Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Pulley System

A few weeks ago, I walked outside with a group of preschoolers and EB, IR, and KO were standing at the top of the play structure. They were holding onto the jump rope and tied to the other end of the jump rope was a crate. EB noticed me and quickly exclaimed, "We're using a pulley system!"

Soon, GS climbed up to the top of the structure to see what was happening. When he saw the others holding onto the rope, he quickly walked over to it, grabbing hold of it to help pull it up.

Once they pulled the crate up to the wooden bars, GS reached inside of the crate to pull out pieces of wood that had been placed in the crate.

They lowered the crate slowly and SM came over to load more wood into the crate.

SM kept his hands on the crate as GS and IR helped pull the crate up. They then lowered it again and TB came over to help load more wood into the crate.

As the preschoolers at the top of the structure began pulling on the rope again, they noticed it was hard to pull and a couple of small pieces of wood fell out of the crate. Simultaneously, EB and KO exclaimed, "Too much! There's too much!"

SM helped take some of the wood out and the crate was pulled to the top of the structure again. Before lowering it, KO exclaimed, "Stand back! If we drop it, the wood will scatter!" 

Once the crate was lowered, EB yelled, "We need more wood!" They continued to have individuals help collect wood and then would pull the crate up to the top of the play structure. Once, the crate was dropped quickly by accident and a few preschoolers were nearby. After this happened, EB made sure the preschoolers knew when the crate was being lowered again, announcing, "We're lowering it! 

 While the preschoolers were taking turns lifting and lowering the crate, they were finding a balance as to the amount of wood that could safely be pulled up in the crate. This took a few times, but the preschoolers worked together cooperatively, figuring out what worked for those pulling the crate up and for those filling the crate with wood.

TLC then came over and added some wood while it was on the ground. He announced, "Now let it up again!"


I looked at the top of the structure and noticed EB and IR were using the wood at the top of the structure. IR told me that they were making beds so that they could stay at the Preschool House "all night." 

While IR and EB were working on stacking the wood, GS was continuing to work the pulley. He exclaimed, "Something's wrong with our pulley system. It's not coming up." EB quickly walked over to GS to help figure out what was going on. GS soon climbed down the structure and IR took over the top of the "pulley system."

She began to lower the crate and exclaimed, "TLC, I'm ready," wanting TLC to get more wood to place in the crate. He quickly went to gather wood and filled the crate up. IR and EB began pulling on the jump rope, when IR stated, "It's way too heavy." 
EB announced, "We need more people to pull!" 
SM heard EB and said, "Thanks" as he walked over the ladder and climbed to the top of the structure. 
EB announced again, "Everyone... SM, TLC, SC, JH, TB... we need your help!"
 TLC quickly responded, "I can help!"

Once IR and EB felt they had enough wood, they continued to work on stacking it at the top of the structure. They filled in the object cutouts as completely as possible, stacked wood up the sides of the structure and on top of the railing. They talked about how covering the holes made it warm so they could sleep there. Here are some pictures of their "house."




While EB and IR were finishing making their "house," SM, GS, and TLC continued using the pulley system, changing the location of it, but keeping the same pattern of collecting wood, placing wood in the crate, pulling it up, unloading the wood, and lowering the crate back down. 

 The pulley system became an amazing example of what I am going to call the "5 C's" of Preschoolers working together toward a common goal: COLLABORATION, COOPERATION, COORDINATION, COMMUNICATION, and CHANGE. Through Collaboration the preschoolers made the pulley and developed the "pulley system." After they figured out a good spot for the pulley system to operate, they worked Cooperatively to keep the system running safely, smoothly, and continuously. Through this Cooperative play, the preschoolers were able to Coordinate what worked best for everyone, Communicate when things were not going as planned, and made Changes as needed that worked for each person. This pattern of goal-oriented play can be seen often at the Preschool House and continues to get more complex as the preschoolers develop, explore, and become closer with each other. I am excited to see what they come up with next as we continue our journey at the Preschool House!


  1. I love this - what team work! The preschool house is gorgeous & so rustic - very jealous. I was put onto your blog by 'Clever Toddler Activities' on facebook. Looking forward to exploring it some more, Kierna

    1. Thank you! I have really enjoyed working with the Preschoolers and other teachers making the inside space and outside space, a place that reflects who we are and what the preschoolers are interested in. We love giving them simple items, because that is when they come up with things like the "pulley system." Watching how creative the preschoolers are and how their imaginations take sticks, rocks, and other simple items and turn them into thought-out intricate objects, beings, and equipment is truly magical and I feel very lucky to observe this every day. Thanks again for reading!