Kindergarten Lunch Box Ideas!
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Teachers are always contacting me and asking how to make activities more engaging and fun. Sensory tables are an easy way to accomplish differentiating by interest and learning profile. You can use all different kinds of colorful fillers with different textures and even smells. Throw an otherwise boring sorting activity into a sensory table or just a simple low-sided tote and you have a station that is instantly a classroom favorite.
Of course, you always need to be mindful of allergies when considering sensory table fillers. I usually send a quick note home in my weekly newsletter to give parents a heads up for the next months filler items just to make sure everyone is safe. SEPTEMBER At the beginning of the school year, I like to use a filler that is easy to clean up and super enticing. My students can’t wait to get their little fingers in a tub of brightly colored pasta in every shape and size imaginable. OCTOBER What an amazing month to use sensory tables with your word work and math station activities. There are so many colors you can use and fun fillers to engage and hook your students.
My students loved playing with these thematic rhyming cards in this bin. Whenever I can find seasonal buttons . I also like to either put them in a small bin or add them to another filler to make it even more interesting. If you look for these seasonal items after the holiday, you can usually get a ton of them for super cheap. Of course, taking things from nature is always a great idea. Yes, it’s thematic which is all good and dandy, but it also connects to those kids who are naturalist.
Acorns are always plentiful in my part of the world in the fall. Some people freak out and think that you’ll get bugs or mold if you use natural products, but I’ve never had that problem. I collect my acorns and place them in a large plastic bag for a couple of days in my freezer. NOVEMBER November is usually the first month I bring out rice. Rice is easy to dye, and you can mix some great fall colors together or select just one. Rice can be a bit messier than pasta or larger filler items, so I like to wait until I know my students have the cleaning routine down before I introduce it. Dried beans also offer great variety in texture and color and my kinders tell me they like the way they feel.
A great way to get your hands on some of these filler products, including beans, is to put a request out to your parents. Parents, even in the poorest communities, want to help their child’s class with items they may need. A bag of rice or beans doesn’t have to be expensive, and I always find I can count on getting enough to fill my bins. When I’m done with my pumpkins in October, I often replace them with dried ears of corn. I do when I’m done’ activity. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better fine motor activity than shucking corn. And quite honestly, it’s a bit addicting.
My kinders are always in such deep concentration when they do it. DECEMBER You might be seeing a pattern here. I love using natural products whenever I can. There is such a huge variety of pine trees in Northern Michigan that I am never in short supply. I can add in pine cones and seasonal erasers and manipulatives to make it even that much more festive.
Flies with Wheels
And when my students are done with the sensory table task, I give them scissors to cut the boughs up. Again, another great fine motor activity, and it makes my room smell amazing. Fun colorful and seasonal shredded paper can also be an easy filler for tens frame matching activities. I added small ornaments with numbers printed on them for a second game that students could play. JANUARY The month of snow and cold in Michigan, I use simple and easy white rice in my sensory table.
The critters stay in a separate bin until the activity has been successfully completed. Then students are welcome to pull out he critters to retell stories and role play from our study of the Polar Regions. FEBRUARY I love sensory tables in February because the colors are so fabulous. Here students matched base ten units to their numbers. Pink rice with seasonal beads and trinkets work great in smaller, movable bins that I use for morning work like this I-Spy Sight Words station. Patrick’s Day so it’s not surprising that I try to add a little magic to this months sensory bin activities. First of all, everything is more fun in a fun container, right?
A cauldron is absolutely necessary to hold your leprechaun’s . You can dye them all sorts of colors or, in this case, spray paint them gold. These gold nuggets are a HIT and so engaging. I use this pot over and over again throughout the month. And in my big table, I have pasta in all shades of green. APRIL April is all about Easter and Bugs in my class.
The simplest filler for this time of year is Easter grass! I don’t like the plastic kind of grass. It sticks to everything, but if you get the shredded paper kind of grass, it works great. You can even add your word work and math station activities to it easily . I also like to add some little buggy critters to make it even more interesting. In the FREEBIE below, students match up the rhyming bugs.
Teaching Children Good Sporting Behavior
You can grab this activity for FREE by clicking HERE. MAY Dinosaurs invade my classroom in May. I have one sensory table that is dedicated to digging up dinosaurs from plaster paris rocks, but for my literacy and math stations, I like to use this Crayola Blue sand. It looks great against my nonsense word dino bones! If you don’t have a box of bog biscuits to paint laying around. It’s not so difficult to find easy fillers for your sensory bins. Remember that it’s ok to ask parents to donate a box of pasta or bag of beans here and there.
Most families would love to help in such a simple way. And if you want to see even more ideas for sensory play, check out my Pinterest board by clicking below. Make sure you follow me so that you can see all the latest and greatest sensory ideas. And if you’d like to see more of the activities included in the picture above you can just visit my store HERE. I’d love to hear what easy items you have in your sensory bins. So drop me a line and share your ideas in the comments below.
And in case you didn’t know, there’s a big sale going on. Bountiful blessings of beans and more! Subscribe via Email Sign up to receive the latest news delivered to your inbox. I love love love your sensory table fillers.
