June 2018 Newsletter – Sensory Experiences: Director’s Corner

Because sensory activities are beneficial to all areas of children’s development, members of leadership have the important role of ensuring that sensory opportunities are made available to children throughout the day.  Take a moment to reflect on your current program practices.

  • Are children given the opportunity to explore with all of their senses throughout the day?
  • What materials are available for sensory exploration?
  • How often are these materials made available to children?
  • What are the signs that the staff values sensory exploration?
  • Are the signs that teachers are limiting sensory exploration?

There are a few reasons why programs may see a lack of sensory play experiences:

It’s messy – This can be a concern for teachers as well as parents.  Of course, we don’t want to send children home in ruined clothing.  We will need to communicate with parents the benefits of sensory play, encourage them to dress children in play clothes, and work to use smocks and other protective gear during sensory activities.

Sometimes teachers avoid sensory play because it can be a lot to clean up.  Work with teachers to figure out ways to involve children in the clean-up process.  Remind teachers of the benefits of sensory play and determine a few easy-to-incorporate sensory ideas that they can commit to implementing.  Then, each month, or thematic unit, add another type of sensory experience.

It’s not viewed as academic – We have given a number of sensory play ideas that are academic in nature (sorting and classifying or writing activities).  It may be necessary to remind teachers of the early learning standards in your state and how sensory activities can be used to introduce and reinforce many of these skills.

Incorporate a sensory activity into your next staff meeting.  Give employees 10 minutes to explore sensory materials. Once they have finished, pass out a list of skills from across the domains of learning.  Ask teachers to check off each skill that they practiced in their play.  Ask them if there were skills that they could have practiced with more time, encouragement, or the right tools.  Brainstorm a list of prompts or needed materials they can use to extend sensory play with the children in their classrooms.

Sometimes, teachers report feeling pressure from families to forgo play-based sensory activities in favor of more academic school-readiness options.  To address this concern, we need to do a better job sharing with families the many ways that sensory experiences can be used to introduce, practice, and refine school-readiness skills.

It’s expensive – Whenever possible, look for opportunities to use recycled materials as sensory items.  You do not need to purchase expensive, name-brand doughs – make your own – which is an excellent math and literacy activity to do with children.  Review the classroom supply orders placed by your staff.  Make sure that a.) they are ordering materials for sensory experiences, and b.) that they are being as efficient and economical as possible.  This will help stretch the supply budget, while still offering children these valuable experiences.

Find more ideas on our Pinterest page here!

 

For the Main Article on Sensory Experiences, CLICK HERE

For Infant & Toddler Sensory Ideas, CLICK HERE

For Preschool Sensory Ideas, CLICK HERE

For School-Age Sensory Ideas, CLICK HERE

June 2018 Newsletter – Sensory Experiences: School-Age Activity Ideas

Here are a few ideas that would be appropriate to add to a school age environment:

  • Cooking activities – Introduce new, heathy ingredients into your recipes to reinforce healthy eating.
  • Science experiments – incorporate weekly science experiments. Conduct the experiments several times during the week.  Encourage children to make alterations to the methods of the experiments, make hypotheses, observe the results, and collect data.
  • Origami – Provide children with paper and instructions for folding origami figures.
  • Knitting, crochet, or sewing – Provide materials for these crafts as children’s fine motor skills improve.
  • Homemade instruments – Provide an opportunity for children to explore the sounds that instruments from around the world make. Encourage children to try to design and create their own versions of those instruments using recycled materials.
  • Emotional painting – Encourage children to match their painting style to their current mood.
  • Gardening – There are many opportunities to use our senses when planting a garden.
  • Texture scavenger hunts – Give children a list of textures and challenge children to find items while on a nature walk.

Find more ideas on our Pinterest page here!

 

For the Main Article on Sensory Experiences, CLICK HERE

For Infant & Toddler Sensory Ideas, CLICK HERE

For Preschool Sensory Ideas, CLICK HERE

For Director’s Corner Sensory Ideas, CLICK HERE

June 2018 Newsletter – Sensory Experiences: Preschool Activity Ideas

Here are a few ideas that would be appropriate to add to a preschool environment:

