While we may all have unique features on the outside,
we have identical component parts in the inside.
So far this school year, we've covered external body parts, skin, muscles and bones. As we venture deeper, our year-long human body unit takes us to our organs. While organs aren't actually dry, soft and fuzzy, this sensory table is sure to be engaging and very educational.
We have incredible, intricate, internal organ systems,
that can be difficult to understand at a very young age.
For several years, I had my eye on a felt board by Educational Insights. When I got around to purchasing it for my classroom, I was heartbroken that it was discontinued. I have yet to find another that had the same simple, labeled set-up. So, after months of searching, I decided to make my own that was as similar as I could get it to the one I lost due to procrastination.
However, I wanted to simplify it slightly, since I mainly focus on the five vital organs. To make it more preschool friendly, I permanently stitched a few of the organs and all of the labels to the felt board backing. I also permanently attached the trachea to the lungs, and the small to the large intestines.
Regular felt board pieces are quite flimsy, so I wanted to make my organs more durable by adding more layers. The only problem I ran into was the weight kept them from staying in place, on a vertical felt board. For those of you who use felt boards in the classroom, you know that velcro would destroy the felt, with the amount of handling pieces go through. I'm one who feels that if I'm going to put a lot of effort into making something, it's going to have to last a long time. So I had to search for another solution. To solve the problem, I sewed in large, flat earth magnet discs, in-between the two center layers. I also stitched the same type of earth magnets in between the large felt body and the black felt board. The magnets aren't bulky, and help to keep the organs secure, but also easily removable by small hands.
Out of the five vital organs, we focus a lot on our heart.
Down to the details, I made my organ felt board as similar, yet preschool friendly, as I could. I like to focus on the heart during the second week of our lessons on our organs, so the heart is the only interactive felt board piece, beyond matching. Although it's very simplified, it shows the ventricles, under a front flap.
Alternatives for my human organ felt board can found online, or simply printed.
There are many options available on Etsy, such as HERE and HERE. However, you would need to make it yourself, using their pattern. If you were looking for pre-made, the price tag can be very high, due to the amount of time it takes to hand sew something of this magnitude. I was able to find a pre-made set online, similar to mine, but its on the small side and would need labels: HERE.
If felt isn't the route you want to take, printing out human organ images, laminating them and adding a magnetic strip to the back can work just as well. It would also be just as engaging as the one I made.
The organ sensory table is very soft and calming.
As I mentioned in previous posts, I try to make my sensory tables very different experiences. This one is the softest and most fluffy of all the tables we'll have out this school year. My scholars like to simply run their hands through the filler. It has an incredible calming effect.
There are two types of filler for this table. I used chunky, bulky yarn, in three colors, cut into varied lengths. The second component is pom-poms in various sizes and colors. I tried to find colors of yarn and pom-poms that were similar to the muted colors of the organs.
This sensory table will only be out for one week. Its one of the very few that have a short time frame. Next week will be the sensory table on blood, since we focus a lot on our heart. Make sure to check back for that one!
These are my Amazon Picks for the Organ Sensory Table: