Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Simplify Preschool: Sensorial

Sensorial activities help children explore and make observations in their environment by using their senses. Children (and all people) do this naturally as they learn about their surroundings. In the past I have created sensory bins (like this transportation bin or these space-themed bins), but there are so many opportunities to make use of the everyday objects around you as well. To continue the "Simplify Preschool" theme, here are some unplanned sensorial activities.


There is so much to see around us! Colors, shapes, patterns...I find that just taking the time to slow down and give M time to make observations is so helpful. She comes up with some amazing questions when she has time to watch what's happening around her. Fall is a great time to go outside and look at the changing colors of leaves or watch the birds, squirrels and other woodland creatures that are more visible as the leaves fall from the trees. We also took a visit to the Museum of Art to look at their collections. M was especially interested in the sculptures, and enjoyed looking at the different shapes and colors in the artwork.

Above: Watching water drip at The Children's Museum, painting with golf balls at Creating Artists for Tomorrow, exploring the colors and sounds of fall at Paris Mountain State Park, and watching the colored fountains at Falls Park

Below: Exploring colors of the rainbow


I cringe when I hear people telling their kids "Don't Touch!" all the time. Sure, there are certainly things that kids don't need to be touching, but I feel like it's so important to create an environment that minimizes things that are off limits. I like to purposely put out objects that M will enjoy exploring - different textures and materials for her to feel. There are also so many things in nature to touch, like the different types of bark on trees, hard rocks, soft moss, crunchy leaves, pointy pine cones.

Art projects that involve different textures and materials are a great way to let kids explore their sense of touch. Below you can see M squishing paint under pieces of plastic, painting on bubble wrap, painting on a tree (at Creating Artists for Tomorrow), finger painting, sculpting with play-doh and miscellaneous materials (candles, pipe cleaners, beads, marbles), creating art with natural materials, and sculpting with pipe cleaners on a colander.

Aside from art, it's fun to just take time to explore materials. Below are pictures of M popping bubble wrap with her feet, feeling the breeze in a wind tunnel and on a swing, feeling soft decaying pumpkins, and playing and splashing at a water table.


Taste is one of the more difficult senses to explore right now because M has become really picky with the types of foods she is willing to try. I don't force her to eat anything that she doesn't want to eat, but I do offer lots of different types of foods and suggest that she take at least one bite of each food to determine what she likes and doesn't like. M is more of a grazer when it comes to eating, so I try to offer small bites of different foods for her to snack on throughout the day.

M is a huge fan of smoothies, so she now helps to choose what kinds of fruit we will add. Halloween was also a fun time to compare the taste of different types of candy - sweet, sour, hard, chewy, minty, crunchy. 


I typically think of cooking when I think of smells, and I try to include M in as much cooking as possible. She smells the herbs and spices as we add them to meals, and smells (and tastes) foods as we cook them.

We also try to take time to appreciate the scents in nature - flowers, pine trees, freshly cut grass. (Apparently I don't take pictures of her smelling things... go figure.)


The sense of sound. Birds chirping, airplanes flying overhead, music that makes you want to dance. We do a lot of singing, dancing and playing instruments at our house. We have "dance parties" at least once a day, and play "marching band" several times per week. M especially enjoys recruiting house guests to join her marching bands as she leads them in circles around our house. We like to borrow CDs from the library, and M especially enjoyed Elmo & The Orchestra (check for the mp3 songs for a cheaper option). I liked how they highlighted the different sections of the orchestra as well as introducing several well known symphonies.

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Check out the rest of the Simplify Preschool series here!

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