top of page

Sensory bins for speech therapy

Updated: Feb 5

Hands-on, play-based learning is my jam, so what better way to facilitate that than using a sensory bin? And since it's October, let's make it Fall and Halloween-themed.

Now, a sensory bin is great, but how exactly can it be used in speech therapy? Here are 5 ideas to get you started:

  1. For analytic language processors, targeting single words is a common speech therapy goal, particularly for children who are not producing as many words as expected for their age.

  2. Repetition of single words in a meaningful context is helpful in building new words

  3. Using a sensory bin, you might think of the 5-10 "target words" to model for a child

  4. I would suggest words such as, more, open, wow, mix, all done, pumpkin, ball, yucky, stuck, and shake

2. Gestalt Language Processors

  1. GLPs develop language in chunks, often referred to as echolalia

  2. For Stage 1 Gestalt Language Processors we want to build more gestalts into their repertoire so they can express a variety of functions.

  3. Some gestalts that could be modeled using a sensory bin include:

    1. This is fun! [Function= shared joy]

    2. How about some more? [Function= requesting more of a sensory experience]

    3. Maybe next time [Function= rejecting]

    4. What's next [Function= transitioning]

  4. Although these are examples for children who are using echolalia, the sensory box can also be used with gestalt language processors who are in other stages of development. To do so, we would modify the language targets and modeling that we provide in the session.

3. Articulation, Phonology, or Childhood Apraxia of Speech

  1. Working on a speech sound or a motor-based speech disorder requires a lot of drilling and repetition

  2. Despite there being a great deal of repetition of a sound or movement pattern, we can still make it fun!

  3. Using a sensory box, we might hide objects that are related to the sound we're practicing. For example, if we're working on the production of s clusters, as in words like snake, swing, and skip, we can hide objects that represent those words. In this case, Speech Tree Co is a great resource for finding mini objects to hide in sensory bins!

4. Expanding Language, Narrative Language, and Executive Functioning

  1. Have you ever had a moment when you're trying to think of the word to label an object or an experience, but the exact word isn't coming to you? There are some strategies we can use to help us find the word and these same strategies can be used with children to increase the descriptive language they use to describe something. One strategy called the Expanding Expression Tool (EET), uses tactile and visual strategies to provide relevant information. For example, if describing a pumpkin, you might say: "It's a fruit, it's orange, it grows on a vine, it's made up of seeds, a hard outer shell and a stem, it's used to decorate."

  2. The sensory bin can be used to hide objects that can be described by the child using a preferred tool. The child reaches into the sensory bin, pulls out an object, describes it to the group, and waits for others to guess.

  3. Describing also requires executive functioning skills! Being able to plan, organize, and share a narrative description of an object or experience is no easy task. Might as well make it fun by using a sensory bin as an engaging tool when working on this goal.

5. Imaginative Play

  1. A sensory bin can be so much more than what's in the box and, guess what, the stuff inside doesn't have to stay confined to the box! Let a child explore the materials, manipulate them, and add or remove things as they wish (within reason, of course, we probably don't want a huge mess!). In a recent session with this sensory box, a client took the crinkled paper out and used it for hair on their favorite doll. The pumpkins became the baby's food.

There are endless ways a sensory box can be used in speech therapy! It's a fun, engaging, and hands-on way to target various goals, what could be better?!


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page