Sensory Activities: Introduction
Points to Remember about Presenting Sensory Activities
Summary of Sensory Activities for
- Give the child opportunities to use
all the senses, not just sight and hearing.
- Include outdoor as well as indoor activities.
- In addition to presenting activities,
allow the child many opportunities to
her/his own, without direction.
- Slow down and follow the childs
The following sensory activities give the toddler
- name, identify and match colors
- name and identify ten basic parts of
- identify objects by feel
- explore nature
- match objects by pattern and texture
- work with lay dough
- experience and identify different sounds
- experience and identify different smells.
Sensory Activity 9: Identifying Sources
Developing the sense of hearing.
Expanding vocabulary; developing memory and matching skills;
following a sequence of events.
Tape cassette player that can be turned on and off easily.
Before you present this activity, present a lesson in
operating the cassette player, especially how to use the
buttons ON, OFF, and REWIND. You may find it helpful to
place a red sticker on the OFF button and a green sticker
on the ON button.
Basket containing a cassette tape you have made recording
six simple, clear sounds. Choose sounds from the childs
childcare center environment and sounds that the child
is likely to know. (Other sounds can be added later as
the child acquires experience and skill.) Make sure that
each sound repeats several times in a row and that there
is a long pause between one sound and the next.Examples
of six sounds: cat meowing; dog barking; car honking;
siren wailing; duck quacking; train whistling.
Poster showing six real-looking or real-life pictures,
each corresponding to one of the things making a sound
on the cassette.Pictures to match the above examples would
consist of the following: cat; dog; car; fire engine;
duck; train. Make the poster by gluing the six laminated
pictures to a large piece of cardboard or construction
paper. Position the pictures horizontally, in two rows
of three. Fasten the pictures in the same order as the
sounds on the tape, moving from the childs left
to right in each row.
- This activity appeals particularly to the
interests and abilities of toddlers 21 24
- In advance, get the poster and the cassette
player. Then prepare the tape and place
it in the basket. Put the basket and poster
on the work tray.
- Put the work mat in place and put the tray
and poster on the work mat, with the
cassette player alongside. Encourage the child
- Sit facing the child with the tray and poster
- Remove the basket from the tray and place
the basket on the work mat beside the
poster. Set the tray aside.
- To make sure that the child can identify the
pictures on the poster, point to each one
and name it. For example, say: This is
a ...cat. This is a ...dog. And so on.
- Take the cassette tape out of the basket.
Set the basket aside. Insert the tape into
the cassette player, then press the ON button.
- Play the first sound. When the sound stops,
press the OFF button.
- Look down at the poster.
- Moving slowly and deliberately, touch the
picture corresponding to the sound you
- Repeat until you have listened to all six
- Slowly and deliberately press REWIND on the
- Pause and smile at the child.
- Invite the child to do the activity. Emphasize
the words on and off.
say: Now you listen to the sounds. First,
turn the cassette player on. After the
child has listened to the first sound, gently
remind the child to turn the player off.
For example, say: You have heard the sound.
Now turn the cassette player off and
find the picture thats making the sound.
- Give the child ample time to start the activity.
- If the child begins playing the tape, get
up quietly and allow the child to work
undisturbed. Do not correct or intervene if
the child chooses an incorrect picture or
listens to the tape without pointing to any
pictures. The first few times the child
works with the cassette player, remain nearby
to help. However, help only if asked.
- If the child continues to look interested,
but does not seem to know what to do, ask:
May I help? Then guide the childs
hand to turn on the player. When the child
begins to engage with the activity, get up quietly
and allow the child to work on
- When the child has finished the activity,
involve the child in putting the cassette
tape in the basket and placing the basket and
poster on the work tray, then
returning the work mat and materials to their
proper places. This completes
- Make sure that the materials presented stay
available on a low shelf, for example
for the child to work on again when she/he
wishes. Some childcare centers set
up a sound table in a quiet nook
or cranny. A low table can hold a cassette player,
a basket containing a cassette tape, and a poster
of corresponding pictures.
- Make this a language activity by naming
each sound, then its picture. For example,
after the sound of a duck quacking, say
quietly: Quack.Quack. After
the duck picture, say quietly:
Duck. Depending on the language
ability of the
child, you could ask the child to repeat
the sound. For example, ask: What
duck say? and see whether the child
can respond: Quack.Quack.
- As the child acquires experience
and skill, introduce more sounds
and pictures, up to a maximum of
nine. Again choose things and sounds
that are familiar to the childfor
example, sheep baaing; horn playing;
pig squealing; cow mooing; toilet
flushing; goat bleating; hen clucking;
bees buzzing; horse neighing. Other
ideas: hands clapping; corn popping;
bell ringing; tambourine shaking;
- Make this a cognitive activity by taping
five or six sequential sounds in the childs
typical day. For each sound, make a card
picturing the activity that produces the
sound. Example of a sound sequence: teacher
greeting child at the door; opening
song; children working at different activities;
water running (for hand washing);
snack time; goodbye song. Present the
cards out of sequence. The goal of this
activity is for the child to arrange the
cards according to the sequence the child
hears on the tape.
- Combine this activity with other
activities to focus on a theme.
For example, take a small group
of toddlers to visit a farm or a
zoo (sensory, social). During the
visit, you and the children tape
animal sounds (motor, sensory, cognitive).
Back at the childcare center, you
and the children make a poster of
corresponding animal pictures (creative,
social). You can also read from
books showing photos of the
animals (language) and encourage
the children to act out the movements
and sounds of the animals (social,
- Make tapes and posters with specific
themes, such as musical instruments (bell,
drum, xylophone, piano); jungle animals
(lion, elephant, parrot); vehicles
(motorcycle, ambulance, car).