Sensory tables originally started out as sand and water tables. These pieces that were originally designed to facilitate early learning through the use of sand and water are now much more than that. With the growing number of schools and homes incorporating sensory tables in the beginning stages of learning, engaging toddlers in sensory play now has endless possibilities. Here are 10 sensory table ideas for toddlers to enjoy.
Sensory Table Ideas for Toddlers and Preschoolers
1. Bubble Time
By mixing a bit of dish soap with water, children can create suds that will lead to fun and creative sensory play. Add some food coloring or Kool-Aid to give the suds some color. This is a great way for toddlers to learn and discover a little bit about science.
2. Demolition Derby
A layer of soil in the sensory bin can give children a way to design a racetrack for their toy cars and trucks. Using their imagination, toddlers can construct a derby track. Forming obstacles such as turns and hills help to develop young learners fine motor skills.
3. Rock Study
Fill the sensory table with rocks, pebbles, and stones. Toddlers can discover different types of rocks by closely examining them with a magnifier and sorting them by color or size. Rocks can also set the stage for a construction site with dump trucks and Lego building structures.
4. Ocean Views
Water and sand mixed with a few seashells and toy fish make for a great day of beach discoveries. Swim with the dolphins or help a ship set sail in the salty water. Searching for sunken boats or deep-sea fishing can keep children occupied and fascinated about learning.
5. Fairy or Gnome Garden
Design an enchanted place for fairies and gnomes to get together. With some twigs and flowers, toddlers can build a unique playground for magical beings. Allowing children to explore and manipulate materials in their own way strengthens self-esteem and creativity.
6. Jell-O Play
Squeezing Jell-O through their fingers will keep children amused and occupied while using their sense of touch, and in this case, possibly taste, as well! Throw in some plastic cookie cutters and toddlers can make shapes and designs with this flexible medium.
7. Buried Treasure
Stage a treasure hunt for the lost gold! Children can sift and dig through the sand filled sensory table in search of jewels.
8. Alphabet Soup
Introduce toddlers to the alphabet with this fun sensory table idea. With cooked pasta and magnetic letters, children can engage in play that involves all the senses.
9. Frog Pond
Toddlers can discover a natural habitat by spending time in a homemade pond. Form a rock bed and add floating lily pads on the water. Children can search for different kinds of frogs and turtles while learning about environment.
10. Walk on the Moon
Explore a day in history when the first step was taken on the moon. Make moon sand (8 cups flour: 1 cup baby oil) for the rocket ship to land on and search for moon rocks in the sand. Moon rocks can be made up of balled aluminum foil.
Learning with sensory tables provides children with hands on experience about the world around them. Activities that stimulate touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight naturally encourage toddlers to explore. The more children are inspired to participate in sensory experiences, the more they learn.
What are some of your favorite sensory bin activities for early childhood?