We've started a new thing in our house: the permanent sensory table. Before, I would put together a sensory activity for D once a month or so. This activity never had a permanent home and tended to get tossed around the house for a week then tossed out. This summer we are keeping a large plastic tub in our kitchen and this is the new sensory tub. I figured since we are changing the material out so frequently, I would share with you the new materials in a series of posts. This being the first.
Why do children need sensory experiences?
The benefits of the sensory tub have been both for D and for myself. He LOVES the fact that I've been changing the material every other week as well as the tools. Sensory activities help build fine motor skills, encourage imaginary play, and help develop self-regulation (yay!). We also know that children learn by doing and actually experiencing their world so sensory play basically helps grow big brains! But for me? the sensory tub buys me about 15 minutes or more of busy time where I can prepare a meal, clean the kitchen, and throw in some laundry. Sanity saver people!
Location and storage
I mentioned we keep it in a tub. It's about probably about a 45 quart tub and only about 3" deep. The benefits to the tub is that it is mobile. D moves it around the kitchen as needed, or into our dining room. The only rule with the sensory tub is that the material stays in the tub. If I need to put it away, the tub is small enough that stacking it in our laundry room is fine. But like I said, it's getting a lot of use so it hasn't been put away much. I've considered getting a permanent little sensory table but that's still filed in the "we'll see" bin.
Sensory Material: Kinetic Sand
Let me start by saying we did not make this, someone gifted us about 3lbs of the stuff (I did find this tutorial to make it for pretty cheap so if you try it let me know how it turns out!). We have sand similar to this. I will also point out there's probably less than 1.5lbs in the tub. In a previous ahem experience, I came home to find in a fit of anger, D had thrown it ALL OVER THE HOUSE. We vacuumed it up.
Anyway, like I was saying, we have kinetic sand in the sensory tub right now. I love this stuff. If it falls on the floor (minus in a fit of anger) it's easy to gather back up. This sand is moldable and has a really soft feel. D has been very into construction vehicles lately so we added his set of mini-construction vehicles. He has really enjoyed spending time scooping, dumping, and pushing the sand around.
There are so many other things you could add to the sand besides trucks! Imagine mini-beach toys, toy dinosaurs, or just a bunch of measuring cups. That's what makes a sensory tub so versatile. You don't need all the fancy stuff sometimes because the kiddos will use their imagination and the sky is the limit!
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