Get a sensory table they said, it will be fun they said....
Actually it is A LOT of fun having a sensory table, regardless of the "mess" and I quote mess, because this is the adult's interpretation of what the environment looks like when children play. . I prefer to call it "evidence of play" however in this story, I will call it a mess. Ok, so let me tell you, having a sensory table be a lot- mess wise, mentally and physically. Let's back it up... in February I had beans in the table, messy, messy, messy, then in April I put rice in there.. MESSY MESSY MESSIER!! ..... Rice was EVERYWHERE, I swear there was rice in my pants, socks and shirt at the end of the day! Even though I have mini brooms out and I help sweep up when the opportunity arises. I try not to clean while the children are playing, unless I am invited to help clean or a suggestion has been made that I help them clean, as it sends a negative message that they are being too messy and they do not need this on their conscience as they are playing... Anyways, rice... it gets everywhere and you find rice months and months after the table has been changed to something else. On this pom pom throwing day S was tidying up the pom poms and she said, "Oh look I found some rice!!" hahaha
Most of the time the mess comes from the children scooping up the rice and putting it in containers on the side of the table or other objects from the table as seen below and subsequently the containers getting too full and spilling, or you have children that will take cupfuls of rice or beans or whatever and purposely dump the contents on the ground. While this can be extremely frustrating for the adult, for the child this is learning. Dumping, pouring, throwing, dropping, rolling is a type of Play Schema called trajectory- Interest in moving objects by throwing, dropping, or rolling. May include the trajectory of own body by jumping off things or bumping into things. Interacting with things that are already moving, for example putting hands under running water.....
As you can see from the photo below, there is a child cleaning up without prompting, she took it upon herself to start tidying up.
In child development, Swiss Psychologist Jean Piaget (1952) defined schema as: “a cohesive, repeatable action sequence possessing component actions that are tightly interconnected and governed by a core meaning.”
History of Schemas of Play:
Jean Piaget was one of the first to use the term “schema” or “schemata” in 1923. Piaget was one of the most important child development Theorists and his Theory of Cognitive Development was and still is incredibly influential.
He was one of the first who believed children think differently than adults and that they have an innate desire to learn, and do so by constantly taking in information from the world around them.
A major piece of his Theory of Cognitive Development was schemata. He theorized that children have three schemata: Symbolic Schemata, Operational Schemata, and Behavioral Schemata.
So what are they learning by dumping and pouring? They are learning cause and effect, gross motor skills, visual tracking, body awareness, observing, and predicting.
Here's the nitty gritty and I'm going to be brutally honest. Your child is constantly learning through every moment in their lives, regardless! Children learn best through uninterrupted and unstructured play and large time blocks without transitions!!!! Oh and not telling them no tot make a mess!
Children do not need to sit down in desks filling out stupid workshits, sitting criss cross 'give me a freaking break' applesauce in stupid circle time being quiet and JUST listening and watching the adult perform for the children. I am not a performer or an entertainer, I am a facilitator in a child's learning through play experiences providing a loving, caring, accepting, honest relationships where the children can feel honored and trusted to be free and play and learn in an environment that welcomes MESS! Let them spill the beans or rice, and if you are tired of the mess, put something in the table that's less messy but FUN like I did. HONESTLY, the rice was getting to be a bit much for me, so I did decide to swap it out with pompoms which is much easier for cleaning up and let me tell you, more fun to throw around the room!!!!
And what could be better in life then frolicking in the pom poms as they are splattered all over the floor??
In the end, I gave them all buckets and said, "Let's see who can fill their bucket to the top." And guess what, they did, they cleaned it all up, and believe it or not, it did not become a competition. They would each fill up each other's buckets!
There is so much rich and authentic learning when you step back and let the children do their own thing and put aside the fear of them making a mess!
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Angela Roy, Early Childhood Educator
My family moved to Lake Country in November 2021. After 9 years of operating my preschool from downtown Kelowna, I opened up my preschool from my home in February 2022.
I will often post on my preschool Facebook page stories about my preschool and things we are doing etc. But then I decided I should utilize my webpage and start writing on here. I am in no means a professional writer, but wanted to give it a shot. There may be grammar and spelling mistakes, and I’m ok with that (please do not shame me for this!)
This is me, in the moment and sharing a part of my life alongside my preschool program. Feel free to comment and share your words with me if you choose. Happy reading ✨