Sand and Water Tables are a perfect addition to classrooms, daycares, playrooms or backyards. Really, anywhere there are children with adults interested in their education. There are literally hundreds of ways to elevate the level of learning for your children by coming up with different projects, or using different material, even conduction experiments with your sand and water tables. Children will experience development in sensory, motor and social skills, and have a broader understanding of spatial relations and natural science. Oh yea, and an amazing amount of fun!
When choosing a project for your class or your kids be mindful of their ages. For example; if you are going to substitute sand with dry noodles make sure small children are being supervised closely to prevent choking. For older children lay down some rules and give them some responsibility over their sand and water table. If you take the sand and water tables out regularly get the children into a routine of set up and clean up. This not only makes your life easier, but this teaches them to work together and as you praise them for a job well done they will learn to take pride in work.
Free play requires little preparation on your part and is one of the greatest ways to use your sand and water table. There are very few limitations on what your children can experience. Try setting your children up with sand, water and toy sea creatures. Throw grass in there for sea weed. Not that children need much encouragement before they play pretend, but sometimes its fun to teach them about the ocean maybe let them color in an octopus or shark before letting them go. Free play is a highly educational time for children, it is not simply a way to keep the kids occupied, though it does accomplish this well. During this time children learn to create their own worlds which gives them a sense of control over their environment. Children are young and their imaginations are powerful and this little tub is like a melting pot. Watch your children closely and you will see them working things out together and yes sometimes fighting as their view of this play world may clash with someone elses’ view. Free play helps them learn to share, not only toys but also space and a collaborative view of their ocean world.
Sensory Games are also excellent ways to use your sand and water activity tables. One idea is to first make the water cloudy with paint or even mud. Then place different object at the bottom. Then have the children form a line and one at a time try to guess, by using their sense of touch, what is at the bottom of the tub. Aside from random objects, have each child bring something from home. Send them home the day before with a ditto explaining the project so their mom can help them find something suitable. Then have them bring it in concealed in a paper bag and brought to you. This project is fun to watch the kids try so hard not to tell the others what they brought in. And they all get pretty excited when their object gets picked. Another variation of this is to find three dimensional letters and numbers and have them feel what symbol they are holding. After they have guessed their letter correctly have them hold on to it for a project to do latter where you can reinforce their understanding of the alphabet, now from a platform of pride and accomplishment. Children always learn better when they think its their idea or that they have somehow earned it.
Other fun educational activities are Sand and Water Table Experiments. By using your sand and water table children can learn about photosynthesis, metamorphosis, erosion and countless other laws of natural science. Try filling a clear tub with healthy soil and divide the tub in half by placing an opaque tub over on half (so as to block out light on that half). Then have each child place two seeds in the soil, one each side. Make sure they place their seeds close to the outside, half the fun is watching the roots grow. As they see the plants growing you can explain photosynthesis by teaching the kids how plants need to eat soil, water and sunlight like they need to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.
While sand and water tables are built for the convenience of having a portable and secure tub, many of the same projects, experiments and fun can be had by using large plastic bowls, baby bathtubs, or any container that can hold water, be easily dumped and is not in danger of braking.
Corey Hardin, Vice President to JoLee OE Early Childhood Educational Products. If you are interested in purchasing Sand and Water Tables, Sensory Tables, or simply looking for fun projects to do with your sand and water tables, I recommend Fun Kids Tables.http://www.funkidstables.com