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Create Fun and Interesting Preschool Sensory Tubs - Touch, Feel, Learn!

written by: Rebecca Mayglothling • edited by: Sarah Malburg • updated: 9/11/2012

Grab some basic ideas, such as dried noodles and clean mud, which can be built upon or used as they are to give preschoolers the optimal sensory experience! Create sensory tubs for preschool classrooms with as much assistance from the students as possible.

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    Get the Sensation

    Sensory tubs are incredibly useful for today's inclusion classroom. Children of all ability levels are able to learn together, but the teacher needs to become a little more creative. Preschool sensory tub activities are a great interactive tool when children are given a choice regarding participation. Create your own preschool sensory tub ideas or use the ones listed here to allow the sensory sensitive children in your classroom to have new experiences.

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    Colored Noodles

    noodles Place noodles into large zip-top bags, then add liquid color such as a liquid paint found in craft stores. Close the zip-top bag and allow the children to shake the bags, mixing the color with the noodles. Encourage the children to gently shake, squeeze, and tip the bags to saturate every noodle. Empty the bags onto a flat piece of cardboard or art tray and allow the noodles to dry overnight. Use the colored noodles and small manipulatives to play hide-and-search games where children find objects in the noodles, or just allow children to dump and pour the noodles in the sensory tub.

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    Soap Bubbles

    Soap bubbles can be created in a sensory tub with a bit of experimentation. Liberally line the bottom of the tub with dish soap. Slowly add water and test the ability of the water and soap mixture to create bubbles. Too much water will ruin this project, and you will have to start over. When the mixture is correct, distribute bubble wands and let the children blow bubbles. When the bubble fun becomes boring, distribute cloth washcloths and let the children experiment with the washcloths in the tub. Moving the washcloths around the tub will create more bubbles, and cleanup is easy, involving only a quick rinse.

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    Springtime Sensory

    When the grass begins to show through the snow, gather a few clumps. Gather sticks, leaves, flowers if possible, and stones. Place the items in the table, and allow the children to explore these items. Talk about the differences in textures, smells, where the items are found in nature, and which animals use the items. Record the answers of the children for a literacy display. An alternative to this project is to ask parents if they have any natural items to supply. Perhaps one of your parents is a florist and can supply a large plant or flower. Perhaps you know a gardener who can supply you with potting soil. All these ingredients represent the natural world and the tub can be useful when transitioning between weather-based units.

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    Clean Mud

    paper roll 

    This sensory activity involves combining ordinary household objects in an unusual way. Fill the sensory tub with toilet paper. The kids really love to help with this step because they get to tear and unroll toilet paper. The amount of mud created is directly proportional to the amount of toilet paper used, so use a lot of paper. When the paper is shredded, add a few cups of shaved Ivory soap. Slowly add water while the children stir the mixture. The mud is ready for play when the paper is saturated and begins to make mushy balls in combination with the soap. Feel this mixture; it is a squishy, slushy version of dirt and water that will not leave the children filthy.

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    Ideas such as these for creating your own preschool sensory tubs are a springboard to help get your own ideas rolling. Before long, you will have many to choose from to coincide with a variety of activities which can be recycled year to year.

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