Sensory Table Activities for Preschoolers
Are you looking for some new sensory table activity ideas, or a list of items you can add to your sensory table? You've come to the right spot! A sensory table or bin can be used for much more than than just scooping and pouring! It can be transformed into a vessel for children to explore all of their senses, nature and the world around them.
Below you will find a variety of suggested items to add to your sensory table! Be sure to download your free copy of my sensory bin checklists at the bottom of this post!
What is a Sensory Bin?
A sensory bin (or table) is a tool used by professionals to help young kids develop in several areas. It is the perfect activity to help kids play independently all afternoon long and help their minds grow through play.
This type of activity has been used in preschools all around the world for decades and the benefits been studied for decades.
A sensory bin is a small plastic tub of interesting sensory toys that appeal to different senses to help kids grow in different areas. They are used for so many things and a popular form of play for preschoolers.
What are the Benefits of using a Sensory Bin?
Developing Skills in preschool is all about creating an educational foundation that will last a lifetime. Not only are sensory bins the perfect tool to help your students' minds grow, but they are an engaging way to play that your preschoolers will love.
Sensory Bins Equipment
Sensory bins are a simple and cost effective way to help your preschooler play. In fact, there is a good chance that you can create a sensory bin with items you already have in your classroom or home.
Some simple low cost types of sensory containers and tools you can use:
More Sensory Bin Container Ideas
Another low cost option is the table from IKEA. It's small lightweight size is great for home childcare providers with smaller spaces. The two trofast bins inside the table can be removed and stored, and the covers it comes with allow the table to be used for table top activities.
Tools to add to your Sensory Bin/Table
Fill your bin with a variety tools and holders that will allow children to manipulate the base. These objects can also help young children improve skills such as fine motor skills, sorting, etc.
Types of Sensory Bin Fillers
There are so many types of different fillers you can add to your bin as a base - don't forget to download our free sensory bin guide for tons of ideas! Almost any object that you can imagine can be used to help your kids play.
Fillers are typically categorized into two categories- wet and dry.
Safety Note: It's important to consider the age, and developmental stages of the children in your care when selecting a base.
Here are a few suggested wet and dry sensory bin fillers:
A few examples of sensory bin ideas our readers have shared over the years:
Sensory Bin Activity Ideas
Creating a sensory bin for your class doesn't have to be overwhelming! In fact, all it takes is a few things to make an interactive activity that your students will love.
In addition you exploring your senses, you can also set up sensory bins to learn more about different seasons and different themes!
Some areas to explore are:
Teacher Tips for using Sensory Bins with Students
For success, here are a few tricks to make sure the bins are well received and easy to manage!
Make clean up a breeze by adding a plastic tablecloth, shower curtain, sheet, drop cloth, butcher paper, newspaper, washable rug or mat under the table/bin. Keep a small hand broom, and dustpan near by and teach the children how to sweep with it. Keep old towels nearby for easy clean up as well.
Materials to avoid
Keep in mind that some materials might not be the best for your students. Always take into account any allergies as well as the age of your students.
Since some of the fillers are choking hazards, you want to make sure the students are old enough to avoid putting any materials in their mouths.
I would also advise you to avoid using styrofoam and raw kidney beans in your sensory bins. It's messy, a huge choking hazard and not worth the risk.
Tips for Storing your Bins
It's a smart idea to mix up what is in your sensory bin every few weeks or so. This helps keep the activity fresh and engaging!
For safe and easy storage you can store dry fillers in either plastic containers or gallon sized ziplock bags.
For individual bins, you can also store the bins with a lid in a cabinet or closet.
This is the perfect activity for a busy morning when you don’t have much time to set up.
Tips for introducing sensory bins
When it comes to sensory bins in your classroom, students will probably have several reactions. Typically there is some curiosity, excitement and a little apprehension.
Keep in mind that some sensory bins may trigger sensory issues that make your students uncomfortable so never force a child to play. Instead, spend some time demonstrating how to play with the materials provided in the sensory bin and present opportunities for the child to try.
Keep in mind that some play will be messy and that includes sensory bins. There is a chance that some rice, shaving cream, or any other filler may end up on the floor. My best advice is to remind your students to do their best to keep the materials in the bin and involve them in any clean up afterwards.
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