I’ve experimented before with “a table in the sandtable” to provide children with a work area to place and arrange materials. I’ve also created pegboard surfaces that children could use not only to arrange materials, but to experiment with the physics of sand as it pours through holes. I had always used a full length, rectangular sensory table for these experiences, so switching to a classroom with a smaller, square table presented new challenges for how to design a similar play apparatus.
The solution was a smaller wire storage shelf. This one had parallel lines across the top instead of a grid, and I wondered if the children would use it differently. For a pegboard top, I used a Lauri rubber pegboard, held on with pipe cleaners.
As with the longer closet shelf and pegboard, the children were quick to use it as a table to rest their materials.
Someone discovered that plastic animals balanced easily between the metal bars. Someone else watched with concentration while pouring sand carefully through the holes.
And then, someone tipped the shelf over, and the activity was completely transformed.
The table, slats, and holes were forgotten. Now, the interesting part was seeing what could hook over the sideways table leg, and it became a convenient place to hang small buckets of sand, which quickly turned into a place to feed the toy animals.
Until someone turned the table completely upside down, and discovered another use.
And once again, I was amazed by the limitless extent of the children’s explorations, their ability to use and transform objects, and the endless experimentation that can happen when we give them the freedom to use the objects in their own way.