There are some early childhood themes that seem to resonate with almost every kiddo I’ve taught. Robots is definitely one of those themes. With that in mind, it’s always fun to come up with different hands-on, playful learning ideas around a specific theme. That’s how this robot sensory writing tray, and its accompanying number cards, came to be!
Materials for a Robot Sensory Writing Tray
Materials We Used
- Silver liquid watercolors
- Silver glitter
- Nuts, bolts, and washers
- Larger hex bolt
- Printable robot number cards
- Glass gems
- Pie pan
- Place the rice into a plastic bag or glass bowl. Add a few squirts of liquid watercolors, along with some glitter. Mix well. Add more if you want a deeper color. We just used a little bit, as we only wanted the rice to be a little grayish-silver.
- Spread the wet rice out on paper towels so they can dry. It didn’t take that long for ours to dry (I wandered off for about 30 minutes). Once it’s dried, the rice may be clumped together. Just break it apart and it should be good to go.
- Print out the robot number cards while you’re waiting for the rice to dry. I’d suggest laminating them for durability. We haven’t yet, as we wanted to get right into the number writing tray!
- Once the rice is ready, place a shallow layer in a pie pan (or another kind of tray). Add in some small nuts, bolts, and/or washers.
Number Writing Tray for a Preschool Robot Theme
How to Use the Robot Sensory Tray
There are a lot of different ways to use this tray with the kiddos. Of course, I think that’s why I like it so much. Lots of open-ended, fun learning possibilities. Here are just a few ideas, with a focus on early math skills . . .
Use a larger hex bolt as a “pencil” to write the numbers. We attached a number card to the pie pan by clipping a clothespin to the card. Then we placed the other end of the clothespin on the edge of the pan. Then grabbed a hex bolt and got to writing. Using a hex bolt is akin to using a stubby pencil. It helps children practice and develop their fine motor skills, pencil grasp, and hand strength.
Use your pointer finger to write numbers. Again, this works on fine motor skills alongside number identification and numeral writing. It has the added benefit of additional sensory stimulation via the sense of touch through the skin.
In case you’re wondering, it’s not going to be a perfect representation. The rice and other materials will settle back into whatever the kids write. That is just fine, as the point of the tray is to practice writing numerals. Just thought you should know, especially if you have any kids who want things to be just so.
Explore one-to-one correspondence with glass gems or bolts. Place the number card alongside the writing tray, on the side of it, or even in the robot rice. Use glass gems to represent robot “buttons” the kiddos can count out depending on the number card chosen. We went with red, as it stood out a lot better in comparison to the silver rice. We also used small washers and nuts on just silver rice (no additional nuts or bolts in it) to explore one-to-one correspondence.
Get the Printable Number Cards
The robot number cards are available to Fun-A-Day’s email community. Click the button below to join and receive even more early childhood resources in your inbox (and get the number cards as a gift)!
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Robot-Themed Preschool Lesson Plans
If you have some robot-lovin’ preschoolers, take a look at these plans for the preschool classroom and home preschool families. Each set has a week’s worth of lesson plans, full of hands-on learning activities about robots. There’s science, literacy, math, and more planned for the week, with ideas that kids can do in various grouping sizes. The plans also come with a book list, activity explanations, and printables that correspond with the hands-on plans.
Even More Robot Activities for Kids
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:
Name Puzzle Robot // Still Playing School
Robot Coloring Matching Clip Cards // Modern Preschool
Sensory Writing Tray with Robot Numbers // Fun-A-Day!
Beginning Blends Robot Puzzles // Mom Inspired Life
Robot Preposition Posters // Liz’s Early Learning Spot
Free Robot Bingo // Powerful Mothering
Robot Sums of Ten Puzzles // The Kindergarten Connection
Counting with Robots // Teach Me Mommy
Robot Subtraction Cards // The STEM Laboratory
Coverall Game // Recipe for Teaching
Robots CVC Word Puzzles // A Dab of Glue Will Do
Robot Reading Buddy // Play and Learn Every Day
Beginning Digraph Puzzles // Letters of Literacy
Robot Digraph Scratch // Adventures and Play
Rhyming Mats // Fairy Poppins
Robot Addition Cards // Playdough to Plato
Pattern Task Box Activities // My Creative Inclusion
Robot Beginning Sound Match // Sara J. Creations
Painting Brush Bot (Not Shown) // Schooling a Monkey