Thursday, March 15, 2018

Therapy Tip: Easter Sensory Bin

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

Easter Sensory Bin

Sensory bins are fun and popular with 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. People often associate these with children with autism or sensory processing disorder, but these are useful and fun for all children. 

Working in homes of toddlers, I try to make up small sensory bins several times a year. Traveling from home to home to conduct therapy sessions, I use a small container to serve as my sensory bin. A small container is perfect for one 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.

Generally, the base of the sensory bin contains something like uncooked macaroni noodles, rice, beans, shredded paper, pom-poms, etc. For my Easter sensory bin, I like to use the grass people often put in the bottom of Easter baskets. It has a texture that is a bit different. You could also use the green shredded paper that is found in stores, which you can also replicate easily. 

Next, additional items are placed in the bin based upon the fine motor skills that are being targeted or vocabulary that is being addressed. I collect little Easter related toys I find in dollar stores or on clearance at the end of the season to use in my bins. What you put in the bin can be different, but I'll share what I put in my mine for the work I do with toddlers and why.

For my Easter sensory bin, I use a couple of plastic eggs. One egg is big and one is small to target the size words. You can further reinforce big and little by seeing what will fit inside the eggs. The colors of the eggs can also be a target as well. Then I have a few rabbits in my bin to work on actions like hop, jump, or eat (which is why I have the carrots too). I like to bury the people under the grass for more actions like find and hide. I can line up all the rabbits and count them as they jump in the grass. You can model questions and phrases like, "Where's the bunny?" and "I see you." The vocabulary and phrases that you can target can continue from there. Of course, there are all sorts of targets, but these can hopefully give you an idea for your own bin.

Sensory bins are great for speech therapy because it allows me to use a fun activity to target several language skills. Have fun making one for your child! 

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

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