Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Corks, Tongs, And Walls


Last month, I shared with you about a sensory table concept that was inspired by tomsensori's terrific blog Sand And Water Tables. Since then I've seen others follow his lead in creating multidimensional sensory scapes, such as my friend Jenny at Let The Children Play, who credits me for having pointed her in that direction. I love when these kinds of inspiration-imitation-improvement cycles get going. It's one of the things I enjoy most about blogging versus mere journaling.


I kept it simpler than last time, building just two walls with windows again using our notched blocks, then filling the table with cork. Fortunately, the Woodland Park community keeps us amply supplied with wine bottle corks for all kinds of purposes, like practicing with our hand saws. As for the ground cork you see here, I've had it for nearly a decade with no idea from whence it came. The supply is running low, however, and I'm contemplating the idea of just throwing corks in a blender, but ever since I burned out the motor (smoke literally poured out of it) of our classroom blender making some art project or another, no one has so far offered theirs up to me for the experiment . . . And I'm not offering mine either, so there you have it.


The idea was to give the kids some more practice with various types of tongs. We already use them for serving ourselves snacks, but tongs are a great fine motor building tool and one, like hammers and hand saws, that are a "just right" challenge for preschoolers.


We have a few different types of tongs, like the easier to use spring loaded number shown above, in varying lengths, and the "scissor-style" being used below. 



Whereas often our sensory table lends itself to right on the edge wild play or even dramatic play above and beyond the sensory experience, all last week it was a place of deep concentration and experimentation . . . 



. . . even if they were using the shovels instead of the tongs.


The walls most definitely did come into play, with lots of passing of things through the windows, and employing the sections for sorting . . .


. . . but as I found last time we build the walls, and what I really hadn't expected, was the fascination with the tops of the walls. A lot of that entailed dumping cups of ground cork on top and watching it fall, but this project of balancing corks atop the walls is really a very advanced challenge some of the kids took on for themselves.




I'm now thinking it's time for a sensory table "build" that is all tops and no windows. I'll keep you informed.


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7 comments:

woodshopcowboy.com said...

Tom -

I remember the wonder I had when my two year old first used chopsticks to pick up food. It was one of the highlights I've had from being a father. Your blog reminds me of his fascination with stacking anything on top of itself.

And thanks for the info on the notched blocks. I have a student building large and small block sets for my school, and I think I'll put an order for the notched blocks in.

--Mr. Patrick.

woodshopcowboy.com said...

Tom -

I remember the wonder I had when my two year old first used chopsticks to pick up food. It was one of the highlights I've had from being a father. Your blog reminds me of his fascination with stacking anything on top of itself.

And thanks for the info on the notched blocks. I have a student building large and small block sets for my school, and I think I'll put an order for the notched blocks in.

--Mr. Patrick.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you could use a coffee grinder to grind corks. You could keep the cork bisquits the kids cut and put them in a coffee grinder. I've always been fascinated by the hand-operated grinders- which would be great fun for kids... but even an electric coffee grinder could probably be used by kids with supervision.

tomsensori said...

I am not surprised they found the top. My experience is that they find all the spaces, even the ones we don't see. There is no need to get rid of the windows because they have ledges, too.

The circle you talk about is great. It is like the children in their play and work when each contributes an idea and the play and work changes and evolves.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tom,
I have been looking everywhere for ground cork- with no luck! Just wondering if you ever tried blending/grinding some?! And if so- how it went?
Thanks

Teacher Tom said...

No Anonymous, I haven't tried grinding it myself, although If I did, I think I'd try to find a Cuisinart at Goodwill or something . . . Maybe an old blender.

Evelyn said...

I wonder if an old fashioned hand turned meat grinder would work. Of course the children would need to be supervised by I would think they would love to turn the handle for you when grinding corks.

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