Thursday, August 24, 2017

Therapy Tip: Fall 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:

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

Generally, the base of the sensory bin contains something like uncooked macaroni noodles, rice, beans, shredded paper, pom-poms, etc. (The picture above does not have a base yet added to it.) Next, additional 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 to conduct therapy sessions, I use a small container to serve as my sensory bin. A small container is perfect 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.

For my fall sensory bin, I use a typical base item which is generally rice or noodles. Then, I use small fake pumpkins, turkeys, fake fall flowers, and fake leaves. You could use real leaves, but I try to avoid this due to my own child's allergies. The little turkeys I use were originally on top of cupcakes sold at a grocery store. So, I did purchase the cupcakes just to have the turkeys to keep for therapy. The pumpkins and fall leaves were purchased on the clearance rack at the Dollar General Store. I try not to spend too much money on these bins since toddlers are sort of destructive.

Using the items from my sensory bin, I can easily target many language skills in young language learners. These include:
-Adjectives: Red, orange, brown, little
-Actions: Hide (hide the turkey in the leaves), Jump (make the turkey jump in the leaves), Eat (make the turkey eat the pumpkin)
-2 word phrases: Red leaf, small pumpkin, eat pumpkin, two pumpkins, jump turkey
-Vocabulary: Turkey, leaf, pumpkin
-Counting: Since, I have multiple turkeys and pumpkins, I can count them as we find them. 

To work on these skills, I just play along side of the toddler as we dig through the bin and model words. 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. Don't forget to check out your local dollar store (and tops of cupcakes) for some seasonal items that are inexpensive for your bin!

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

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