Saturday, July 28, 2012

In Praise Of The Outdoor Sensory Table

I hadn't planned on using the new outdoor sensory table every day. I mean, we have a huge, two-level sand pit, year-round water and mud play in the form of a hand pump and Seattle's famous rain puddles, a worm/compost bin, not to mention that it's the outside, you know, the biggest sensory table of all: leaves and trees and grasses and air of different temperatures. No, I'd wrestled our big, heavy wood and galvanized steel table down the hallway and through several narrow doorways into the outdoor classroom, and back, a handful of times last year, and talked myself out of doing it perhaps a dozen times more, due to the fact that it was a big, heavy wood and galvanized steel table. So, at most, I figured we'd use this new table 4-5 times a month -- otherwise I was looking forward to keeping the cover on it and deploying it as an extra table of the non-sensory variety.

But that's not how it's worked out so far this summer. We're using it every day. It's been a sink, it's held bubble solution, it's served as a dolly bathtub, it's been a baking soda and vinegar experiment station, and it's several times started as a water table only to be transformed into a soup or potion or poison or a trap by adding, well, whatever was at hand.

Recently we used it as a giant paint container: one side holding red paint, while the other held white. We then went to town using toilet plungers, fly swatters, and our patented "long paint brushes" (regular chubby brushes duct taped to lengths of garden bamboo stakes), making lots of big, messy pink paintings.

When we were done, we just dumped a few buckets of water through the basins, making some nice stomping puddles on the ground and we were good to go for the next day.

The outdoor sensory table might turn out to be as versatile as our wooden boxes, and versatility is important when it comes to big equipment in a preschool.

No more heavy lifting, no more long hallways, no more narrow doorways. Yes! Hooray for the outdoor sensory table! What's next?

(And since every time I show you guys our outdoor sensory table, someone asks where we got it, here it is.)

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Juliet Robertson said...

You have really sold me on this one! I think I'm going to have to flag this up on my courses (due credit going to you and your blog).

isn't it funny how things happen this way. It's been like that with rope, sticks, tarp and tyres to name but a few things that I'm finding are constantly used.


Stacey said...

Another paint experience that is similar to the plunger painting: Use ladies' knee high pantyhose, add a cup (or whatever looks about right) of rice, dried beans, pebbles, or whatever to the stocking, tie it off (so that the dry item remains in the toe area of the stocking), dip into paint, and splat it onto the painting surface (a large paper taped to the pavement, for instance). The stocking acts like a yo-yo to deposit paint with a splat onto the paper. The kids (and adults) love the process and the product is interesting as well!