table.  (Believe it or not, there was absolutely no sword fighting with these sticks!)


I did say I had a broad definition of sticks.  In fact some of the sticks I offered the children were branches.

This child decided to take out all the branches from the sensory table and stack them on the floor.  I really felt like he was "working."  In any case, it fulfilled a need to transport coupled with the physical challenge of moving large pieces of wood. 

Again, I pushed the bounds of what constituted a stick by putting a stump and a tree trunk in the sensory table for the children to explore.

Speaking of transporting and physical challenges that children create for themselves, this child decided to move the trunk of the tree to roll it onto the stump.

If you want to read more about how I introduced sticks in the classroom and how the children made sense of those natural elements, check out this post and this post.

I knew that sticks were important for children.  Any time I would take a walk with children or my grandchildren, they would inevitably pick up sticks.  Since they were important for children, I made a point of bringing them inside creating a context in which the children found constructive ways to use them.

1 comment:

  1. I love this! I haven't known a child yet who hasn't brought a stick into the house, and yet it never occurred to me to put them in the sensory table. Why? Thanks for the inspiration!