Sensory Bin Fun!

By Chelsey Craig,

Sensory bins are a favorite tool of speech therapists, teachers and parents alike! They provide an immersive, hands-on opportunity for children to practice their speech and language skills. Here’s what you need to know to integrate this easy tool into your life.

What is a sensory bin?

Tub or container filled with materials carefully selected to stimulate senses.


Why use sensory bins?

Because they are FUN and ENGAGING for all. And you can target…

Expressive/Receptive Language:

  • Expand vocabulary (nouns, verbs, adjectives)
  • Find objects (e.g. “Where is the __?”)
  • Following directions (e.g. “Put beans in the bowl and dump it out”)

Social/Play Skills:

  • Take turns and share objects
  • Asking for objects
  • Commenting on what each person is doing
  • Pretend play
  • Conversation (e.g. “I like the _. What do you like?”)

Articulation:

  • Find objects/materials with the targeted sound (e.g. “sand” for /s/, “cars” for /k/)

How can I make one?

Buy a small or large tub (usually $2-10) and fill it with different materials and textures:

  • Soft: cotton balls, kinetic sand, feathers, marshmallows, pompoms
  • Squishy: packing peanuts, cooked pasta, squishy toys, sponges
  • Hard: beans, corn, rice, pasta, aquarium rocks, buttons, shells, beads, wood, Legos, chickpeas
  • Wet: ice cubes, water, jelly beads, shaving cream, gelatin
  • Objects: puzzle pieces, cars, balls, animal figures, shovels, scoopers, tongs, blocks, magnets, bowls


Want to share?  This article is a sharable PDF as well.


Sensory Bin Inspiration!

Here are some of our favorite sensory bins we’ve created.

Winter Sensory Bin

When winter-themed decorations go on clearance at the craft stores, our therapists stock up! Here are ways you can use winter-themed items to target speech and language skills

  • Prepositions and following directions
  • Categories
  • Adjectives and describing
  • Answering questions
  • Story creation/narration
  • Vocabulary

Fall Sensory Bin

This fall-themed sensory bin is perfect, especially if you love pumpkins!

  • Basic Concepts: Describe the size, texture and color of the fall items like pumpkins, apples and leaves. Sort by similar features to practice “same” and “different”.
  • Pretend play: Gather pumpkins and apples from you sensory bin for a fall harvest! Help your child think of the ingredients needed to make fruit pies for your feast.
  • Articulation: Hide small fall-themed objects or pictures under the black bean dirt. Practice speech sounds as your child discovers hidden items and then make sentences with those words. This is also a great way to target seasonal vocabulary!

Farm & Vegetable Sensory Bin

We used this sensory bin in group therapy and our students had a blast. You can use this as a group of friends or family.

  • Speech: animal sounds are an excellent way to get our little ones exploring early consonant-vowel combinations ( like “moo, oink, baa, neigh”) and Old MacDonald provides a perfect opportunity to practice vowels when singing “e-i-e-i-o”.
  • Social Language: we made a “garden salad” for our animals to enjoy. Students labeled vegetables they found hiding in the corn and told the group which were their favorites. Everyone took turns asking follow-up questions to find out how peers liked to cook their vegetables and which of their favorite meals have vegetables. We learned our students love salad!

Summer Sensory Bin

We created two sensory bins we could pair with some favorite summer-themed books to practice

  • Articulation: Hide items that contain your child’s speech sounds in the rice or kinetic sand
  • Vocabulary: Describe the size, shape, color and other attributes of the objects found
  • Imaginative Play: Create an ocean-themed birthday party using kinetic sand and shells to make a birthday cake, decorations and presents

Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin

This bin was inspired by The Autism Helper. It uses dessert matching and rainbow rice to help students practice

  • Following multiple step directions
  • Self-advocacy (i.e. asking for help)
  • Picture description
For templates visit The Autism Helper

Check out our Pinterest page and Instagram page for more sensory bin inspiration and fun activities to target speech therapy goals in the home.

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This post written for you by Sarah Denman, M.A. CCC-SLP and the Speech Department team of Columbus Speech & Hearing Center

Earth Day Activities

By Chelsey Craig,

Earth Day is April 22! We’ve gathered some of our favorite Earth Day activities, and additional resources to make celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day fun!

Books, crafts, and exploring seeds to target a variety of speech goals:

  • Download and print an Earth Day Hat! Practice following multi- step directions to create an Earth Day hat.
  • Read Secrets of the Apple Tree and plant your own seeds! Using sequential concepts to describe how an apple tree grows, making predictions of what will happen next in the book and with the seeds when you plant them, and describing what a seed looks and feels like..

Earth Day Snack:

Have fun following multi-step directions with visuals to create a yummy Earth Day snack.

What you’ll need:

  • Rice cake, or other round snack as Earth
  • Cream cheese
  • Blueberries as water
  • Green grapes (halved) as land

Spread cream cheese over your snack, then create the Earth by placing blueberries as water and grapes as land. Use a printed photo of Earth, or a globe, to talk about the Earth and what it looks like.

For additional directions and suggestions for this Earth Day snack visit The Educators Spin On It.


Additional Resources:

Earth Day Columbus has great activities for families. Become a citizen scientist. Try exploring your own backyard and discussing what you find!

