Friday, July 15, 2011

The importance of a sensory tub

A sensory tub is one of the most important teaching "tools" you can provide for your child of any age--from infant to school age.

I suggest using one container all the time as your designated "sensory tub" and changing out the items inside it from time to time.

Ours currently has a mixture of dried beans--for scooping, filling, dumping, sorting, counting, shaking, and spooning.

There are gazillions of ideas out there on what to put in sensory tubs--from simple to complex.

For babies--start easy! Water is a great first sensory experience and you don"t have to worry about them eating it! But I encourage you to move on to other substances like shredded paper, bubbles, feathers, fabric scraps, etc. Sit with your child for 5-10 minutes while they play and explore to monitor safety. For infants, you may not want to provide any tools--just let them use their hands.

For toddlers, begin introducing tools such as scoops, funnels, measuring cups, spoons, jars and pans with lids, shakers (empty parm cheese containers or spice containers), etc., so they can practice measurement and fine motor skills. They can use a variety of materials--beads, sand, shaving cream, pasta, rice, cornmeal, birdseed, cedar chips (from petstore), leaves, etc.

For older children, hide plastic letters or numbers in the sorting mix. Mix in metal and non metal objects and provide a magnet for them to sort through the mix and find all magnetic materials.

The internet abounds with different sensory tub experiences you can give your children.....and usually putting together a sensory tub takes about 5 it's not super involved to set up.

We usually keep the same materials in our tub for 3-4 weeks to give lots of opportunities for exploration and EXTENDED exploration. Initially I just teach Q the rules of whatever materials she's using (ie: keep the beans on the tray) and let her explore. Then over time I might challenge her in different ways--
"Can you fill the measuring cup up using the green scoop?"
"How many scoops fit in the pan?"
"Let's sort the beans by type! Let me tell you their names."

So.....happy sensory-tubbing!!
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