Do you have a sensory area or sensory activities in your classroom? Sensory play is essential in helping to develop cognitive, social, fine motor, and so much more! My goal as an Early Childhood Special Education Teacher incorporates sensory bins or activities to help encourage learning through exploration (textures, smells), vocabulary, problem solving, creativity, and curiosity for all students. Below you will find several examples of ways to incorporate hands on, sensory materials and activities in your class.
Themed Sensory Bins
This is one of my favorite ways to incorporate sensory bins in my Early Childhood classroom! This bin is made up of dry black beans, trucks, paper towel rolls, foam letters and plastic numbers 0-9. I teach in a Blended Co-Teach Prek-K Classroom, and our Pre-K Curriculum has monthly themes we must follow. This month our theme is “Our Community Helpers”. I incorporated this sensory bin in the fine motor center in my classroom. Students used the trucks to find letters or numbers. The students demonstrated they could differentiate letters from numbers by sorting them on a laminated sheet labeled letters (ABC) and number (123). Themed sensor bins also have an objective or purpose, we should be intentional with what the student will be learning through play. Every 3-4 weeks I update this bin to match the theme. It is something students really look forward to!
A sand box table is used for our recess time! Students have an opportunity to play with many hands on items such as chalk, sand table, or bubbles. We also have a water table that can be used for many things including recess, centers, or even as a reward for a student with a token board. Our sand table is on wheels which is convenient for us teachers. Students love playing with sand and they love all of the extra accessories it comes with. Students also love our light table that is center of its’ own. This light table looks so cool when the lights are dimmed! You can put so many different things on the tables, shapes, beads, and so much more!
Sensory Bins- Fidgets/Behavior
As special education teachers, we know that sometimes students benefit from fidgets. I have a bin of fidgets that are used as fidgets. I usually allow the student to choose a fidget of his liking. Another way I use this bin is with IEP goals that require students to describe an item or even for requesting goals. It is usually a preferred item/activity.
This Kinetic Sand is used for a student as a reward. He has a picture of it on his token board and he chooses to work for some sand time. I use the sand, liquid motion bubbler, sand tube, and trampoline for students who need more sensory time or even a break. Do you have a mini trampoline on your campus?
How do you use sensory bins in your classroom? Let me know in the comments below!