Saturday, July 20, 2013

Sensory Fun! (+ a freebie)

This coming school year I will be starting my fourth k/1 loop. Which means I'll be starting my fourth year in Kindergarten (It will be my 10th year teaching which is completely crazy to me.). I have had a sand table in my room each year in kindergarten and I haven't used it once. It grosses me out for some reason. It has a nice cover so I've always just used it as a table. But I read this post over at Pre K and Sharing by Marsha from A Differentiated Kindergarten and I started to think of ways that I could incorporate it into my class. Click her to go to that post.  So after that post I started a pinterest board all dedicated to Sensory learning. Check it out here.  My friend Mary from Mrs. Lirette's Learning Detectives also has a couple of good posts about sensory activities here. 
One of my biggest challenges was figuring out what I was going to replace the sand with. There is something about sand that I'm just not a fan of. Plus this sand hasn't been played with or anything for who knows how long. After seeing some other people use rice. This is what I decided on. But I can't do just ordinary white rice. I had to make it rainbow and fun. So yesterday after keeping my niece all morning I headed to Dollar General to get some supplies. I decided to try out the kool aid dying method. It thought I would have more choices in colors. Unfortunately the dollar general only had a few flavors to choose from.

I headed to the grocery store this morning and got a few more packets of kool aid to dye the rest of the rice. I wasn't crazy about the yellow. I used the whole pack of kool aid for it and it isn't too vibrant. but I think it will look good all mixed together. I had posted on my facebook page that I was getting ready to do this and I had a few questions. 
The rice dried pretty well and none of the color rubbed off on my hands. Now the red bag in the last picture was an experiment. I put a whole packet of kool aid in it and only had a little rice left. The dye was pretty strong in this one and some of this dye rubbed off on my hands. I don't think it will be an issue once it dries.
The colors are not that bright but I like them. I don't know if I had used food coloring gel if it would have been different. I don't have access to much more than what my local grocery store has. Cost wise I think kool aid was the way to go. I got each pack for 20 cents so all my colors for a $1.00. I also really like that the rice smells nice. 

One of my projects this week is to empty the sand out and get this rice into the table. I'm thinking I might need another 5lb bag but we will see. For the kids' first experience with this table, I'm going to put some letters in with the rice. I'm thinking I'll use magnetic letters, foam letters and these letter cards that I've made. I found this great letter clipart from Dancing Crayons. Here's a freebie for you to use in your own sensory tub. 

Included is upper and lowercase letters and an I can poster to display with the literacy station. 
I would love to hear about your sensory tub activities and if you download this freebie. 


  1. I LOVE my sensory table--I've used one since my preschool days (Kindergarten now). I work in a Title I school w/high population ESL/ELL. So many of my kiddos have never had a sensory experience; among many other things. Nobody wanted the old battered and beaten sensory table, but I did! I also purchased table top sensory tubs from Lakeshore Learning: so I can use them outdoors or bring outdoors in (ie. snow), in specific centers, or for group activities. You are on your way...there is a plethora of great ideas for sensory tables, Good Luck and enJOY!!

  2. Just remember that depending on how often you use your table you will need to change the rice at least monthly. I use my table for all sorts of things and I change it at least monthlyl, sometimes weekly. It can get unsanitary if you leave it for a very long time.

    Good luck with your sand table, it is a great addition to any classroom!

  3. I like to use shredded construction paper in my sensory tub. We use red, orange and yellow for fire safety week, pastel colors at Easter, different shades of green for grass when we study bugs, etc. I hide rhyming cards, upper and lowercase letters, picture cards and matching letters for beginning sounds, number matching puzzles, etc. The kids love it! I use other things in the tub, too. Unpopped popcorn or oatmeal is fun at Thanksgiving. At Christmas, I put in Dollar Store bead garland and scissors for the kids to practice fine motor skills. The possibilities are endless!

  4. When I taught preschool, I used potting soil, plastic insects, plastic pots, and child sized gardening tools in my sensory tubs. The children loved it. I love the freebie! Thanks for sharing.
    Bea Samples

  5. Your colored rice looks like fun! Like you, I've done magnetic letters and flashcards in a sensory bin. I've also put in beginning sounds pictures that the kids have to match with a letter card. You could do that for CVC words, ending sounds, word families, etc.

    Kindergarten Kel

  6. This post makes me want to get started on dying rice for the new school year! :)