A sensory table is a fabulous tool to have in your kindergarten classroom. There are purposeful ways that you can include a sensory bin or sensory table in your classroom. There are also many wonderful benefits that students can gain from using this tool.
Sensory Table Ideas For The Classroom
Maybe you have a sensory bin or table in your classroom. Or maybe you want one. Perhaps you have one but don’t know how to use it in a purposeful way. Well, I hope I can answer some of your questions and give you ideas on using this very fun and educational table in your kindergarten classroom.
What is a Sensory Table or Sensory Bin?
Sensory bins and sensory tables are almost the same thing. Both are a container filled with substances and materials that can encourage exploration and may use one or all of the child’s senses. All children love to explore their world with all 5 of their senses. The sensory table, or bin, does just that. It lets them learn and explore with many different materials in a designated area in your classroom. By incorporating academics and specific skills, this exploration becomes meaningful, purposeful and encourages learning of those specific skills. Sensory activities can help build nerve connections in the brain and encourages the development of language and motor skills.
The difference between a sensory bin and a sensory table is the size. Sensory bins can be plastic tubs that can be put on a table or even the floor. While a table is stand alone. You can purchase sensory table or if you are looking for a different option, I have a DIY Sensory Table tutorial. This is especially helpful if you need more than one sensory table in your classroom.
Helpful Tip: Whichever one you choose, just make sure you have a lid for your bins, to keep out bugs/critters, as well as keep the materials inside and safe.
Sensory Bin Filler Ideas
Once you find the sensory bin or sensory table of your choice, next is the filler. The filler is what actually fills the sensory bin and provides the sensory aspect. There are endless ways you could fill your sensory bin, but these are my favorites:
- rice (Check out our rainbow rice tutorial)
- rock salt
- water beads
- fake snow
- real snow
- easter grass
- shredded paper
- dry pasta
- soapy water
- water with food coloring
- leaves (real or fake)
- cotton balls
- foam pieces
- epsom salt
- building blocks (wooden, foam, or plastic)
- fabric scraps
- costume jewelry
- play puffs
- silk or plastic flowers
- flower petals
- corn starch
- play coins
Sensory Bin Tools
It is also a great idea to have sensory bin tools. These can help children ‘play’ with the sensory bin filler.
- handy scoopers
- measuring cups & spoons
- ice cube tray
Sensory activities are super beneficial on their own but they can also be the shell for a whole bunch of other activities. We have a handful of activities that can be used in a sensory bin but again, the options are endless. I like setting up sensory activities in my classroom because I can set it up and leave it for an extended amount of time. This can be used for early finishers, morning work or inside recess.
What Skills This Station Teaches Students
- How to use tools & supplies
- Activity expectations
- All materials stay INSIDE of sensory table/bin
- Materials may be touched and smelled, but DO NOT GO IN MOUTHS
- No throwing or shaking materials at friends or yourself
- Determine any rules/procedures you feel are necessary to this station
- How to clean up
I usually keep the same materials in this station for 2-3 months, since we are working on a particular skill set for that amount of time. If we are learning letter ID, magnetic letters or letter cards work well in bin. Students scoop up letters and then color them on their response sheet. The Response Sheet can be seasonal. I have uppercase and lowercase response sheets, as well as letters. Stations can be differentiated by students creating simple words or sight words with the letters.
Fall is the time I usually have corn (from your local feed store), and use Apple themed sight words. Wintertime I change my station up to include white rock salt, to act as ‘snow’ and include my snowy sight words. I also like to change it up around Spring time and add Easter grass and plastic eggs with the **free** Easter Egg Sight Words and recording sheet.
I only use my sensory table for literacy activities but you could include math, colors, and more!
Click on above image for directions on making your own “Rainbow Rice”.
Do you have ideas that you use for your sensory bins? I would love to hear about them. Please leave a comment or find me on my social media channels and leave a note!!