Winter tends to be a great time to explore snow, colder areas of the world, and animals that live in colder climates. To jump into a discussion about the arctic tundra, I put together a sensory writing tray for the preschool kiddos. It was a highly engaging activity, and we had some great discussions!
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arctic-themed sensory writing experience
While this sensory writing tray can be used for a variety of activities, these were my main objectives for the activity:
- Introduce the concept of arctic animals and the arctic tundra
- Reinforce left-to-right progression when writing
- Practice writing different shapes, lines, and letters
- Give the children a tactile sensory experience
- Get some conversations going about arctic animals and writing
I placed a small layer of kosher salt in a bamboo tray, with glass gems going into our favorite bamboo bowl. I have a huge stash of white card stock cut into 1 1/2-inch strips, so I grabbed some of those. I drew a few different designs on the strips, then set everything out on the table.
How we used the tray
The children were immediately interested in this new sensory writing tray! When asked what I was doing, I told the kiddos, “I’m setting up an arctic tundra tray for us to play and write in.” This led into a quick back-and-forth about the arctic tundra’s characteristics, as well as the different arctic animals I had on-hand.
I let the children freely explore the materials to start off with. This way, they were able to get a real feel for everything. It also gave me tons of time to chat with the children. Our conversation ran the gamut from Christmas presents to what snowflakes look like to the arctic tundra to caribou-versus-reindeer, etc. As we were talking, the children fully jumped into the materials. They scooped salt, dumped glass gems into the salt, told stories with the animals, and so on.
After the sensory exploration, we started getting into the mark-making aspect of the sensory writing tray. I placed the igloo at one end of the tray, with an animal opposite it. A card with a pattern written on it was placed along the top of the tray. We drew paths in the salt using the arctic animals – we had them walk, hop, and swim to the igloo at the other end. Sometimes we used the glass gems to mark the lines, as well. Of course, the kiddos created their own tracks and lines along the way too! Sometimes they used the animals, and other times they used their fingers.
Based on the children’s interests, we will definitely have the tray out for a few more days. I also talked with the children about creating a larger sensory bin using the materials next week.
This sensory writing tray could be used for a variety of other activities, too. Here are just a few:
- Write letters, names, and words in the salt
- Write numbers in the salt
- Write a number, and then add the correct amount of glass gems
How would you and your kiddos explore this sensory writing experience?
more tundra themed activities
Be sure to check out what the rest of the #TeachECE team has shared today:
Home-made Books: Tundra by Powerful Mothering
Arctic Animals Writing Prompts by The Educators’ Spin On It
Why Are Polar Bears White? | Animal Adaptations on the Arctic Tundra by Raising Lifelong Learners
Tundra Animal Sharing and Halving by Rainy Day Mum
Arctic Animal Matching Games by Life Over C’s
Arctic Animals Preschool Science: Blubber and Ice Explorations! By The Preschool Toolbox Blog
Arctic Preschool Letter Hunt by Learning 2 Walk
Polar Bear Sound Activity by Growing Book by Book