Our year-long science unit is All About The Human Body
and one of the lessons is on our five senses.
I like to separate the five senses lesson and give my students the opportunity to learn about each of the five senses as stand-alone lessons. There is so much to discover about each of our senses and the sense of sight is one of my favorites to teach. Children are so drawn to bright colors and enjoy searching for items. This sensory table is a fantastic setting to teach about the sense of sight.
As mentioned in my post on The Magnetic Alphabet Sensory Table, I like to give my students very different sensory experiences for each table, through the use of varied table fillers. For the next two weeks my students are enjoying the texture, sound and movement of cut straws. I can tell you from experience that cut straws are very soothing to run hands through and sounds similar to falling rain - almost like a rain stick.
The straws are all plastic, but some are jumbo sized. The smaller diameter straws can be easily slid into the larger ones. I cut straws in various lengths and left the accordion sections intact to add an additional sensory experience.
The hunt for brightly colored trinkets at this scale
is a great companion to I Spy bottles, or can be used in place of them.
I purchased a set of 50 large trinkets from a shop on Etsy. The sets are listed for educational use and for sensory tables or bottles. The seller made sure each of the items were different. I collected a few of my own trinkets to add, making a total of 90 for our sensory experience.
I separated the trinkets into groups of three and took pictures of each group for the cards. A group of three on a card is a nice amount for children ages 3-5 to search for, without frustrating or overwhelming them.
After printing and gluing the individual cards to Astrobrights cardstock (utilizing BOTH sides of the cardstock card), I laminated each finished card for durability.
To include an optional fine motor approach to sensory play,
small tweezers and buckets were added.
I find it very important to add in fine motor where I can, throughout all of the centers. Scoops could also be added, but I like to wait until the second week into the sensory experience to supplement or switch out the tools.
A plus to this sensory experience is the ease of clean up. Everything in the sensory table is easy to disinfect and can be used many times over.
Its important to leave the sensory discovery experience open-ended, but provide students with optional ways to use the materials.
Students may or may not use the tools or the cards during their discovery. One student might find running their hands through the filler is the sensory experience they need, while another student could discover a trinket and use their incredible imagination to think up a whole new world among the straws. That is the powerful open-ended sensory experience that young children need. No matter which way each child may use the sensory table, they are still being engaged with their sense of sight - following the lesson.
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