Every one to two weeks our classroom sensory table filler and theme changes
to provide a new and exciting sensory discovery experience.
With it being the beginning of the school year, our classroom sensory table filler and theme is being changed for the first time. For the first two to three weeks of the school year the filler is large colored pasta in various shapes, that provides a simple sensory experience and easy clean up. While my scholars are learning the sensory table routine, they are being taught how to take responsibility in cleaning up any mess they have made. They enjoy the clean up process, using children sized tools provided in the bucket under the table, so some spills are not necessarily an accident.
The key to a great sensory table filler is not the complexity or the cost, but the experience. I try to change up the filler and the tools to provide an entirely new experience each time, or not immediately repeating a similar experience until later in the school year.
The Magnetic Alphabet Sensory Table provides an open-ended experience, along with the ability to engage the students in multiple academic activities that include literacy and science.
Magnet wands are provided to collect the magnetic alphabet letters and match them to the chart on the magnetic whiteboard on the wall above the table.
The simple magnetic letter activity provides one-to-one correspondence and fine motor skill development. It also presents exploration of magnetic and non magnetic materials. The sensory table consists of alphabet magnets, magnetic wands, letter beads, magnetic counting chips, funnels, scoops and colored alphabet pasta filler. You can find the wonderful alphabet chart printable from The Intentional Momma, via Teachers Pay Teachers, HERE.
Additional tools and manipulatives provide activities with a broader range for students with different skill levels.
Optional tools can also lend to an entirely new sensory experience each time the same child goes back to explore. On most occasions, new or additional tools are added on the second week to invite the same children back again. To add to the experience, magnetic counting chips were buried in the filler to surprise the explorers.
Multi-colored, non magnetic alphabet beads were buried in the filler as well. The optional tools provided were mini collapsible funnels and sand scoops. The sand scoops came from a chidren's beach set, purchased from the dollar store during their summer inventory.
Although this sensory table has been made for a large container, smaller versions can easily be made by simply reducing the amount of filler. The alphabet pasta, used as the filler for this table, was dyed with liquid watercolor. Pasta can also be dyed with liquid food coloring. Nothing more was added to color the pasta. I've found that less ingredients are always better, especially if children will be handling it. A simple small squirt inside a ziplock bag, filled with the desired amount of pasta is all it takes. Then shake, shake, shake - it gives your arms a great little workout. Spread it out onto a baking sheet or foil and wait for it to dry completely before using. The pasta I used only takes a couple of hours to dry at the most.
My preferred liquid watercolor is by Colorations and goes a very long way. The alphabet pasta I used was difficult to find in our local grocery stores, since its quite popular. I ended up purchasing it online and was excited to find it in bulk. I've provided links below to the supplies I used.
My Amazon Picks, to complete The Magnetic Alphabet Sensory Table: