Here’s a quick way to create a new art medium. In a jar or baggie, pour in enough regular, table-grade salt to equal the amount of total colored salt you want to end up with. About a teaspoon at a time, add tempera paint powder. (If you don’t have paint powder, and you’re in a crunch for time, just smash a small piece of colored chalk into powder. My prefered method is to put the piece in a plastic baggie and stomp on it.) Mix the salt and color together thoroughly. Voila! You have colored salt! I use this several ways. Pour some in a cookie sheet or art tray and let children write in the salt with their fingers (for this, you really want to be scant with the paint powder to reduce the mess factor). As you can see in the picture, I put some in baby food jars, poked a few holes in the lids and glued them on. (Those of you who get ideas more than 5 minutes before you need them, could actually go to the store and buy cheap salt shakers, or even collect old spice bottles as you use them up.) I’ve seen these colored salt shakers used to shake onto glue pictures at the art table and into shaving cream at the sensory table. I’ve even reconstituted the tempera paint with salt to create a new texture. The kids really like the bumpy look and feel of their salty paintings! End up with some colored salt that you don’t need anymore? Use it to make playdough and you don’t have to add any color! No wonder salt was once used as money in ancient times. It really is versatile and fun stuff!
Here’s a great fingerplay for a snowy day:
(Holding out five fingers.)
2 cups flour
In many preschool rooms, the sensory table is often surrounded by children. It is an inviting area of the room where children are encouraged to stick their hands into the medium of the day, be it water, colored rice, or even slime! Children gleefully run their fingers through a new texture, scooping and dumping to their hearts’ delight, all the while using vocabulary words like, mushy, gritty, or runny. They naturally compare volumes and textures, diameters and temperatures as they engage in their play. Flow patterns are observed, compared, and manipulated as children pour water down tubes and rain gutters, and cause and effect is constantly tested. The sensory table is a melting pot of a variety of developmental objectives while also being so completely fun and engaging! Sensory tables designed for and sold to schools easily run into the hundreds of dollars. Parents and teachers in smaller preschools are often left feeling like the sensory table is an experience reserved only for large institutions. That does not have to be the case! Here are a few ways to put the sensory table in reach of every child’s hands.
This fantastically fun read is by one of my favorite authors, Robert Munsch. He began as a storyteller who always knew how to get and keep a child’s attention, and was later convinced to put his stories into print. This silly tale follows a little boy through his mischief as he makes pretend cookies out of playdough and serves them to his unsuspecting family and friends. It’s sure to grab the interest young children as they join in the repetitive text and absorb the outrageous illustrations of the characters’ outlandish reactions to eating playdough.
Each time Christopher makes a new cookie, this book implements a fantastic use of onomatopoeia with a repetitive text that just begs for kids to join in. Here’s how I do it (words in italics from the text):
Many parents and teachers are reluctant to engage their children in sensory play. It’s easy to see the reason for their hesitation when you envision what could happen when you combine preschoolers or toddlers with a thousand grains of rice! The key to sensory play is two-fold: recognize that there will be somemess, but also set limits and boundaries to keep it within a range you can live with. Here are some tips for setting appopriate boundaries with sensory play.
(I first have to apologize for the black spot in these photos. My camera seems to have developed a cataract of some sort, but it’s actually already been resolved, thanks to a warranty and a husband who is a master at getting customer service.)