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
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.
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.