Activities which encourage preschoolers to learn about using their senses are always lots of fun. We teamed up our sensory flashcards from the Educational Flashcards Explorer Set with a fun materials tray to explore. So much play and learning happened!
What You Need
Gather up a fun selection of materials from your art supply boxes and kitchen cupboards. The materials really don't need to be fancy, just everyday items with a good mixture of textures and colors. Try to include a few which will make a noise when crumpled. We included metallic pipe cleaners, tissue paper squares, wooden pegs, pom poms, tin foil, and feathers. We put all of our supplies in a chip & dip tray and then placed the five senses flashcards in the middle compartment.
Exploring the Tray
The purpose of this activity is to simply encourage your preschooler to use their senses to explore the materials on the tray. It can be tempting to try and lead the play and exploration, but it can be far more beneficial to allow your child to explore independently at first. Let them choose which materials to pick up and what to do with them. Our preschooler went straight for the tin foil pieces and was fascinated by the shimmery surface. She also enjoyed crumpling the pieces up into tin foil balls.
As all the materials were being explored, we used the senses flashcards to learn more about each sense. We came up with more examples for each sense and worked together to describe the materials using each of our senses (with the exception of taste, that one wasn't quite so relevant for this activity!).
Once all of the materials had been touched, smelt, listened to and looked at, our little preschooler decided that she wanted to use them to make a craft. She got some glue, tape and scissors and got to work creating a sensory collage. Sometimes activities take an unexpected turn and your little one might choose to use the materials in a different way. That's never a problem, embrace the creativity and simply adapt the set up. There was still so much discussion about what the materials looked like, felt like and sounded like as she stuck them onto her collage. How would your kids choose to explore a sensory tray like this?