Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Sensory Centers

I have something to admit.

I move fast. I do multitask, and check things off my list and get things done. I want to get to goals on the most direct path. And sometimes I get wrapped up in that with my students. We move too fast through academic standards because some kiddos are ready.  But some are NOT. And all 5 and 6 year olds NEED sensory experiences to activate their little minds.

So this year, during every center rotation, I WILL have a sensory play center. I tried it out a little last year, but have really thrown myself into it this summer.

I found these gel beads (read more about that here) at the dollar store and was a little skeptic, but they WORK! All you need to do is empty the packet of gel beads into a bowl of water and let it sit a few hours. Voila! Marble size gel balls kind of like boba.

They are slippery, soft and just all around fun to touch.  My kiddos are going to love their plastic bowls full of gel beads, rocks and water.  Together we will explore how water moves around the gel beads, rocks, and sand. It's a fun little exploratory center!

Next up - a little hair gel, plastic bags, and letter cards.  Just put the hair gel in a bag, letter card underneath, and trace! More about that here. Fun for little fingers! Grab those letter cards for FREE here.

Seriously, what are these called? I Googled every possible descriptive word under the sun to find the name of the circle, snap building blocks and NOTHING! Yikes. So I am just going to call them table builders because they look like that little table in the pizza box.

Whatever they are called they are so much fun! In August and September I am going to use them as an exploratory center first and then incorporate some fairy tale STEM. Table builders snap, rotate, and have four different points to connect. They definitely require some strong fingers, so were working on building fine motor with this one!

Those little fingers are going to LOVE digging though these colorful pebbles to find their letters.  All it is here is decorative stone from the dollar store (or aquarium rocks), a pack of Dollar Spot letters, and a small bin.  Kiddos can dig with their fingers, pull out letters and color in the letter they found!  I use letter recording sheets like the ones below for many of my centers!

Letter recording options are included in most of my alphabet centers.  Students can choose the recording sheet they want and simply color in a letter when they find it. I hide these letter stones around the room for the kiddos to hunt for. Once they find them, they color in the letter on their chosen sheet.

Pick up all 20 pages of letter recording sheets here. Use them in any or all of your alphabet centers. You can print on color and put them in a clear write and wipe pocket too!

I love being able to give my kiddos a choice in their center work that won't put me over the edge. Especially at the beginning of Kindergarten - am I right?

So do you have the same problem of moving fast through the year? What are you doing to slow down? What sensory centers are you using?

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