I read about sensory trays on The Imagination Tree and decided to try it out with the boys. First, I colored some salt using Wilton food coloring (a lovely aqua shade). I kept a tray ready for the boys for when they got home from school. In the tray i kept a paint brush as well as a blunt pencil in case they wanted to use tools to write and not their fingers. I wrote S and N in the salt and kept a few alphabets there for reference. Keeping in ming that Amu (now a little over 2yrs) was probably going to wreck the tray in an instant, I also kept another small baking tin for him with some blue salt, pompoms, a tea strainer (tongs) and my pasta tongs. In addition I kept little plastic cups of different colors and sizes in case he felt like sorting the pompoms.
The boys reaction was great…they were super excited and got to the tray as soon as they walked in. However (and thank goodness I had my plastic sheet spread out under the trays and for them to sit on), they were so excited that they did not use the tray to write in at all…they played with the salt, enjoying the texture, drew a little in it, passed it through the strainer, poured it in and out of the different colored cups…added pompoms to the salt in the tray, tried picking the pompoms up with the pasta tongs as well as using clothes pegs. All in all they had a blast though they really did not use the sensory tray for writing like I had intended.
The next day, I set it up again for them (i had collected the salt and saved it in a jar so we can reuse it multiple times and it is not wasteful). This time round, the reaction was quite different. Amu got to work with his pompoms…but theis time round he was busy sorting the baby pompoms, the medium ones and the ‘giant’ pompoms. He did this using his hands, a spoon, chopsticks (one in each hand and very unsuccessfully) and the tongs.
Nish and Sid on the other hand actually tried their hand at writing in the salt tray. So i guess the second time round was a lot more in control and manageable. But i guess they needed that free exploration on the first day to really understand the different possibilities the tray offered.
Going to use this again in a few days because I think they seem to enjoy it…it is tied into various skills…fine motor, sensory exploration, sorting, sequencing, letter recognition, copying, etc.