With a sensory table, play possibilities are endless. Let your imagination be your guide. Consider both dry and wet experiences, what’s available, and how much time you have for “setting the scene.” Start out simple and observe the children at play. Trust them to know what to do and to let you know when they’re ready for new sensory play experiences.
Sand is a must. So is water. Both provide hours of open-ended play and learning. Start by putting out containers of different shapes and sizes. Add scoops and spoons, both solid and slotted, sieves, sifters, shakers, and pitchers, funnels, measuring cups and spoons. This is a time for adaptive use of both kitchen implements and toys. When used in sand play, stacking and nesting cups invite filling and pouring and can be used as sand molds.The cups demonstrate differences in volume and mass among the graduated cups. Basic mathematical concepts.
For water play, tea sets encourage pouring. Learning to pour liquids without spilling is a challenge requiring concentration and coordination, fundamental skills needed for developing more complex ones. Being able to pour without spilling gives a child independence: the ability to pour himself something to drink when he’s thirsty. When offering someone else a drink, he’s demonstrating social awareness. Learning to estimate how much liquid is in a pitcher and figuring out how to divide the contents evenly among glasses develops mathematical awareness. Without question, children learn while playing.
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