My question is, do you throw away the filler after you use it and how do you dye your pasta? I keep my pasta and rice fillers for more than one year . My kids use sanitizer before and after using the bins and there is a lot of alcohol in the dye so I think it lasts a little longer than you would expect. How do you dye your pasta! 4 cup rubbing alcohol in a ziploc freezer bag full of pasta or rice and a bunch of dye.
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I am definitely going to be adding sensory bins to my classroom this year! However I have steered away from using food in my sensory table especially when so many families need food to eat. I’m a first year prek teacher and I was looking for ideas for my sensory table. What do you use to dye the chickpeas gold?
I’m sure my little ones would love that! I do not have a sensory table in my room, but would like to make a sensory center. I was wondering what you thought of using a Rubbermaid container? How much filler do you usually need?
How many students at this center? I have several rubbermaid sensory tubs. I only let 2 students attend on rubbermaid bin at a time though to control how many hands are in it at one time. I do have a few games where 4 students will play at the same time, but it’s usually a game and they understand that only one set of hands go in the tub at a time. I tried to use the coupon code and it wouldn’t work. Is there another one that might work instead? I just got a sensory table in my classroom and I am super excited about it!
Thank you for all of these great ideas! I am thinking I might cut up pieces of Christmas tree garland and put that in the table with a write the room center I already have. I saw an earlier question about saving the sensory materials year to year and wonder what you store them in? Do you just have many different bins and you rotate those, or do you put the rice, pasta, etc in something else to save? Love this and can’t wait to start! Mostly in ziplocs and then in larger bins which I store in my class under my tables that have the rag skirts. The sensory table was one of my favorite things in my classroom when I taught preschool but when I began my current kindergarten job, I put it out of my mind until I started reading your blog.
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Now my passion for it is renewed! One of my favorite things to put in it in the summer months in Colorado was any natural things I could find on my lunch hour walks. I wish alot of them did not use food. We need to be careful to not use food, especially rice, beans, and pasta that are staples for some families. I would like to see us become more creative with non food items. Notify me of follow-up comments by email.
Notify me of new posts by email. April Morning Work Stations are here! Swipe to see just a few of the 43 activities included. How did she find the perfect spot to rest her head? He was up and walking day two and continues to look stronger everyday.
All nerve blocks and drains are out. He doesn’t really complain of any pain, but wasn’t really happy when they removed the tape that was on his stomach. Who knew that bellybuttons had so much hair and that removing tape would be the most painful part of amputation? We should be able to bust outta here tomorrow. It’s a beautiful morning in Gainesville. His attitude is bright and cheerful.
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Disclosure Information Can Be Found HERE. Differentiated Kindergarten is a participant in Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn fees by advertising and linking to amazon. So fun and, yet somehow, so hard to wrap your head around. When I first started contemplating math stations, it was shortly after reading Debbie Diller’sfabulous Math Work Stations. There was so much great information in there, but I knew that, ultimately, it had to work with the room-size I had inherited and the number of kids-versus-adults that I would have using them. Basically, there was a 1:26 ratio that first year, but after thinking on it and tweaking it and shaping it, it has become a well oiled engine of learning and SO MUCH FUN.
So even though some of you have heard it all before from me, I am constantly tweaking my stations a bit here and there. This is the set-up I have used for the last several years, and it works great for me. By the way, this year I’d like to tweak my set-up with a couple of those cutesy light blue pocket charts I’m seeing from Target. So if you’re there, leave a couple for me will ya. We don’t have a Target in my home town, so I can’t just run out and pick them up. I use a base of nine different stations that a student will rotate through twice before I change them.
We go to two stations each day that we have math stations, and the stations last about 15-20 minutes. Now, depending on the schedule I’m dealt at the beginning of the year, students get to use stations a minimum of three times a week but ideally four to five. Materials are, of course, housed in the nine drawers which are labeled 1-9. Above are the pocket charts that hold student names and the corresponding numbers that will move down as students move through the stations.
When I have students there are names on them. I can change them quickly if needed. The color of a student’s name tag represents the materials that they will use with in each drawer. You do not necessarily always have the same colored tags within the same group. I’ll show you why in a second. Students with a green name tag would use the materials labeled with a green dot, or bit of green washi tape.
Here’s the important thing to note, within a given drawer students all are completing the same activity, let’s say write the room, but the task is tiered so that it is geared to their readiness level. One group might be writing the room for addition 1-5, another for addition 1-10 and another 1-15. Well, then let’s move onto the next obvious question, HOW do I get to the differentiating part. Ok, so first of all, you can differentiate by addressing your students interests, learning profiles or readiness. Take a look at this flowchart . It goes through the different steps I take when tiering an activity to response to my students’ readiness levels.
And here’s an example of how an actual lesson would look if I wrote each of these flowcharts out. Of course I don’t do that. That would be impractical, but I do have a lesson plan template that lets me indicate to my principal what each station activity is, what standard it addresses and how it is tiered, if it is tiered. Here is what you need to know about starting math stations will little friends. They just got dropped off from Pre-K folks. So while you’re establishing those first math stations, your goals should be to let them become familiar with the routines and expectations of what goes on in math stations and to start to explore the different kinds of materials that you will be using.