Sensory Games

Children must remove shoes and walk across bubble wrap; light as a feather, heavy as an elephant, fast as a cheetah… without popping any bubbles.

Try making sensory dominoes. Use heavy cardboard cut into rectangles a size easily manageable by your age group of children. Cut out the circles for the dominoes from self-adhesive sandpaper and stick onto the cardboard in the fashion the domino circles are arranged. Cut out the actual numbers that correspond with the dots. Stick these to the back of the dominoes. These dominoes encourage the children to trace the numbers and dots with their fingers, reinforcing prewriting skills.

A ‘Feely’ Box (or Bag)

Make an arm hole for little arms in a box and cover the hole with a small cloth. Put items of different textures, shapes, etc. into the box. Then have children stick their arm in and guess the first thing they feel before they take it out and see if their right. This is a great game to stay on the discovery table. You can change the items in the box as often as you like. A quicker version to use in a pinch for a quick game while at transition or other short times during your day is to get a paper bag and add a variety of items. As each child sticks their hand in the bag to pick one item and hold it – while you hold the bag – ask them to describe what it is their holding before they guess what it is. This is a great language builder as well as a fun tactile experience.

“What Do You Hear?”

Buy enough Styrofoam cups for each child and yourself to have two. Cut the bottoms off the cups ahead of time. This activity works best in a small group. Hook the cups on your ears, the small end you cut the bottom out of. (You’ll need to fold your entire ear into the cup – it will work, believe me!). Have the children do the same, you may need to help them. Soon you’ll all have ‘cup ears’, they’ll laugh when they look at each other. Then explain-NO one is to holler into anyone’s ears, because that would really hurt. Then have the children talk to you and each other. Ask them, “how does my voice sound?” Them have them gently push the cups forward, show them with yours. Ask “now how do I sound?” and talk for them. Next tip the cups towards the back – this creates a sound that is faraway. Again, talk and ask how that sounds. You can have them cover one ear and talk, hands over both ears, raised to the ceiling, etc. Then have them take the cups off and turn them with the big end to their ear (they’ll have to hold them there) and talk. Ask, “how is that different?” When you feel you’ve kept the game going as long as you can, take them off and ask, “Well now what can we do with these? We surely can’t drink out of them!” Some kids will want to decorate them, some will use them as a megaphone. I’ve had kids in my current class get up and bet the tape and make spyglasses by taping the two large ends together and then decorating them. It’s fun to extend the game into a discovery and creative art activity when finished exploring how our ears work.

I Spy

“I Spy” is a game everybody’s played in some form. The most common way is also a great transition game for the entire group. As the children gather around you, you begin the game by saying, “I spy something yellow.” The children then look around the room and guess what it is you see. Whoever guesses is next, unless you wish to control the game by being the ‘questioner’. Sometimes the play is more lively if you keep the questioning, although some children are very good at it at a young age. If you play the game often enough you can expand it beyond colors and ask other questions, such as: “I spy something striped” or “I spy something square”. There’s many variations from this fun, visual learning game, it’s only as limited as you make it!

Smelly Jars

Use a hammer and nail to make holes in the lids of baby food jars. Place a few cotton balls in each jar you make. Then go to the cupboards and add a scent to each jar. Long lasting jar fragrances are, coffee, powdered cocoa (chocolate), garlic salt, vinegar, baby powder, cinnamon, any flavored extracts, garlic salt, etc. The possibilities are endless. Tighten the jar lids firmly and place them in their own plastic container as a carrying case. When introducing them to the children, make it a game. Explain these are the classrooms “smelly jars” and they are not to be opened or turned upside down – only smelled (through the holes in lid). (Most preschoolers can’t read yet so you are safe in labeling the jars for yourself!) Begin to pass them around one at a time and see who can guess what’s in the jar. Their expressions as they smell are priceless! When a smell is identified see if the entire group agrees on it before revealing what it is. Then ask, “When (or where) would you use vinegar?” The answers will be varied according to the child’s experience and sometimes culture. After the game (during a large group time or a small group time), place the bottles on the discovery table to be used during free time. You’ll be surprised how many children smell them over and over again.



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