Monday, October 11, 2010

There's No Stopping The Cast Iron Pump

Not a day goes by that our cast iron pump doesn't get used, and typically it gets used a lot. It's finally found a permanent home in the corner of our sandpit and the kids really like having a length of gutter there for getting the water flowing. When I move it, they always put it back.

The older kids have lately been into using sticks and banked sand to make dams, which they call "beaver houses."

But most exciting seems to be when they create "chocolate milk," which is what they call it when they manage to get that frothy film on top of their standing water. "Chocolate milk! Chocolate milk! Look, Teacher Tom, we made chocolate milk!" Being a sand pit, however, it isn't long before it all drains into the ground unless someone keeps pumping -- and someone very often does.

I've been particularly impressed with how the 2-year-olds have taken on the challenge of the pump, many of them just meeting up with it during these past few weeks. Being a real machine, kept out in the elements, it's not always easy to use, especially getting it going each morning, and it typically takes two hands and a full body pumping motion even when everything is sufficiently lubricated.

It's a lot work for their smaller bodies, which is why they rarely achieve the standing water state, but that's okay. They have discovered their own games, one of which involves shoveling sand into the gutter, then watching the water wash it away.

And they have also really taken to the water wall that the kids made at the end of the last school year. I've had it stored away for a time. In fact, I'd been planning to remove the various funnels and tubes and turn over the peg board and frame as a blank slate for this year's class to make their own version. And I probably will still do that, but for now the 2's are getting a kick out of filling their containers at the pump, taking their turn on the "stairway to nowhere," and watching their water flow through the water wall. It's a wonderful full-body science and social experience, one that requires a lot of concentration, coordination, cooperation.

This flight of stairs was built a good 30 years ago by my
father. It was originally designed for my younger sister to
climb into the raised bed he'd build for her, but has spent
the last ten years as the way my own daughter accessed the
zip line we had in our yard. Dad's an engineer and he built
those stairs to last. They're still as solid as ever.

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Shelly said...

Last Monday they were calling the white froth "buttermilk". Charlie told me all about buttermilk, which I thought was funny since I can't remember ever having buttermilk in our house! The whole way home from school today I thought about your water pump for fountains idea - I think it is great!

miss merril said...

I'm an avid Teacher Tom reader and just wanted to say thank you for another fun, messy, and inspiring post!

Marla McLean, Atelierista said...

I know it's wrong,
but I covet your iron pump and gutters.
I'm working on allies to get one at my school. It's a shame so many folks don't like mud... frown.

Ms. Erin's HeartRoom said...

we just got one recently thanks to my dad! I'm still in the process of gathering documentation for my blog post about it! water pumps are the best, every center should have one!

Barbara Zaborowski said...

I was planning on getting a water pump for my center, but one of my directors asked about getting fingers pinched. Has that ever happened with yours?

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