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Touch and feel sensory box stations are always a hit when center time rolls around! Children love the idea of sticking their little hands in a box of unknown treasures to explore and learn. I have seen sensory boxes filled with a variety of contents, and sometimes those contents can get out of hand! But if you’re feeling like adding a sensory station to your classroom, here are a few simple ideas:
If you don’t already have a sensory table, create your own! This can be done by purchasing an under-bed storage container; this size works well because it is long and shallow. Simply clear off a tabletop and put your storage box on the top of the table. Add Velcro or tape to secure your storage box so that it won’t find its way to the floor.
Next, add your contents!
1. Dry Noodles
Add uncooked noodles such as bowties or elbows and allow students to dig through them to find hidden contents. For younger grades, make a list of your hidden contents and have students search for each item and check it off as they find it (ex: a bouncy ball, dice, a fake coin, etc.). Also, you could hide tokens that have a number or letter on them. Ask your students to find the numbers or letters in chronological or alphabetical order.
2. Dry Rice and Beans
Add shovels and cups to the sensory station to allow students to dig through dry rice and beans. Let students write/talk about how the rice feels as it flows through their hands. You can dye white rice using food coloring to add some color to your table.
Wouldn’t it be nice to bring a little beach to the classroom? Add sand into your sensory station to let students experience the feeling of sand between their fingers. You can put a funnel and other sand toys in the box to let students play with. Ask students to try to ‘build’ buildings and create tunnels. Let them build their motor skills as they dig through the sand.
If you’re feeling brave enough, add water into your sensory box. Water will be an automatic hit in your classroom! Students will enjoy sticking their hands into water and exploring its properties. Add in items–like a small toy boat, a small hollow plastic ball, a magnet–that allow students to explore the idea of sink and float. Create a worksheet that allows them to record predictions about sink and float and then their findings.
When bringing a sensory station into your classroom, it is important to remind students about guidelines they should follow. Such guidelines include keeping the contents in the table, following directions at the table, and completing work at the table. You can always ask your students what they would like to see in the sensory box… children are full of great ideas!
Rachel Stepp is a graduate student at The University of Georgia who is brimming over with creative ideas to share on A Learning Experience. And aren’t we glad!