Over the last year or so, I have become intrigued with sensory play. When I first began teaching, I thought sensory play had no place in a kindergarten classroom simply because I couldn't find where it would "fit" into our curriculum. Also, (I'm not going to lie) it scared me! The idea of giving my students freedom to explore with something that could potentially become very messy very quickly made my type A personality uneasy. However, I very quickly realized how much some of my kiddos NEEDED sensory experiences. The truth is, no matter how focused on curriculum we are required to be, most kindergarteners learn best through their senses.
If you're nervous to try out some sensory experiences like I was, here's why I urge you to give it a go.
My two favorite ways to incorporate sensory experiences into the classroom are through play doh and a sensory bin. If you're nervous to try the sensory bin, start out with some homemade play doh! It is super easy to make, and stores much better than regular play doh. I found this quick and easy recipe for homemade play doh and it is getting SO much use in my classroom!
I have two tips when making homemade play doh:
1. Use gloves. The first time I made play doh, I didn't use gloves, and my hands were stained for days. This time, I got smart, and bought a box of latex gloves. It was SO much easier!
2. It takes more food coloring than you think to get brightly colored play doh! I recommend starting with around 20 drops of food coloring and then adding as needed. You want your play doh to be bright and bold so that your kiddos are excited to use it!
I introduced play doh to my students with name mats. They were so excited to build their names and their friends' names! Now that they know the expectations and how to clean up, the play doh will be going into our word work station for them to build sight words. Make your very own play doh mats using this FREE template! (The font that I used is KG Primary Penmanship, and you can download it free for personal use here. Just adjust the font size if your students' names are longer than 4 letters!)
I also introduced the sensory bin this week. Like I said before, I was very nervous about the potential mess of a sensory bin. After doing a lot of reading on Marsha's blog, Differentiated Kindergarten, I decided to give it a go and I am SO happy that I did!
I introduced the sensory bin to my students using the color sorting cards from Marsha's All Year Long Sensory Table Bundle. This was the perfect activity because it gave them an objective other than playing, AND it was something that they could do independently. I had the sensory bin out during free choice center time and it was the most popular choice! Now, I am ready to put it into one of our guided math stations.
I chose to start my sensory bin with colored rice inside, but there are so many options for fillings. Tiffany from K Teacher Tiff shared on her blog this week how she colors pasta for her sensory bin. Marsha also has tons of filling ideas based on season on her blog. I learned how to color rice using the tutorial on her blog. It was a piece of cake!
If you decide to take the plunge into sensory activities (and I hope you do!), I hope that you find it as engaging and successful as I have!