Exploring spring sensory play with preschoolers

When I fill a sensory table, I usually have everything already in it that I think the children would like to play with but today, I just set out set out different items for Tristan to choose from…

I set out a basket of rocks, some colorful green rice, a pile  of plastic bugs, paint brushes, plastic laundry lids (for cups), and a set of scales…

Tristan poured the rice in the sensory table first…

Then Tristan chose one bug from the pile and some paint brushes to add to the table….

For the longest time, Tristan simply covered the bug up completely with rice then used the paint brush to brush the rice off of the bug….

When Tristan wasn’t covering up the bug he just sat and ran the rice through his fingers or sprinkled the rice around the bug…

Sensory play can be a very relaxing or soothing experience if you have the right combinations of items available. I think rice is very soothing to run your fingers through.

After Tristan played a bit, he got tired of standing and asked if he could go get a chair. I suggested we just place the sensory table (bin) on the floor and Tristan was happy with this idea…

Later, Tristan decided to add the rocks, one laundry cup, and the scales to the sensory table too…


Tristan’s play graduated naturally from focusing on the feel and texture of the rice, to exploring the bugs, to exploring the rocks and scales. In all, I think Tristan played for about an hour while I worked on preparing my boxes for Friday’s post.  I know it looks like I just stood there taking photos the whole time, but because Tristan’s play was so deliberate and he stayed there so long, I was able to go back and forth during that time and get photos along the way…

Other links for sensory..

Colorful Rice you can make

Simple Sensory Table

The value of scooping and pouring..

Rocks and a Scale from Brick by Brick

And check out this sensory post I wrote

By |2011-05-05T00:44:44+00:00May 5th, 2011|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Laral May 5, 2011 at 1:54 am - Reply

    I want to go to preschool after reading this!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. May 5, 2011 at 7:54 pm - Reply

      Haha Laura:)

  2. Scott May 5, 2011 at 8:47 am - Reply

    That rice is really a bright color! And I think I relaxed just thinking about rice running through my fingers.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. May 5, 2011 at 7:53 pm - Reply

      He made it look so relaxing that before I put it all away, I sat and ran my hands through the rice a few times too:)

  3. abbie May 5, 2011 at 10:27 am - Reply

    The green rice looks just like duck weed that grows on ponds in the early spring! Love the idea of covering the bugs with it and then brushing them off; sounds soothing to me too!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. May 5, 2011 at 7:53 pm - Reply

      I was surprised how much he really liked just sitting and brushing off the rice. He was so relaxed and focused..

  4. KM May 5, 2011 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    I am with Laral above… I want to go back to preschool so I can play like this! Nice thing about being a grown up kid…. We don’t have to give an excuse for Any kind of creative play! I love the green and the bugs!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. May 5, 2011 at 7:52 pm - Reply

      Thank you Katherine:) I like being a grown up kid too:)

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