This morning at the water table started out like many others. With the heat and humidity, I thought that I would fill the table with some cool water, a few turkey basters, a couple of cylinders for scooping and pouring. I also ran across the stack of plastic shot glasses that I bought at the dollar store to use for stacking on our light table. I thought they might make an excellent addition this morning.
Like most teachers, I was staging the environment for play, but at the same time I had ulterior motives. A few of the children really need more experiences working on their fine motor skills, and I thought that stacking the small cups and having the opportunity to fill the cups with the basters would be great learning fun. However.... Most of you who work with children on a regular basis know, you can have the best plans and environmental staging BUT really, you just never know what great explorations and learning will happen when you allow children the freedom to investigate and adequate time to explore!
Take today for example... I think the children filled maybe 3 of the glasses with water by using the basters.... Then, something magical happened.... One of the basters "broke" after one of the children pulled the bulb off.
After a couple of unsuccessful attempts by the child to put it back together, he gave up on the baster and put one of the shot glasses on the end of the bulb... He pushed it down hard, then he squeezed..... And BOOM! It sounded like a balloon popping! All of the other children came running...
"What was that?"
Instantaneous cooperative learning. Each child scaffolding for the next, sharing their own experiences and trying new out new options. I overheard a lot of questions, a lot of what ifs... and even some clear scientific explanations of why it worked the way it did...
"A water exploder"
"How do you do that?"
"You know, it is the air inside that makes it work. If you push down hard enough, then you push the air and it makes it go POP!"
Hours later.... Still exploring, how far can we make it shoot? What happens if you put all of the cups on one bulb? What If there is a crack in the cup? Does it go farther with or without water? How can we get it to make the biggest splash? How can we make a bigger noise? I wonder what happens if.....
And to think, we spent our whole morning JUST playing!