Preschoolers love sensory play because it meets their sensory cravings and provides a stress-free way to play. They also love to do simple wooden puzzles. We combined these two favorites to make an alphabet sensory play center.
We filled a sensory bin with dry alphabet noodles. They are available at many grocery stores in the pasta aisle. We also added wooden letter cut-outs from our Melissa & Doug See and Spell puzzles. This is perfect for the beginning of the school year. Younger children enjoy touching, pouring, scooping and digging in the noodles. Older children like to find the letters that they recognize, and some of them even found matching letters in the bin.
At first, the students spent time just running their hands through the alphabet noodles. They buried the letters in the pasta and dug around trying to find them!
With most of our centers (dramatic play, art easel, sensory table), we change the basic set up on a monthly basis and then add things in each week to keep the children interested. At the sensory table, we keep the base the same (rice, noodles, chickpeas, lentils, etc.) and then change the “add-ins.” Sometimes we add tongs, scoops, cups or spoons. For this alphabet sensory play center, we added in the wooden puzzles that go with the letters.
Our younger students can just match the letters, but the older ones are also able to connect the beginning sound of each word with the letter. Activities that combine multiple objectives (like sensory and literacy) are always winners in my book!
Name activities are also a great idea for this sensory play bin. So another option is to give the students cards with their names printed on them. They can find and match the letters in their names. The possibilities are endless!