Sensory play…easy to make resources!

As you probably already know if you have read my blog for any length of time, I’m a teacher in a local authority school nursery and I love it! As far as jobs go, mine is pretty close to perfect. I have nearly 100 unique and and fantastic children, aged 3, 4 and 5, to work with along with my 6 amazing colleagues. But even the most perfect jobs can present a challenge or two.

It would not be professional for me to go into any details about the children that I work with so all I will say is that, like in any nursery, every child is a unique individual with his or her own needs and as a teacher it is my job to try and support every child in their development, whatever stage they are at. It is with this in mind that I have come to the conclusion that I need to provide a number of activities which are specifically sensory in nature. I am talking about play contexts which go beyond the sort we would normally have on offer in the nursery like in the sand and water trays or in the dough area. The sort of sensory play opportunities that much younger children often engage in and that would benefit some of the children who are not successfully accessing the play resources currently available.

I like to start a new challenge with a bit of research and so I embarked on an internet search to find some guidance on good sensory play. Whilst doing this I came across and absolutely amazing and invaluable resource – The Imagination Tree. If you have not already found and fallen in love with this inspiring and practical blog then I urge you to do so. Anna, who writes the blog, is a primary school teacher like me and shares her brilliant ideas so that early years educators can be motivated and encouraged to be as creative as they can in educating the very young. Here is the link to the blog:

It was here that I found a fantasic section on sensory play and found myself passing literally hours reading all the brilliant ideas that this lady has had. She inspired me to think specifically about the children I work with and to use the ‘sensory box’ ideas to create something which would meet the needs of the individuals in my class. And here is where I share my own work with you. My first attempt at a sensory play box!

Sensory Boxes Taped 2

The child I specifically had in mind had shown a fascination with hiding things, putting objects inside things and then ‘discovering’ them again. Given that it is Easter time, I came across these hollow eggs in Poundland and decided that they would be brilliant for the purpose of hiding little trinkets. The green shredded plastic came from poundland too and was perfect for hiding all the eggs inside. For all the little ‘treasures’ hidden inside I just raided the nursery resources and used all sorts of interesting things like shells, gems, buttons and counting peopel. Basically anything that would fit inside!

I shared this box with the child I planned it for and he loved it! It has worked really well and has stopped him from hiding the other nursery resources in places we couldn’t find them! He knows now that he will have special time with me near the end of the session to play with the box and explore everything inside. We are able to leave it the way he wants without having to move the objects back to where they came from whereas before this he would hide things that the other children wanted to play with and would then get very upset when they were moved. I am so delighted with this box that I indend to make more as and when they are needed by the children.

Do you have any good resources you use for sensory play? Have you found anything that has worked so well that you just want to shout all about it? Leave me a comment and let me know!



6 thoughts on “Sensory play…easy to make resources!

  1. I would have loved playing with a box like this when I was little! I always adored things that hid inside other things – little curio cabinets like Joseph Cornell’s and russian dolls. I love them even now. This kind of creative support must be immensely satisfying to come up with, especially when it proves so popular!

    • Creating resources is one of my favourite parts of teaching. It’s so satisfying to know that you have the knowledge and skills to make somthing that helps children learn and develop. I am loving the sensory box idea and just wish I had thought of it myself! Haha! Young children work through a whole range of ‘schema’ where they explore repetitive actions so the possibilities for boxes like this are almost endless!!

  2. Jill- have you any ideas for helping a nearly three yr old with learning to write? The boys didn’t go through this but she wants to write! have bought her a wipe clean book which gets her to do things like drawing lines, shapes etc over the top of dotted lines just wondered if you’ve seen anything / used anything that would be good, Lorna

    • Where to start Lorna? There are so many brilliant ideas. Try putting different ‘liquidy’ materials in flat trays to write in with fingers (shaving foam, gloop, neat washing -up liquid, dry sand, jelly etc.) If you prefer something less mess then try putting those types of things in zip-loc bags. The children love writing on top and watching the liquid being squished around. Also, use a whole variety of different kinds of writing materials. Try ball pens, gel pens, fat pencils, thin pencils, curly pencils, paint brushes with paint, crayons, chalk, pastels and anything else you can think of. Talk about books regularly and look at the text and writing. Make your own books and talk about the direction of print. Make lists and encourage any kind of scribbles. Circle motions (anti-clockwise) are a good place to start. Any kind of handwriting patterns (continuous wavy lines) that go from left to right are also brilliant and uou can do things like decorate Easter eggs and things to use the patterns. My final tip would be to encourage writing anywhere, especially outside. Write in the snow, in sand, in mud, with chalk on slabs/walls and use things like leaves and sticks to make letter shapes. On websites like Sparklebox and Twinkl you will find lots and lots of emergent writing resources. They have good play dough mats for helping learn letter formation. Hope some of that helps. I could probably think if lots more things if you still want more ideas. The main thing is to make it fun and practise as much or as little as your wee one wants!

      • fab, thanks, have downloaded some play doh mats. Those sites are great she’s into playing shops and they have some great bits and pieces 🙂

      • Glad I was able to help. I love all the resources and ideas on Sparklebox. It’s a brilliant resource. Hope your little one is getting on great 🙂

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