Learning Through Pendulum Play

Pendulum Play Happy ballIn our daily work with children we find such inspiration from the things that children find joy in.  This story, written by Andrea Parypa, RECE from the junior preschool classroom at our Peterborough Program is a beautiful example of how seemingly simple moments can be extended into rich learning.

Putting things into motion always thrills the children, especially when balls are involved.  When several of the children recalled some of our previous trajectory experiences with balls (throwing, kicking, rolling), I was intrigued and wanted to explore new ways of setting a ball in motion.  Remembering a favourite game of my past, tether ball, I created pendulums with balls and strings to hang from our arbour.


Over several days the children simply enjoyed setting the balls free.  They were excited as they anticipated how their different techniques might affect how the ball moved and in what direction it might travel next.  The pure joy and fun inspired by the often unpredictable movement of the ball through the air was evident on every child’s face.

Boys observing ballgirl pushing ball

As we played we discovered that the ball could…
Swing back and forth
Spin around and around
…go POP or up and down if pulled down to the ground and released
…go ZOOM across the room if pulled to great lengths

Interested to see how the children might illustrate these different movements of the ball on the string, we gathered together to recall our discoveries.  The children then set markers to paper to represent these actions through art.

Children drawing back and forth

As the children worked through this process many of them simultaneously chanted the actions they were drawing.  Others physically acted out the movement with their arms/hands or even their whole bodies before setting their markers to paper.  These techniques seemed to act as a way to channel their ideas from mind, to body, to paper.
swinging motion


Swinging was represented with lines that moved across the page and bended back in a continuous motion.


circular spinning


Continuous circular markings illustrated the spinning action of the ball on the pendulum.


Popping technique
The popping technique was depicted with dots as the children mimicked the up and down motion of the ball with their marker over the paper.



Lines were also used to relay the zooming action, however these lines often only traveled in one direction and were made with quick and concise hand movements.


Associate Executive Director Lorrie Baird adds, “We see children’s joyful play as learning, both for the children as well as for ourselves as educators.  Capturing these moments and extending them into our curriculum is an important part of our practice.   When we view children as capable and competent, it influences our work with them.

Andrea’s story really represents her value for collaboration and listening, and her strong view of children. The spirit of this experience brings to mind a quote from the educators of Reggio Emilia who have greatly inspired our work at Compass ELC.”

“We must not assess what the child knows,
  or knows how to do, but what he or she could do IF . . . 
  WE are the IF….”  

Educators of Reggio Emilia

To read previously posted Compass ELC Blogs, please click HERE.