Small animals can be fascinating, entertaining and adorable.
Our Small Pet Sensory Table brings back so many memories of my own childhood. My brother and I had a few precious hamsters that gave my entire family VERY memorable moments. One memory in particular, was when my "Houdini" hamster escaped from her enclosure and enjoyed nearly a week on the lamb. After discovering she had somehow made a hiding place in the modular basement ceiling, my Father stayed up one night to listen for the pitter-patter of tiny feet atop the ceiling tiles. He was able to pop up the tile and capture her. They certainly have their own little personalities.
Pet bedding and fur are some of the textures this sensory experience provides.
Bringing live hamsters into the classroom as a class pet is one thing, but putting them in an open-ended sensory table certainly isn't safe or humane. So the next best thing was to bring in a similar experience with minimally stuffed, faux fur pom-poms instead. The other table contents are those that would actually be used to care for a small animal pet.
The table is set up as close to an actual small pet discovery experience as possible.
The main filler is pet bedding. There are several types of bedding available, from wood shavings to corn cob. For this years experience, I added recycled paper pet bedding. The one bag is enough for a very large sensory table, or three smaller tables. I save the remainder to use as a replacement for future sensory table set ups.
The hamster tubes came in a small pack of add-on tubes. Look for sales or coupons on small animal supplies. The food/water dishes were found on clearance at the pet store, but the dollar stores carry small pet sized dishes on occasion. The house came in a cage set that I already had for an annual Pre-K Pet Adoption Day extension activity, that I do with my Pre-K classes. Stay tuned for details on our Pre-K Pet Adoption Day, in the next blog post. The small toys can be found at the dollar store. I chose ones with bells, to give an additional auditory experience.
The faux fur pom-poms were purchased from a craft store, using a coupon. They were originally three inches and came in a set of two. The pom-poms were stuffed so solid that they were hard like a rock. In order to have them easily fit inside the hamster tubes and feel more like real animals, I snipped a tiny hole and removed most of the stuffing. Once it felt and fit the way I wanted, I hot-glued the little hole securely shut. The long fur covers the hole so well, its not noticable at all.
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