There are endless possibilities to make sensory tables, and they can relate to almost any subject. Best of all, you can make them using many of the materials you have in your art area or kitchen! We love to create sensory activities for all ages in the Jellybean Park Early Learning Centres. When we recently taught our 2 year olds about Sea Turtles, we set up a sensory table that created a play-scape and hands on experience for this theme.

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Our Prodigy Program (http://jellybeanpark.com/benefits/prodigy-child-program/) at Jellybean Park, puts a strong focus on using the different senses: sight, touch, taste, hearing and smell to teach young children. Our Infant and Toddler Programs (http://jellybeanpark.com/programs/langley-campus-daycare-langley/infant-and-toddler-care/), are especially developed keeping sensory learning in mind, as the children in this age group use all of these senses to discover their environment and tobe active learners.

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Shannon Lockhart details the importance of sensory experience and ‘active learning’, “…the process by which they explore the world either through: observing, listening, touching, reaching, grasping, mouthing, letting go, moving their bodies, smelling, tasting, or making things happen with objects around them”, in the article Even the Youngest Children Actively Engage the World Around Them (http://www.highscope.org/file/NewsandInformation/ReSourceReprints/Spring2011/AL%20for%20IT_72.pdf).

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We have found that building on information taught in circles with a sensory activity is especially effective for infants and toddlers, because it gives them a tangible experience to connect to the new information and an opportunity to use new vocabulary.

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Sea Turtle Sensory Table

Materials:
• Cooked Spaghetti
• Washable Water Colour Paint in Green and Blue
• Glitter
• Blue Jello
• Water
• Sea Turtles and other Under the Sea Figurines
• Scoops and Cups

This sensory table used several different textures and water to create an engaging activity for the children. First we cooked the spaghetti and mixed it with green washable water colour paint to make squishy seaweed! (Tip: we find washable water colours don’t stain children’s hands or clothes like food colouring does)We also pre-made blue Jell-o and set it in a bowl.
When it was time for set-up put in the middle of the sensory table as a platform for our sea turtle (Also, the Blue Raspberry Jell-o smelt great!), added our spaghetti seaweed, and then poured our blue sparkly water (made with blue washable water colours and glitter), and placed our sea critters in with scoops and cups.
Some of the children were quick to dive into the sensory play and squish and scoop up the spaghetti seaweed, feel the Jell-o, and name the different objects. While others were more timid and observed before venturing closer to tentatively touch the spaghetti or feel around in the water.

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“In the course of their explorations with people and things ‘beyond the blanket,’ they rely on parents and caregivers to attend to, support, and build on their actions, choices, and ways of communicating” – Shannon Lockhart

Our teachers supported the children whichever way they approached the activity, providing support and building on information as the children asked questions.

All of our kids loved diving into the activity and the sensory table was brought our several times throughout the day, allowing for the children to build on narratives and further explore the material.
Try this or a variation at home and let us know what you think!

 

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