Tag Archives: sensory play
One day in class we started an Octopus project when we noticed the preschoolers were playing with a plastic octopus toy and play dough. Initially, we used images of an Octopus projected onto a wall to inspire writing, drawing, and counting, however the exploration didn’t stop there. We extended the project again by incorporating clay and loose parts to create representations of the Octopus, and soon thereafter we got the real thing! That’s right! We went to the grocery store and bought one large Octopus and 5 small Octopuses and placed them on the light table in the hallway for the children to study, touch, inspect, draw, and write down their observations.
Take a look at the photos below and pay special attention to the wonder and amazement in the children’s faces. It was an incredible experience for them to see the Octopus in person and have the opportunity to explore this unique creature openly.
In the toddler 2 class, we decided to continue our study on citrus fruit by lining up the fruit on the light table for a different sensory experience and interactive experiment! We matched the watercolor paint to the shades of the fruit and displayed images of the exact same fruit. Moreover, we even had a bowl with pre-cut slices for the children to hold, smell, and taste (since we knew they would want to put the fruits in their mouths!)
The children spent most of the time exploring the fruit and increasing their vocabulary. At first they were referring to all of the fruit as “apples,” but they gradually progressed into calling the fruits by their correct names: lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange, etc.
One goal we’ve been trying to achieve is to show the children that each food has a different taste and textures. To illustrate this, we cut up some cucumbers with the children so they could taste and play with them. As you can tell in the photos below, the cucumbers received a variety of reactions from the Toddler 1 class. One child enjoyed eating them, one child enjoyed sharing them, two children bit into the cucumbers and quickly spit the vegetable out, and a few children enjoyed playing with the cucumber skin and attempted to construct figures with it.
According to Dr. Susan Evans Morris, children need to learn about new foods in an unthreatening way. “When they stir, pat, smear, pour, and make designs with an unfamiliar food, they experience the sensory qualities of that food. What olor is it? What does it smell like? What does it feel like on my hands? Is it smooth or does it have some texture? Is it wet or dry?”
By allowing children to play with the whole cucumber, prepared slices, and engage in a sensory experience, they developed the comfort to explore the food with their mouths and this also gave them the confidence and greater willingness to experience the food. Moreover, the teachers had a chance to observe the children communicate, problem solve (when building with the cucumber skins and deciding what to do if they didn’t like the taste), work on their fine motor skills (by picking up and handling the vegetable), and describe the different tastes and textures they were experiencing.
According to Susan Revermann, a great way to continue this study at home is to take your child grocery shopping with you and turn it into a fun learning experience! Pick up various whole foods and show them to your child. Hold up two foods with contrasting colors, various shapes, different sizes, sweet smells, pungent smells, and foods that they may and may not recognize. Even if your child doesn’t quite understand your words yet or have the words to describe it themselves, your child will be developing their language skills while participating in a visually stimulating experience!
The children are always looking to explore new things. Throughout the week, we set up different provocations to encourage the children to play. One particular day we presented the infants with a large cardboard box and laid it in two different positions. During one instance, we laid the cardboard box right-side-up and filled it with multicolored plastic balls, and later on the teachers turned the box on it’s side and put a few small toys inside. The children responded to the box when it was on it’s side in a more positive way than when it was placed right-side up. The infants crawled inside the box and played for several minutes. Some children even enjoyed pushing the cardboard box and moving it around the room.
We recently began another juicing project in our Toddler 2 class because the children enjoyed it so much the first time! We noticed that they were eagerly willing to spend the entire class time juicing fruits, so we expanded this study and presented them with grapefruit, oranges, lemons, and limes.
Moreover, one of the parents generously contributed dried orange slices and we are using them as loose parts in our play dough area. We created something called salt-dough for the slices so we can save the designs that the children make!