Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sensory Activities for Kinder

Hi there!  It's Mary from Mrs. Lirette's Learning Detectives.  I am thrilled to be guest posting today for my BBB {Best Blogging Buddy} Jeannie!
     I want to tell you about a few of my favorite sensory activities that I use in my classroom.  First of all, why use sensory activities?  Sensory experiences provide learners with opportunities for exploratory play.  These experiences promote inquiry-based learning, language and cognitive development, and social interaction.  We all know how important play is in an early childhood classroom.  The problem is finding time for it.  The good news is you can combine sensory experiences with your curriculum to create meaningful activities that your students will love.

At the beginning of the year, I love to incorporate my home-made Chicka Chicka Boom Boom tree into our literacy stations.  The tree itself is made from a 4-in PVC pipe, covered in burlap, that slides over a wood base (6-8-in long dowel rod, screwed into a piece of wood).  The top of the tree has fake palm tree leaves and coconuts that I picked up at a craft store.  The tree is covered in square Velcro dots and sits in a plastic storage tub.  The tub is filled with kid-friendly play sand that weighs down the base of the tree enough to keep it sturdy.  You can find several sets of Dollar Tree alphabet letters buried in the sand.  The letters have Velcro dots on their backs so that they can stick to the tree.  My students love to dig for the letters and retell Bill Martin Jr.'s story with the pieces.

What can this sensory activity reinforce?
  • retelling of the story
  • naming letters
  • alphabetically order
  • making words with the letters
You could also use numbers or shapes in place of the letters.  Of course, you do not have to have a tree for your students to take part in this activity.  Just a tub of sand with manipulatives would work just fine!

 Here is another favorite sensory tub I use in the spring.
I just fill the tub with organic dirt and throw in a few kid's gardening tools, plastic or biodegradable pots, and various sized seeds left over from our garden.  I also usually add in some of those plant marker cards and a few artificial flowers as well as some plastic insects.  If you wanted to, you could even add real worms to your tub!  My kids always have a blast digging in the dirt!  One year I put the top on the tub and left it sitting in the corner of my classroom over the weekend.  When we opened it up a few days later the kids were amazed to find the tub covered in green.  The moisture from the dirt and the heat from having the lid on had caused the seeds to sprout. Of course, everyone wanted to explore the tub again.  :)
     I like to make this graphic organizer available for my kids when they are exploring tubs like the one above.  Sometimes I run off a class set for my kids to fill out and glue into their journals.  Other times I just have a small group set available (laminated) and my kids use dry-erase markers to fill them out while at the station. Click on the picture to download.
     A few last sensory favorites for the classroom include the use of playdoh, cooked noodles, and shaving cream (the cheap kind works great).  These items are perfect for letter and number formation, spelling practice, visual representation of quantities, etc.  Playdoh is a staple in my word work station and my kids always squeal with excitement when they see a bowl of noodles or me pulling the shaving cream out of the cabinet.  :)
 I sure hope I have given you some ideas for incorporating sensory activities into your classroom.  I'd love for you to share your own experiences with sensory exploration.  Feel free to leave a comment below or stop by my blog and say hi.  Thanks to Jeannie for letting me share with you today! :)


 Mary Lirette loves to create and share ideas for the K-2 classroom. 

8 comments:

  1. Love your chica tree!!
    Blessings,

    Jessica Stanford
    Mrs. Stanford's Class
    I could use your help! Check out my latest post ♥

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  2. These are awesome sensory ideas - perfect for beginining kindergarten - thank you.....:0)

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  3. I love love love a sensory sand table and love making it " academic" This is my kind of post Mary. It made me smile to know not everyone has abandoned their sandtable.
    Marsha
    http://www.differentiatedkindergarten.com

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  4. I love sensory activities and so do kids of all ages. A funny thing happened this year during our senses unit when almost all the kids were reminded of Play Doh as they were exploring the pumpkin spice sense jar. I discovered scenery activities via Counting Coconuts. It's a great blog.

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  5. I love the sensory table with a follow up page. I can't seem to get it to download. Google keeps giving me an error message. Any help you can provide would be most appreciated.
    I am going to also try and make a tree.
    THYordan@aol.com

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  6. Huh, it didn't download for me either. I will ask Mary to take a look - I'm sure she can fix it up! :0)

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  7. So sorry about the download! I've reset it so it should be working now! :)

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  8. Hi,
    that are interesting ideas. I will tell our kindergarten to try those things. I think the sensory activities will help all children to learn and feel in an easier way.

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