I see them all over Pinterest, and also on one of my favorite blogs - Rubber Boots and Elf Shoes. Sandi is a master at sensory boxes! Just look at this magnificent bead bin!
And I want them too! I just suffer from feelings like- "I have to make that academic to have in second grade." But maybe that's not true. But it puts me in a cold sweat, let me tell you. But then this past Spring when I had my kids plant bean seeds- do you know what they wanted to do all day long? Stir dirt with their hands! And they were quiet and totally mesmerized (they are from the city- so maybe dirt is just that much of a novelty)! So I realized I really really had to give sensory bins a go.
So here is my first one:
It's relatively simple. Partly because I'm using a shallow container- my favorite sort of organizer.
I bought three bags of decorative sand and two bags of the colored stones at the dollar store. And then I got a basket of shells from Michaels. As far as the sensory experience goes, I feel like they will enjoy moving the sand- they can even use the scallop shells as "scoops", and there is a nice difference of shells that are bumpy and smooth and then the smooth cold stones. And, it turns out, the entire contents fits very nicely in a gallon zip lock bag so that there won't be any spillage during storage.
I think I'd really like to add in a dried star fish - or even rubber fish... somehow, I feel like it needs at least one more thing- but I don't want to over do it.
Now- for adding in the academic part:
1. I thought they could use this as a fine motor activity for practicing sight words and handwriting by using the pointed shell that makes me think of a unicorn horn as a writing instrument.
2. I thought I could have them create Quick Tens math representations with the pieces and take pictures of them with the iPods to use in a slideshow project.
3. Vocabulary exercises in writing down all the words they could think of to describe the items in the box- and then using those words in writing sentences.
4. A science connection by providing shell identification books and having them look up the shells that are in the box to learn more about them.
Annnnnnd then I also made up this:
5. Use it for an Orientation day activity.
The parents come in a few days before school begin to meet me and bring their children to see that classroom. I always end up with people milling around waiting for one-on-one time. last year I was getting rid of extra books- and having them available for the kids to look through and choose helped out tremendously. So then I was playing around with this box and started to think about buried treasure.
And then I thought about QR codes and the types of questions I ask them at the beginning of the year to find out a little about them. So I put all that together and made this:
I thought up 16 questions that I would want to know the answer to, and put them in task card form. And then I also turned those task cards into QR codes, printed them on sticky label paper and then put them on the back of my smooth stones. Voila!
The stones end up buried in the sand, and when the kids come across them, they scan it with an iPod I leave at the station and the task card tells them what information to put in which numbered box on a recording sheet.
An extremely basic sheet- I know- but I want to blow it up big on the poster machine to hang near the sensory box, so that all my kids write their answers in the boxes. So, not only will they have an individual recording page that I can collect- but I can also have a class poster where we can notice similarities between ourselves and our classmates.
I'm pretty excited. I can't wait to try it out! I just need to decide if I'm going to put clear nail polish or modge podge over top of the Qr code to make it permanent on the stone. I figure that I can keep this box out as a center activity for a week or two, and then create a new one.
As always- first three to comment that they would like to try it out with their kids can have the task cards for free. Just make sure you leave me your email address! It also helps to make sure you aren't a no-reply blogger...
The pack comes with the task cards in color and black and white- and I even have them blank so you can write in your own questions on them if you want to add to my sixteen thoughts. And the QR codes for my sixteen questions are already done and in the pack too- if you want to try that as well. The pack is available at our Tpt store.
Don't forget to link up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for your Monday Made It!
Do you use sensory boxes? How about Qr codes?