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Spring Butterfly Matching Sensory Tray for Preschoolers

Spring is such an exciting time in the preschool classroom, which so many opportunities to explore science and nature topics like butterflies. I made this butterfly-matching sensory tray to go along with our gardening theme from Experience Preschool. It allows young learners to engage in sensory play, scooping, pouring, “planting flowers’, creating a garden, and matching butterflies. You don’t need a sensory table for this butterfly theme sensory play activity. A tray is a great way to provide hands-on activities for young children.

Butterfly Matching Sensory Tray with book and the word "butterfly" with wood letters

The Benefits of Sensory Bins & Play

Sensory bins and trays are a fantastic way to promote language development and fine motor practice, making them a valuable addition to literacy centers. The hands-on sensory experience engages multiple senses, creating a rich environment for language exploration. As children explore various materials within the sensory bin, they develop important skills as they encounter different textures, shapes, and objects, naturally stimulating their curiosity and encouraging verbal communication. They can describe what they see, touch, and feel, expanding their vocabulary and enhancing their ability to express themselves. Manipulating objects in the sensory bin is an amazing way to refine fine motor skills as children grasp, pour, scoop, and sort. These activities strengthen hand-eye coordination, dexterity, and control, all essential for future writing and drawing tasks.

By incorporating sensory bins into literacy centers on the lesson plan, educators provide an engaging learning experience that nurtures language skills while simultaneously developing fine motor abilities. Adding upper and lowercase letters is an easy way to introduce letters of the alphabet to little learners. If you have older children, incorporate sight word books or vocabulary cards.  A good alternative is to introduce science topics like the life cycle of a butterfly.

Find more gardening activities and different ways to learn on my Gardening Pinterest board. Butterfly art activities are featured at the bottom of this post.

Butterfly Matching Sensory Tray for a spring preschool gardening theme.

Butterfly Matching Sensory Tray

This sensory tray is a fun way to introduce a spring preschool gardening theme. Children can scoop and pour, design a garden and match butterflies. Our butterfly garden matching sensory tray includes: 

You may be able to find many of these items at the dollar store to include in your sensory activities, including easter grass or beans to use as sensory bin filler. 

Butterfly Matching Sensory Tray

A Butterfly is Patient Book

The book A Butterfly is Patient is one of our favorite butterfly books. It’s a beautiful butterfly book that pairs perfectly with this sensory bin. It has wonderful information about different kinds of butterflies and is beautifully illustrated. My kids like to look through the book for their favorites.

Butterfly images in the book titled A Butterfly is Patient.

The colorful tray with lots of interesting items draws a child’s interest and encourages them to explore how the materials look and feel. These hands-on sensory experiences are calming and promote well-rounded learning experiences about our theme.

A Butterfly is Patient book coordinates with sensory tray.

Most of my sensory bins work well for small groups but sometimes we like to have time for individual play.

Child playing in sensory tray

Our butterfly matching tray is a bit of a “hide and seek” type activity. First, the child chooses a butterfly to put in a dish and then searches for the matching color or patterned butterfly.

Child chooses items out of sensory tray using tweezers

Below you can see the child looking for a match to the orange butterfly. In addition, she’s developing fine motor skills when using the tweezers.

Preschooler searching for matching butterfly in butterfly sensory tray activity

Here’s what it looked like through mid-play. It’s not all perfection here, kids are allowed to play! Click here for more fine motor activities.

Real look at the butterfly sensory tray after children played with it.

I hope my sensory tray will be an inspiration for your next preschool sensory bin!

More Butterfly Activities

See what’s in the Bees & Butterflies curriculum box, create Colors of a Monarch and make a butterfly craft using coffee filters, pipe cleaners and paint.