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Differentiated October Sensory Fun in Kindergarten

What do you get when you mix the most beautiful time of the year with a kindergarten classroom?  Sensory table fun!  I know many of you have told me that you are no longer allowed to have sensory tables in your classroom because they have been deemed .  . . ‘unacademic.’
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I swear I cringe every time I hear that.  Just the thought of little ones not being able to explore, play and manipulate all the amazing natural wonders of this time of the year by means of sensory work/play, is sad.  Sensory play is such an easy way to differentiate by interest and learning profile, that is only makes sense to use them especially in a kindergarten classroom.
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I will say, living in Northern Michigan holds a distinct advantage this time of year in terms of filling my sensory bins.  I currently have my largest one filled with acorns from my own home and small pumpkins from my teaching pal, Stacy’s family pumpkin patch.  (Thank you Geers Farm!)
 
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My kinders will be searching for beginning letter sound cards from my October Sensory Table Fun pack and sorting them.
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It’s a great activity that they can do independently and that’s completely aligned.  Imagine that?  Sensory play that is aligned to CCSS.  You betcha.

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And once that task is complete, they have task cards available that give them other ideas of things the can do with the items in the table.
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It is so great to be able to extend their experience at the sensory table by showing them different ways to use materials that they have available to them.
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They have the choice to do whatever they like once their initial activity, but I give them ideas to consider such as making patterns . . .
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 . . . or perhaps using the objects for nonstandard weighing of classroom objects.  As long as I make sure that my sensory drawers have weights, magnifying glasses, tongs, scoops and plenty of paper, I seldom have to worry about my students getting bored.  It’s probably one of the most, if not THEY most, favorite station to visit.
In another tub, my students are working on matching rhyming words.

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I wanted something a little festive for Halloween so I went ahead and colored some various pasta types with neon green, orange and as dark of purple as I could get.
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Pasta is always an easy and inexpensive filler and my kids never seem to tire of it.  It’s easy to manage and I love that I can use color to make it interesting each time I change out my themes.
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I color pasta by placing the noodles in a ziploc with a 1/4 cup of rubbing alcohol.  Add a good portion of dye (I prefer the neon dyes) and mix it up.  I let the dye sit in the bag with the noodles for a good 30 minutes to hour.  Then I dump them on aluminum foil to dry.

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I love how the colors look together!  And they make this spider rhyming activity even more interesting.

hs14Students simply search the tub for a web and spider card that rhymes.  When they find a pair, I have them pin them together with my festive little clothes pin (Fine motor practice?  Why I don’t mind if I do!) and clip it to the side of my tub.

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These are just two of the tubs I have going right now.  I have a third tub waiting in reserves for a collection of fall leaves but I need to get some little boys to collect me some this weekend.
The great thing is that once I get my tubs filled, I can just change out the activities I want my students to practice as needed.
 
My Yes You Can Sensory Tables packet for October has a plethora of activities, task cards, I can posters, and response sheets.
Each activity has it’s own ‘I can . . .’ sheet or task card that gives students a visual aide to make sensory play independent and that indicates the CCSS being address in each activity.  So when you get that person that wanders in your classroom speculating on the value of sensory play/work, you can refer them to the standard that your students are practicing.

hs19If you’d like to find out more about October’s Sensory Table Yes You Can packet, just click on any of the pictures above.

So, what’s in your sensory table?

 

Marsha Moffit McGuire

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