Jurassic sand is a great addition the sensory table. It is a bit more expensive than regular sand, but it is finer and has a smoother texture. Plus, the red color of the sand is quite captivating.
I found some really cool red and yellow gems in the fake plant section of Wal-Mart. They look like huge diamonds.
For the first few days, I put out small handheld mesh strainers for the children to sift the sand and uncover the buried gems.
A few days later larger metal colanders were added. This prompted a great deal of cooperative play as when filled with large amounts of sand, they are too heavy for one child to lift. They were also highly intrigued by the “rain” affect of the pouring sand. Experiments ensued as they tried to vary the force of the falling rain by varying how much sand they could scoop.
Yesterday, one of my students spent a great deal of time counting all of the gems. There were over 40 of each color, so my assistant took the opportunity to help her group them by tens to aide her counting. It was a fantastic, spontaneous math lesson.
There is still so much interest in this experience that I am inclined to leave it in place for another week.
What would you add to continue this exploration? I would love to hear your ideas!