How many are too many sensory bins to have going at one time? Hmmm . . . that’s really good question. But since I have never met a sensory table or bin I didn’t like, I am probably not the best person to ask. I can tell you, however, that I have four going right now in my own classroom. I know . . . I know . . . but with so many things traditionally kindergarten that are quickly disappearing, I refuse to believe that there isn’t room for sensory infused activities in our curriculum. It’s why I have Fine Motor Morning Work, and it’s why I always try and have sensory work available for my kinders. I am lucky to have an administration that has supported this and has seen the benefits of including it in my instruction.
So here’s a little, quick glimpse of what I have going this month and where I am using them. If you are interested in where I have secured any of the materials I used to fill my bins and table, just click on the pictures or links within the text and it will take you to the items.
Snowmen and Snowballs Galore
Don’t judge me. These little guys are much cheaper than their ping pong ball cousins that you find in your local department store and work just as well. In fact, I have purchased three bags of them. One bag was used in my morning work stations that you can see HERE.
Please note, this post does include affiliate links.
But the other three bags have gone into my traditional sensory table. (I was actually pretty lucky with many of my sensory items this month. I have been able to use a bunch of my Morning Work Station left overs in my bins! That’s HUGE financial bonus!)
They filled it quite nicely, but they tend to be more noisy than even I like, so I added a bag of cotton balls and it’s AMAZING how much quieter they are. I also included a differentiated math sensory activity for this table from my January Sensory Activities Galore packet. Students who work with this particular activity will be matching numbers to tens/ones place value cards and hanging them up with clothes pins on a line I have strung next to the sensory bin.
Sorry I didn’t include a picture of the line! I’ll try to get that later this week. I used a set of snowflake clothes pins and line that I secured at the Dollar Tree of all places! If you can’t find them, Amazon does have some snowflake clothes pins that would work or simply purchase some small clothes pins and glue little wooden snowflakes buttons on them. (If you have some left over from my morning work stations you could use those!)
I always include a little “I Can . . .” or visual cue card for my students with sensory work so they know what they are expected to do.
You’ll also notice some snowman faces on some of the pong balls in this table. This is for another activity that can be used at the same or another time. They actually have nonsense words written on the back of them. Students read the words and see how many they collect by reading them correctly to each other. It’s just another little something you can add to extend play.
We do quite a bit of work this month on the Polar Regions. To support our study of this, I like to include a ‘polar’ habitat as one of my “learning centers.”
Learning Centers in my classroom are centers that happen separate from Daily 5 and Math Stations or even Morning Work Stations. These are activities that we have 3 times a week that are more open-ended, but that definitely have a purpose. I include things like building which supports our STEM study this month, Dramatic Play which is all about the Three Little Kittens and retelling that nursery rhyme, Writing with Deedee Will’s Writing Center materials . . . . things like that.
Learning about the Arctic and Antarctic, my students often remind me that the penguins need their own habitat and can not play with the polar bears because they live in totally different parts of the world. It’s great to hear their interaction with each other, and I often find that later, when we write about these subjects they not only have non-fiction material but also a fictional play experience from which to reference when they are writing.
I used a low-sided large tote for this center to make room for at least two students to play here. The filler I used is a plastic artificial snow product like the one below. Amazon has lots of these types of products if your stores don’t carry them right now. I know I picked mine up right before Christmas.
and I also included some plastic ice cubes which I found on Amazon. You can find those by clicking HERE. I’ve collected the little penguin and other polar animals over the years from here and there, and, admittedly, I have also stolen a few from my own children. (Hey, you have to take advantage of those benefits of having kids whenever you can. )
Snowy Match Up
This smaller sensory bin works great in my Daily 5 Word Work station as a choice for my students. It’s differentiated so that some students will actually be matching letter sounds and letters, but this group of student, when they pull out their cards for use at this station, will find that they will be matching CVC words and pictures. I always have people ask if there are response sheets for these stations. Yes, they’re are, but if I use them, I always laminate them, because, quite honestly, I don’t want to correct all that. With the Seasaw app, I can always have my students just take a picture of their work and send it to me. That way there is no paper work and I don’t have to stop what I’m doing to see if they ‘get it.’ They always work in pairs so they are matching and reading the work with a partner as well.
You’ll see this is a smaller, but still a lower sided tote. And, of course, each activity has an “I Can” sheet so that students are reminded what they are to be doing. This particular activity is another from my January Sensory Fun Galore packet.
As for filler . . . you can see I’m using the artificial snow again, but, since I had some left over items from my morning work stations, I decided to use a few of those items in there as well.
Snowy Sight Word Seek and Find
Again in my Daily 5 stations, I included yet another sensory bin in my Sight Word area as a choice for students. These sight word I-Spy cards are included in that same January Sensory Fun Galore pack. There are leveled sets of sight words so that the activity is easily differentiated for my students.
I include an ‘I Can . . .’ sheet along with a response sheet for this activity. Students select a card from the bin, use a magnifying glass to locate the hidden sight word, and then they record the word they find. When they are done, they read their list to a friend.
For this sensory bin I used another small short sided tote. This time I filled it with these old buttons that someone had abandoned in our teachers lounge this summer, along with some more of those plastic snowman hats, wooden snowflake buttons, carrot button noses, black buttons and plastic crystal ice pieces.
So there you have it. Four! I have four sensory stations going this month. I know that sensory activities scare off a lot of teachers. They believe that they are messy and loud, but I encourage you to give them a try. What I can tell you is that they are engaging and fun and your students will love them. And as you can see, by adding just a few simple items, you can even support academic standards and skills while enjoying them. Get creative. Use what you can find . . . ask your family and friends for interesting items your students might like . . . and break out those sensory bins! You won’t regret it.
Of course, if you have any questions, drop me a line. I’m always happy to chat ‘sensory table’ ideas.