  • Mystery box – Make from a shoebox or tissue box; place a new item in it each day and ask children to explore with their sense of touch to identify the item.
  • Water wall – Work with children to construct a water wall using bins, funnels, water wheels, and pipes.
  • Mud kitchen – Designate a corner of your playground as a mud kitchen. Collect used kitchen tools and bakeware for children to use.
  • Color mixing – Allow children to explore how colors mix, using water/food coloring or paints.  Younger children can explore color mixing using finger paints or with paint places in zipper baggies.
  • I-Spy bottles – Place small plastic items into recycled plastic bottles along with dry pasta or rice. Challenge children to find specific items, or to find items that start with a particular letter of the alphabet.
  • Nature sculptures – Provide a variety of items from nature and clay. Encourage children to create sculptures and other original works of art.
  • Yarn play – Add yarn and straws of different lengths to the sensory table.
  • Light table – If you are unable to purchase a light table, you can create a similar effect using a clear storage container and a few strands of white lights. Try using strands of multi-colored lights for added interest.
  • Scent jars – Place a small amount of spice or scented material into containers with a piece of fabric secured under the lid. Poke a few holes in the lid before attaching it to the container.  The ideas is for the scent to be able to escape – but not the material.  Encourage children to explore the different scents.
  • Salt or sand writing – Provide children with a tray and an amount of salt or sand that covers the bottom of the tray.  Encourage children to make shapes and letters in the sand or salt.
  • New foods – Explore new foods on a regular basis. Before tasting the foods, encourage children to look at, feel, smell, and listen to the food item.
  • Texture blocks – Add sandpaper, felt, and other textures to the blocks in the construction area to add a sensory opportunity as children build.

Find more ideas on our Pinterest page here!

 

For the Main Article on Sensory Ideas, CLICK HERE

For Infant & Toddler Sensory Ideas, CLICK HERE

For School-Age Sensory Ideas, CLICK HERE

For Director’s Corner Sensory Ideas, CLICK HERE

ChildCare Education Institute Offers No-Cost Online Course on Sensory Learning For All Ages

ChildCare Education Institute® (CCEI), an online child care training provider dedicated exclusively to the early care and education workforce, offers CCEI967: Sensory Learning For All Ages as a no-cost trial course to new CCEI users June 1-30, 2018.

The point of “sensory learning” is not simply to use the senses, since nearly all human activities require the use of at least one or more of the five senses. In the early childhood environment, sensory activities are those that require or encourage children to think deliberately about and discuss what they see, hear, smell, touch, or taste. Sensory activities are primary tools for building vocabulary and encouraging experimentation, exploration, and discovery. In short, basic sensory activities in early childhood can help establish a lifelong love of learning.

Developmentally appropriate sensory and multisensory activities are used to develop skills and knowledge across all developmental domains, including:

  • Promote communication skills and build vocabulary
  • Develop social and emotional skills
  • Improve cognitive skills, including mathematical concepts
  • Encourage a love for learning and exploration
  • Increase knowledge of the physical environment
  • Practice fine motor skills

This course examines sensory experiences in the early childhood classroom and the benefits of these activities for young children. Participants will explore various ways of incorporating sensory learning into everyday activities, enhancing sensory learning centers, and appropriate methods of guidance. Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to identify ways children benefit from sensory experiences, list ways for guiding developmentally appropriate sensory learning experiences and implement developmentally appropriate ideas and props used for sensory learning experiences.

“Sensory activities are an important part of the curriculum at all age levels, whether you are working with newborn infants, toddlers, preschoolers, or school−age children,” says Maria C. Taylor, President and CEO of CCEI.  “At each age level, sensory activities can help achieve different developmental goals.”

CCEI967: Sensory Learning For All Ages is a one-hour, beginner-level course and grants 0.1 IACET CEU upon successful completion. Current CCEI users with active, unlimited annual subscriptions can register for professional development courses at no additional cost when logged in to their CCEI account. Users without subscriptions can purchase child care training courses as block hours through CCEI online enrollment.

For more information, visit www.cceionline.edu or call 1.800.499.9907, prompt 3, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST

ChildCare Education Institute, LLC

ChildCare Education Institute®, a division of Excelligence Learning Corporation, provides high-quality, distance education certificates and child care training programs in an array of child care settings, including preschool centers, family child care, prekindergarten classrooms, nanny care, online daycare training and more. Over 150 English and Spanish child care training courses are available online to meet licensing, recognition program, and Head Start Requirements. CCEI also has online certification programs that provide the coursework requirement for national credentials including the CDA, Director and Early Childhood Credentials.  CCEI, a Council for Professional Recognition CDA Gold Standard™ training provider, is nationally accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and is accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).