I was on my way to Colorado to have dinner with some family child care providers about a pilot project that Wildwood CACFP is launching. Cozy in my seat, I pulled out my Child Care Exchange January/February 2016 issue to read on the flight out there. I came across a life changing article.
Now, you might think that is overreaching and while exaggeration might be something I am well known for with close friends and family, this is not one of those times. The articles about Differentiation, Inclusion, Teaching Math and supporting Immigrant Women in Becoming Business Owners are eye opening and make me want to talk - a lot. However, the life changing one was in the Learning Through Play section - "Levels, Spaces, and Holes at the Sensory Table."
Let me start by telling you that I have two young children - an 18 month old and a 3 1/2 year old. A messy house is a given. Messy sensory play is a guarantee - like the messiest sensory play ever. For example, we made some ooblek to experience and while it was a blast and the kids were so so happy - the clean up afterward was a task to be reckoned with. Both kids just wanted to move it from the bowl it was in to the table, the floor, their arm or any place other than the bowl it originated from.
Fast forward to arriving home from my trip - after reading this article by Thomas Bedard about sensory table play. This article provides a number of examples for how to create sensory table play spaces using levels, spaces, holes, and incline, horizontal and vertical orientations. It starts out, though, with his story of a bucket and how this bucket changed how he approached setting up sensory play. This bucket showed him how children have an in instinct to transport so if you have a sand box or a sensory table full of oatmeal they will take the sand from the box and put it on the floor and same with the oatmeal. WELL - as Mr. Bedard tells us, if you have a bucket or other container/tool/mechanism for them to transfer the material into - chances are the children will put the material where you guide them too.
How has this changed my life? When I returned home from my trip, my daughter and I decided it was time to pick the oranges from our orange tree. Now she is old enough to follow directions and not work against me but my son, I knew, was going to want to take the oranges out of the bins as soon as we started. But then I thought of the article I read in exchange and ran and got some plastic bags for my son to take the oranges out of the bins and put in the bags. He did it - the whole time. He just took the oranges from one place to the other - but always in the bins or bags. Now, I look at things differently - always trying to see how I could help guide them to transport productively (and not make even bigger messes or undo work we are trying to do together).
What are some solutions you use for the inherent desire to transport? The neat sensory tables that Thomas Bedard has put together with cardboard boxes and duct tape are fascinating there are pictures and explanations through the article.
Bedard, Thomas. Levels, Spaces, and Holes. Exchange. Vol 38:1, No. 227. January/February 2016.