Sticky, slippery, crunchy, smelly, ...that's what sensory experiences are made of. When children’s senses are engaged, they retained information better and learn better. Can’t you still get that smell from your grandma’s kitchen when she was cooking your favourite tart? I still remember the smell of the paté my granny used to prepare for me whenever I was visiting; or the way my grandad’s workshop smelled of wood chippings and sawdust.
Sensory experiences are vital to young children's learning, they need “hand on” experiences with materials, with the world around them. This is why I chose the Montessori method of education. This is also why I have introduced a sensory tub on my practical life exercises shelf.
These sensory tubs/tables contribute to the child’s cognitive development (As children experiment with different sized containers in cornmeal or sand, they develop math skills such as size, conservation, counting, timing, matching, classifying and sorting). The sensory tubs also help their language to expand as they talk about what they feel. As they pour, spoon, grasp and work on eye-hand coordination, they develop their pre-writing skills too. On a social and emotional level, during they play with a sensory tub, they learn to feel good about decision-making and to control their actions as well as to become confident in sharing ideas.. The benefits are endless.
Technically, sensory tubs are not affiliated with Montessori but their use follow the same lines of thought and I personally think that they compliment the method extremely well.
When I first introduced the sensory tubs, I only used sand.
Then I added either rice or lentils.
And of course I place little containers, a funnel and a wooden spoon for the kids to use. I am quite happy with the result and I can’t wait to see the children’s reactions. Follow my comments on this post to see what they said!
The other day, I came across a blog called Our Worldwide Classroom. It shares ideas for sensory tubs by linking up with many other bloggers. So I decided to be a bit more adventurous and to create our own St Patrick tub. I used yellow and red food colourings to turn rice orange. Then I added mung beans (they are green) and I mixed everything together. Et voila. An Irish theme in a tub. Then I gathered yellow markers to represent coins (for the leprechauns!) as well as bottle tops, green and white foam shamrocks, beads and feathers….