Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Exploring with Sensory Tables for Outdoor Play

Wonder how to entertain toddlers while outdoors besides the everyday equipment like the swing or slide?

Now that Spring weather is inviting us to enjoy the outdoors more, engage with your toddler while exploring with his senses and imagination with outdoor play. 
Sensory tables have become popular
for toddlers to explore their senses. I have made my own with PVC piping and storage bins. However, you can order these online through various educational websites like:
Kaplan Early Learning @
Discount School Supply @

You can search online under educational materials or catalog for educational toys.

They come in different sizes. I switch out different items for the toddlers to explore with. The idea is to provide enough items into the sensory table so they could explore by scooping, pouring, and digging. I supply a small bucket, a couple of play shovels, cups, a play rake to add to the fun of exploring. The different sensory items I have used are:
·         white rice (the little ones like to call it snow)
·         mixture of dry beans (kidney/pinto/corn/peas)
·         regular sand
·         coffee sand (see recipe below)

Coffee Sand recipe:
4 c. dried used coffee grounds
2 c. cornmeal
1 c. flour
1/2 c. salt

I dried the used coffee grounds by spreading a thin layer on cookie sheets. Once the coffee grounds are dry, I mix the remaining ingredients together. I keep it in a covered container when not in use.

CAUTION NOTE: It’s very important to sit and watch over the sensory table while the little ones are playing. Make sure they are not putting anything in their mouths, eyes, or flipping the sensory table items up into the playmate’s faces. This is a good opportunity to teach the little ones about safety, manners and space while sharing. I usually bring out one sensory table for the day.

Iva is an author of Precious Years Leaps & Bounds. You can find more information in her book relating to the topic on activities for outdoors.

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