Lessons and Activities

Sensory and Skill Bags

Sensory bags have been around in the early childhood classroom for years. It’s nothing new that children enjoy exploring using their senses and like the tactile experience of using their hands to manipulate things. The idea I want introduce to you, uses the concept of sensory exploration but adds academic skills to it. It creates a slight challenge for older children (Pre-K/K) while still providing an engaging sensory experience.

I used these bags as extension activities at my small group table. Whenever I had early finishers, students would grab a bag and work on it. I have done it with rice and the shaving cream.

Picture of bag and recording sheet

What you’ll need to make the bag:

  • Gallon Bags
  • Rice or Shaving Cream
  • Paint or Food Coloring
  • Laminated Skill Sheet
  • Recording Sheet
  • Masking Tape

Here’s how you make them:

Print the Skills Sheets.

Cut the top portion of the sheet off and tape it to the back of the skill sheet.

Laminate the sheets (with the top portion on the back of the sheet to recognize which bag the child is working on).

(For the rice sensory bag) Slide the skills sheet in the bag and pour a substantial amount of rice of top of the sheet.

(For the shaving cream bag) Place the skills sheet in one gallon sized bag, then in a separate gallon bag, add shaving cream and a few squirts of paint. Be sure not to fill the bag up too much!

Seal the shaving cream bag. (Make sure you get all the excess air out.)

Squish the paint around in the bag, so the color gets distributed evenly

Place it inside the bag with the skills sheet, on top of the sheet.

Seal the outer bag removing the excess air.

(Optional) Tape the top of the bag for extra hold or tape the bag down to the table.

Give children the corresponding recording page to find all of the items from the skills sheet.

The first skills bags I made, only had letters. Some of the letters were uppercase and some were lowercase. Students had to find all the letters in their bag and record them on the recording sheet.

Pic of letter bag

Each skill sheet had 15 things to find related to the skill listed. I also added two fun things for children to do at the bottom of the recording sheet.

Once I saw that the letter bags were a hit, I created more sets! Here’s a list of all the skills sheets I made.

  1. Letters (3 Different Skill Sheets)
  2. Discriminating between letters and numbers (3 Different Skill Sheets)
  3. Discriminating between letters, numbers, and words (3 Different Skill Sheets)
  4. Sight words (7 Different Skill Sheets)
  5. Word family words (3 Different Skill Sheets)

Here are a few examples!

My kids LOVED these and even enjoyed coming back and completing their recording sheet later if they didn’t finish!

Feel free to make your own sets and tailor this idea to fit your needs.  These are even great to have children to explore during a literacy station. If you’re tight on time and want to use the sets I created, download the templates below!

Download a Free Letter Skill Sheet

Purchase the Packet of 18 Skill Sheets

Happy Teaching!