When I first started teaching at Woodland Park one of my initial disappointments with our facility was that we didn't have an acoustic tile ceiling, the kind that lends itself to easily hanging things from it, so I installed several hooks instead. It was a real project because after only a few inches I hit concrete and I don't own a drill that can penetrate that, but still, I've managed to get a few in there securely enough that they have held things like our balloon cage, compliment chain and giant pendulums for 8 years. My primary motivation in installing the hooks, however, was to play with pulleys.
On Tuesday, our Pre-K class was experimenting with hoisting buckets and baskets of devil duckies up to the ceiling when they started talking about how much fun it would be to add pulleys to the "castle," which is what they call the beach hut. This was one of those magic moments when their agenda and mine dovetailed so we took our pulley collection and ropes out to our construction/tinkering area yesterday. Since I'd had so much success on Monday with the technique of just giving a couple parents a general idea of what I had in mind, then leaving them alone with the kids to create our water wall, I thought I'd try the same concept with pulleys.
Dennis' dad Terry, Katherine and Lachlan's mom Kimberly, and Max's mom Callie formed an amazing teaching team.
The first installation was to get a pulley system on the "castle."
I love the bent nail construction technique.
Thomas climbed the step ladder there on the left and the pulley system was
used to deliver a hand drill to him so that he could use bits of various sizes
to drill holes . . .
. . . He was particularly impressed with how easily our smallest bit ate
through the wood, creating a hole too small to show in this picture.
The larger hole, the one you can see, took a lot more effort.
The castle pulleys remained a two man operation yesterday, but today I'm going to teach them how to make it work without help, by tying off the rope so that it holds the basket at the topmost point while they climb the ladder to retrieve their tools, paint, or whatever needs to be up there. Thomas is confident that the advent of these pulleys is the secret to ultimately adding a second story to the castle.
Our second pulley was installed on our magnolia tree over the sand pit.
In the morning, I'd installed a staircase next to our water wall so that adults wouldn't have to be available to steady the step ladder we'd used on Monday. This staircase was built by my father, an engineer, at least 30 years ago as part of a bed he built for my younger sister. It has been in our yard for the past decade and is still rock solid.
The kids used this pulley to hoist buckets of water to their friends waiting on the top step, who would then pour it out into the funnel at the top of the water wall.
There were other pulley installations, but the last one I documented was the one that created a conveyor system that ran between another branch of the magnolia and our maple.
The kids had fun filing the bucket with water, pulling it to one end and letting it go. Since the top rope is more or less parallel to the ground, however, the bucket tended to stop in the middle. I think I'll try to re-install it today with a little more of an angle.
During our circle time at the end of the day, we were discussing our pulley play. Thomas raised his hand and proudly informed us, "Pulleys are simple machines." Now we all know.