Thursday, January 12, 2017

Therapy Tip: Winter Sensory Bin

Welcome to Therapy Thursday! This is the day I share a tip based upon my experience as a pediatric speech-language pathologist and a mother of a child with special needs. Today's tip is:

Winter Sensory Bin

Sensory bins are a fun and popular activity for young children. Sensory bins are simply containers filled with an item meant to provide some sort of texture to the child as they dig and feel around while playing. Other items are placed in the bin based upon the fine motor skills that are being targeted or vocabulary that is being addressed.

Working in homes of toddlers, I try to make up small sensory bins several times a year. Traveling from home to home, I pack a shoebox sized container for my sensory bin. This container is just the right size for one small child to play in and is easy for me transport. I generally don't fill the container completely full since some of the toddlers I work with will end up dumping out the contents.

This is an example of a winter sensory bin I do.

The base of the bin is simple cotton balls. These cotton balls provide a soft texture for the toddlers. After they dig around, I will usually rub the cotton balls on the child's hands and face too.

Here are some of the objects I put inside it.
For my winter sensory bin, I chose to focus on the color white, so that dictated what objects I put into the bin. Besides the cotton balls, I have a couple of white cups (plastic and Dixie), a couple of rabbits, a spider ring, white/black tiger, a cow, and an ice cream and egg from a play food set. Sometimes, I include items like white Styrofoam balls, white pipe cleaners, or white measuring cups. Generally, I use things laying around my home so that families can somewhat replicate my bin if they choose.

Using the items from my sensory bin described above, I can easily target many language skills. These include:
-Actions words: Dump, scoop, eat, drink
-Adjectives: White, soft, full, empty
-2 word phrases: White spider, Put in, Dump out, Hop bunny
-Vocabulary: Bunny, spider, ice cream, etc.
To work on these skills, I just play along side of the toddler as we dig through the bin. It's that simple!

The most important thing about any sensory bin is to find something that will meaningfully engage the child you are working with. I hope this gives you an idea for creating your own.

Therapy Thursday is for educational purposes only and not intended as therapeutic advice.

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