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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why Sensory Bins?

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You’ve probably heard the term Montessori at some point or another. There are Montessori schools, catalogs, toys, etc. These things are all based on the ideas of Maria Montessori. Montessori was an Italian physician and educator who lived from 1870-1952. She was intrigued with trying to educate children with special needs and was successful doing so. She stressed quality over quantity, teacher showing correct way first to not waste time, and self-paced learning. Montessori schools now-a-days are known for: mixed age classrooms, student choice of activity (within a range of options), child-size furnishings, and specialized educational materials developed by Montessori and her collaborators
Characteristics of Birth –6 years
  • Ease of absorbing sensory stimulation (Sensory Bins!)
  • Ease of absorbing language (Start that 2nd language now!)
  • Need for Order (from 3 years)
  • Interest in small objects (18 months+)
  • Ability to concentrate & enjoy learning (3+ years)
Why so much about the senses?
Every experience taken in by the five senses helps build the connections that guide development. No two brains are alike because our experiences are all different. Each child develops individual pathways to deal with his or her experiences. These brain pathways are what are going to shape their ‘brain architecture.’ Studies show that these multi-sensory activities will help your child learn to read, write, use mathematics, and develop critical thinking skills at young ages in a very natural, unforced way. These skills are the byproducts of strong brain development and learning to focus attention.
Sensory Experiences
Any new experiences is going to help build your child’s brain pathways because they are experiencing something new & their brains have to interpret the material. So basically it comes down to – do something! Expose your kids to a large variety of things.
  • Take them to the park
  • Take them camping (see the dark night & stars, smell the campfire, feel the brisk morning, Taste smores, etc.)
  • Take them animal watching (see how they move, smell their environment, feel the leaves/dirt/rocks/feathers, etc.)
  • Take a vacation (LOTS of new sensory!)
  • Go to the ocean (See/hear/smell/taste the ocean)
  • Go on an airplane (see/hear/smell/experience airplane & helps kids conceptualize flying)
  • Go on a boat (see/hear/feel breeze/smell water)
  • Ride a train (Hear the whistle, feel the movement, listen to the clickety-clack of the train & tracks)
  • Go to a museum (see things that may not be nearby or that don’t exist anymore)
  • Go to different parks (experience lots of different parks!)
  • Go Swimming
  • Play in water table
  • Play in a sand box
  • Sensory boxes (I think these started in schools because teachers realized the need for this sensory stimulation, but were unable to take all their students to stimulating places all the time. Sensory bins are not inherently a Montessori thing, but they use a lot of the same principles.)
Make your Own Sensory Box
You can make a sensory box from just about anything.
  1. Find a bin that will hold the stuff you are putting in it & has room for the kids to move the stuff around without making a mess.
  2. Figure out what your main material will be: rice, beans, sand, pasta, grass, shredded paper, cotton balls, water, etc.
  3. Figure out your theme: fall, winter, color, farm, etc.
  4. Add theme items (animal figures, candles (not to burn), orange peels, letters, pom poms, felt, sand paper, beads, fake leaves, stickers, bell, rocks, empty spice jars that still smell, scented pine cones, tree bark, flower, fabric with distinctive texture, plastic Easter eggs, etc.)
  5. Put in some measuring spoons, jars (glass make a cool sound – more sensory), cups to sort things, tweezers, etc.
  6. TADA! Enjoy watching your kids laugh, have fun, and develop their brains!
Get Ideas!
I am in the process of making a Sensory Box page filled with ideas you can copy or use as a springboard! To get you started…. here are a couple ideas:
Sensory Activity - Jello with gummies inside          Trace letters in Sand          Moon Dust Sensory Box with Moon figures


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