I have been toying around with the idea of constructing a sensory area in which children are able to experience different textures, shapes, forms at the same time as they can develop some fine motor skills. At first I thought about space…to us space is crucial since everything is so small and tight at times. For this reason real estate space has to be assigned to only activities and areas that are necessary or essential for learning. I thought about making sensory tables but our tables took a different purpose. Looking around I found that our cubbies are necessary but once everyone’s belongings are in them they do not serve additional purpose. I though a peg board sheet could stand against the cubbies and serve as additional wall space for pretty much anything we want. I went to Homedepot and it took me some walking around before I could find a peg board that was not gigantic, finally I found one that was 4′ x 2′. When it stands tall it fits against one of our cubbies but I needed 2 in order to create a wider wall. So now I needed construction strength Velcro, I like things to stay put firmly but with the option to be removed when no longer needed.
I was not sure what I was going to put up so I just gathered things I had laying around:
The first wall I made was just with latches and knobs, things children can turn, open and close, turn on and off. I also had 2 wooden boards with interactive figures attached to them. The bigger items I velcroed to the wall and the latches I screwed them onto the wall.
(Note: the screws stick to the back of the wall even though they are small, at first I did not worry about it because it is against the cubby and no one can get to them. Later I felt I should cover them so I simply cut some cardboard and placed it against the screws securing the cardboard with duct taped it in order to cover the exposed screw-ends, this way even when you carry the wall nobody will get scratched.)
Now I made a second wall with an old keyboard, push-on lights and I thought small kid-friendly fans would be a fun touch(amazon). I know for a fact that children love to push buttons, these walls should help relieve some stress while being fun.
I also added some magnifying glasses and color changing paddles. In order to have a real purpose for the magnifying glass I simply googled images of bugs and I printed them out. I taped them all over the wall so the children can go around looking for different bugs. For the color paddles I printed out coloring pages of things relevant to Winter or any season for that matter, now I showed the little ones how they change colors when you put the paddle over it.
Now… How do the children respond to this new and interesting thing?
They loved it, infants, toddlers and preschoolers love the wall and they all play in different ways. Infants tend to mouth the items while toddlers love to turn thing on and off constantly, preschool age children actually appreciate the magnifying glass and they pretend to type letters in the keyboard. The walls have been up for a week and so far and I feel they still have to find more ways to play and discover.
to start you really only need 2 things
- pegboard wall 4’x2′
- strong Velcro
- Find old light switches, knobs, latches, you can even stick magnet puzzles up on the wall or old phones, fun mirrors work as well