Sensory Activity: Hidden Shapes Bean Tray

Hidden shapes bean tray for sensory play

Sensory learning involves the processing of stimuli through your senses – taste, touch, smell, hearing, and vision.  It gives your child sensory experiences that help them develop dexterity – pincher grasp; teaches them about the properties of objects and substances – weight, balance, measurements; and helps them identify words associated with sensations – hot, cold.

As your child dumps, pours, traces, scoops, and explores, they’re learning vital skills.  Use your imagination and experiment with a sensory tray, bucket, or bin.  We’re focusing on pincher grasp, shape recognition, and measurements today.  For tracing, salt works great too.  Want more fine motor activities? Lacing with colored pasta is a great learning activity for preschoolers.

Materials Needed:

  • Tray, Michaels 4.99 
  • Beans, salt, or rice
  • Paper (heavy cardstock works well)
  • Tape
  • Scoops, trains, jars, paint brushes, toy rake
  • shapes_template

What’s Next:

  1. Start with a tray.  Now this can be any type of flat tray ― cardboard box, box top, storage bin, or I bought mine at Michaels.  With the 40% coupon it was 1.99, super cheap!
  2. I made a shapes_template (PDF) that you’re welcome to click and print it.  I used heavy bright green card stock.  Print, cut, then tape.  There are also other templates on the web.
  3. Add beans, rice, or salt.  Tips:  If you want to focus more on tracing, salt works best.  Add minimal salt to cover the shapes and have your child practice tracing.  Then shake the tray to start over.
  4. Here’s little C in action!  We discussed measurements, full/empty, shape recognition & reading, and flexing those fine-motor skills! We play a little game when they fall out ― he has to pick each one up individually.

child playing with trains and filling and pouring with bean sensory tray

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