Last week we started learning about My Amazing Body: Body Parts. We learned that our heads are hard bone and it protects the soft brain that is inside. Our brains make our bodies move! Our brain is the part of our body that does the thinking. So on this theme of the head and brain, I made a noodle brain sensory play bin.
Mother Goose Time has an exciting new section in the teacher guides this year, with full-color photos of STEAM Stations. They’ve always had the STEAM stations but before they were listed with just text. I find having the photos featured in the guides is inspiring and less overwhelming when you see how simple they are to set up! Using these ideas, you can set your environment up for children to test out new ideas through free play.
I made a noodle sensory bin one other time but it was years ago. We should do it more often because it was a hit!
Setting Up Your Bin
Pasta is inexpensive and you can use it plain or color it with food coloring or liquid watercolors. This time I chose to leave it natural.
I cooked two packages of noodles ($2). I added a small amount of cooking oil so it wasn’t too sticky. Then I let it cool on a tray outdoors. I put it into our two water tables with spoons, bowls, measuring containers and tongs.
You might be concerned about the mess. It actually wasn’t as messy as I anticipated but it was a beautiful day to take it outdoors. My group didn’t eat any noodles except maybe the 1-year-old who had a little taste.
What We’re Learning
We talked about the noodles are soft, like our brain, and the bowls are hard like our skull.
I always enjoy watching sensory play. It’s a good time to observe and ask questions, like:
How do the noodles feel? How do the bowls feel? Which bowl holds the most noodles?
It also gives everyone time to experiment with tools like tongs, which may be new to some children.
They are developing hand strength and fine motor skills through play. This sensory activity gives us the opportunity to talk about words like “sticky” and make comparisons like long and short.
There’s a lot going on here including developing fine motor skills, math concepts, talking about health and safety (protecting our heads) as well as physical science and just plain having fun!