It Not "Just Recess" Anymore!

Teachers often heave a sigh of relief when they take their students out to recess. Finally! The children can burn off the pent up energy they had been accruing for the past few hours indoors. But what if we change our outlook on outdoor play time? What if we create an outdoor environment that offered all of the learning opportunities that one would typically find indoors? What if children could run out to a well-planned play yard to find experiences in math, science, nature, dramatic play, water, building and construction, sensory activities, physical development, art and music? What if they play yard developed critical thinking, discovery, problem solving, and cooperative skills? The result would be that we wouldn't have "just recess" anymore. We would have The Outdoor Classroom!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sensory Bin with a Hole-y Top

First, let me apologize for the very extended break I took from my blog. I am ashamed! Although, I do have an excuse...

Meet my new Cinnamon Conure :-). We bought him nearly weaned, so we were rather preoccupied with feeding, snuggling, and admiring our new little creature! His name is Candy Apple. Isn't he cute???

BUT, back to business! Once again, I have 'borrowed' one of Tom's sensory bin ideas from his blog at Sand and Water Tables. He has a great explanation as to why this apparatus is valuable for learning and he even shows a few videos of the children in action. I am working towards getting a wooden table-top, but in the meantime, I rigged up this cardboard top to see if the wooden top would be a good investment. After watching the children scoop, dig, pour, balance, and maneuver their scooping tools, I have no doubt that that the investment would be well worth it!

This was truly one of those activities that engaged the children for LONG periods of time. Today, two boys worked steadily at the station for over half an hour! 

This table top was very easy to make. I laid down three sheets of cardboard, measured and cut them to the size of the sensory table, and then sealed the edges with red duct tape. I used a box cutter to cut through each layer of the cardboard. Then, I taped along the edges of the holes. I scored the tape so it would go around the circles without crumpling up. For stability, I taped the table-top to the sensory bin.

Reaching into the table through the holes was a new experience and caused the children to think about how they were going to pull the beans and corn out without spilling.

As with any sensory activity, there is always some clean up. These boys enjoyed using the brooms as much as they enjoyed using the new table top!


  1. Fab! Now this I will have to try.

  2. Looks very adaptable! We will be trying this soon! Thanks for posting!

  3. I was thinking about you. I love this idea and hope to make it soon! I did make your snowball target practice and the kids love it! ~April

  4. Kristin, nice adaptation. I really like the last two pictures. The one shows how the platform allows children to operate without having to hold things. They set things up and fill them up. The last picture really shows that children can help be a responsible part of the inevitable cleanup. Thanks for the mention. Tom

    1. Thanks, Tom. The children LOVED having a table top for their cups and measures. In that photo, two children had created an entire "birthday" party for another child. This really was a great idea. Of course, now I've been eyeing your multiple bin apparatus. I can't imagine how much duct tape you go through in a year! Lol!