When I saw these little vegetable eraser sets at the local toy store, I grabbed two sets because I knew exactly what I wanted to make with them. A vegetable garden sensory bin. I got two because I wanted to enable students to match the vegetables up, sort by color and have enough options to classify the vegetables by different features. This vegetable sensory bin does more than just promote matching and sorting; it promotes language development too.
One thing I observe day after day in my classroom is how the sensory table is like the preschool equivalent of the water cooler. The children go towards it, and I hear them talking, sometimes about the contents of the sensory table, sometimes about something totally unrelated. While they talk, they are learning social skills, as well as new vocabulary, storytelling and listening skills. I can’t wait to share this vegetable garden sensory bin with my preschool class this week!
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Gather your materials. You will need two sets of these Japanese Vegetable Erasers ( they are small, so if your class is still putting things in their mouths you can pop everything into a water bottle and make it a sensory bottle instead!), some rice, a bin, some food color in red, green and yellow, a Ziploc, a small garden set, and chopsticks if you want.
Start by mixing your brown food dye – I used 15 drops of green, 15 of red, and four yellow.
Add it and the rice to a Ziploc and mix! Shake until it looks pretty uniform and let dry for a few hours.
Add it to the bin and pop in the erasers!
Add the garden set (before you ask I will tell you I got mine at the Dollar Tree )
Start playing! Match up the vegetables. Group by color. My daughter dug out all the veggies she loves.
Simply play and learn about new vegetables.
If you want to offer children a challenge add in chopsticks or small tongs. My favorite ones are Zoo Sticks.
Books About Vegetables
Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert is an alphabet book extraordinaire and perfect for a letter F since it’s all about food! Wonderful paintings of fruits and vegetables seem ultra simple, and it is, but somehow the way the author pieced this simple book together is brilliant. Maybe it’s that children learn about food at the table multiple times a day and feel proud being able to identify not only some of the letters but some of the pictures too! From a teaching standpoint, I love that there are both upper and lower case letters on each page. This book will grow with your child, and beware it will also make you hungry.
Monsters Don’t Eat Broccoli by Barbara Jean Hicks is a really cute book about what monsters will and won’t eat. They will eat wheels and tractors; they will not eat broccoli. My son got into the repeating refrain ” Fum, foe, fie, fee, monsters don’t eat broccoli!” In the end, the monsters are really a set of siblings with all sorts of food on their plates including broccoli. It was a fun way of opening up a talk about what foods we like and why trying new things is a good thing. With all the Halloween treats, I’ll sneak veggies in wherever I can including bedtime reading!
Carrot Soup by John Segal is a cute book about planting a garden, in this case, carrots, tending it and then reaping the rewards or maybe not. Rabbit carefully planned out his garden and took care of it. But when it was time to gather all the carrots, they were all gone! Throughout the pages there are hints to where the carrots might be. Your child will likely figure it out before Rabbit does. My son liked this book when he was a preschooler, and I loved reading it with him as he was rather exasperated that the Rabbit couldn’t figure out the mystery!