Preschool sand and water centers are one of the most fun and engaging parts of preschool. They are also extremely beneficial to your preschoolers. When your preschoolers are engaging in sensory play they are able to work on skills from each developmental domain. Here is how to set up your preschool sand and water center to best help foster those skills.
PICK A SPOT
The first thing that you need to do before setting up your sand and water preschool center is to decide where the best placement in your classroom is. It is best not to have it on carpet, because that will make it very difficult for clean up. Also, you need to consider the amount of space a sand and water center requires. Although it may seem like you just need enough space for the sensory table itself, it is best to ensure ample space in case of splashing and spills. You also have to consider how and where you will store all of the sensory center accessories.
PICK A SENSORY TABLE
There are many different sensory tables out there to choose from. Some that are designed specifically for water, and some that are a bit more versatile. Here are a few tips for picking a great sensory table.
- The right height for your preschoolers
- Has a drain
- Has a cover (even better if it snaps on securely)
- Flat smooth surface that is easy to clean
- Clear tub (just because it is fun!)
- Multiple children can play at the same time
- Make sure it has good depth (at least 6″)
MAKE IT EASY TO CLEAN
The last thing that you want is sand all over your classroom, or a big puddle of water making the floor slippery and unsafe. Use a sensory mat under the table to avoid any falls and to make clean up a breeze. When your preschoolers are finished playing, just pick up the mat and pour any sand or other waste into the trash. If it is very wet, soak it up with a mop or towel and then hang to dry completely.
In order to keep your sand and water center clean, it must be organized. Store the sensory accessories in a clear plastic bin that is easily accessible. If you can organize the accessories within the storage bin, that is even better. You can group similar type of toys together. For example, scoops can all be grouped together in a zip lock bag, and funnels in another bag.
DON’T LIMIT IT TO SAND AND WATER
Sensory play is a wonderful way to build fine motor skills in young children. It is also great for encouraging social, emotional, and language skills as well. To foster these skills even further be sure not to limit your preschoolers sensory experiences to just sand and water. Here is a list of other fun sensory mediums to let your preschoolers explore.
- Black beans
- Dried corn
- Flax seed
- Kinetic sand
- Goop (water and cornstarch)
Of course, how you set up your preschool sand and water center needs to be clean and organized, but also safe. Use caution when selecting your sensory materials if you have any preschoolers in your class that still put things in their mouths. The possibilities are endless with sensory play. You just have to use your imagination, and you will be able to foster an active imagination in your preschoolers, too.