Sometimes kids surprise you. Usually I think of the sensory table as a place to scoop, dig, dump, and build. With 2s and 3s it's easy to forget that some kids are ready for more imaginative play.
The other day I arrived to find someone had emptied out the sensory table. I forget what I had planned, but it was gone. Since I share a room with other teachers on alternate days, this sometimes happens. Looking in desperation for something safe for our student with allergies, I found a container of sawdust. It's actually more like small wood curls than sawdust.
Great, now what? More scoops and shovels? Wait, there were little logs that were part of a natual building set. I borrowed some of those and then headed to the cabinet where we keep animals. There was a box labeled "Woodland." I think it was a stretch to call some of those animals woodland creatures, but I wasn't feeling picky at the moment.
I WAS proud of myself that wood had figured in each element in the table even though no one else would notice (my co-teacher actually did, though). I realized that we'd have to add scoops later because the kids wouldn't know what to DO with animals, logs, and wood bits, but it looked nice to start with.
It turns out that the kids played with that setup all morning. They fed the animals, they build little homes out of the logs. They gave the animals dialogue. It was super to get such a reminder that sometimes they are ready to be more creative and that we don't have to make all the decisions for them.