Exploratorium will be hosting a virtual celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Join their educator Sue Pierre to explore some of the big ideas behind the science of the Earth’s systems.


Check out our Pinterest page for more fun activities to target speech therapy goals in the home.

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This post written for you by Columbus Speech & Hearing Center

Using Video Clips to Teach Social Skills

By Chelsey Craig,

Trying to teach social skill concepts in a fun and motivating way? Video
clips can be extremely useful! As you and your child watch, you can
pause along the way to discuss relevant topics.

“For The Birds” (Pixar)

Watch the video here

Summary: A flock of small birds perch on a telephone wire when along comes a large dopey bird that tries to join them. The birds of a feather can’t help but make fun of him—and their clique mentality proves embarrassing in the end.

Ideas for discussion:

  • Emotions
    • What are they feeling?
    • How do you know? (e.g. facial expressions, body language)
    • Why might they feel that way?
  • Personal space
  • Bullying
    • Why do you think the little birds acting like that?
    • What could you say to your friends if they acted like that?
    • What could the big bird say or do?
  • Conflict resolution
    • What could they have done instead?
  • If they could talk, what do you think they’d be saying?

“Lou” (Pixar)

Watch the video here

Summary: Lou, a creature made of “Lost and Found” items must
manage the unkind behavior of the schoolyard bully, J.J., who has not
yet learned that giving can be so much more fulfilling than taking away.

Ideas for discussion:

  • Bullying
    • What is J.J. doing? How does that make the other kids feel? What could the other kids say/do?
  • Conflict resolution
  • Giving/sharing vs. taking

“Oreo Commercial” (2009)

Watch the video here

Summary: A younger brother wants to be just like his older brother – which means he needs to figure out a way to dunk his cookie in milk too! The problem is… how do you dunk your cookie given a sippy cup?

Ideas for discussion:

  • “Thinking with your Eyes”
    • Where are his eyes looking? What does that mean he’s thinking about?
  • Problem-solving
    • What’s the problem? How does he try to solve it?
    • What do you think will happen next? What would you do?
  • Nonverbal communication
    • E.g. When the older brother scoots his milk away, what is he trying to say?
    • E.g. How is the younger brother feeling when __?

“Elf” (2003)

Clips available on YouTube, full film available on dvd/bluray & various streaming platforms

Summary: Almost any scene can be used from this hilarious movie about an elf who moves to NYC.

Ideas for discussion:

  • Expected vs. Unexpected Behaviors
    • What did Buddy do? Was it expected or unexpected? Why?
    • How did that make other people feel around him? (e.g. confused, upset, uncomfortable)

Ideas for scenes:

  • Mall scene – Buddy goes to the mall for the 1st time
    • Dinner scene – Buddy eats spaghetti with syrup for dinner… with his hands! Yuk!
  • Doctor scene – Buddy eats cotton balls and won’t sit still, which makes his dad and the doctor upset.

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This post written for you by Sarah Denman, M.A. CCC-SLP of Columbus Speech & Hearing Center

Games and Activities to Prevent Bullying

By Chelsey Craig,

Bullying is often a tough subject for parents and children alike, but teaching things like empathy, self-confidence, and the appreciation of people’s differences – all of which can reduce bullying behaviors – can be fun! Try these games with your pre-school and school aged kids to stop bullying before it starts.

  1. Play “guess who?”: Give clues to help your child guess the person you are thinking of. Start with simple clues such as their favorite food or the color of their hair. This can help your child start to think about and appreciate what makes us all different!
  2. Create family portraits: Craft portraits of your family, as well as other families in your circle. Talk about how each family is similar to and different from your own, and list the special things that each family brings to your life. Most importantly, discuss one thing that all families have in common – they all love each other!
  3. Chart similarities and differences: Help your child recognize and accept what makes our differences beautiful, and use some math skills while you’re at it! Make a simple chart of characteristics, hobbies, and traits such as “tall, funny, wears glasses, speaks Spanish, loves donuts, etc…) and see how the people in your life add to the variety of your community.
  4. Imagine being someone else: Let’s use pretend play to teach empathy! When children pretend to be someone else (or even the family pet!) they explore the hearts and minds of others, which helps them see things from different perspectives.
  5. Help give back to your community: A strong community supports its members, and one way to help your child engage with theirs is to help them understand their role. Talk about ways your child can be a helper to their family, friends, neighbors, and classmates through acts of kindness, and then put those ideas into action!

Source: https://www.kindercare.com/content-hub/articles/2019/october/5-preschool-games-to-prevent-bullying?utm_campaign=KC-email&utm_medium=Email&utm_source=Act-On&utm_content=Newsletter&utm_term=October

Learning empathy through perspective-taking is a crucial life skill that all children should work to acquire.

❤️

When they need additional help learning this skill, our speech therapists are ready to teach them! Through individual therapy, group therapy and/or co-treatment sessions, we make sure teaching this concept is a priority for clients with social language needs. Why? Because perspective taking, empathy and sympathy are embedded in our everyday lives and part of most “hidden rules” in social communication.

Contact us at 614-263-5151 or speech@columbusspeech.org to learn more

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This post written for you by Natalie Day, M.S., CCC-SLP of Columbus Speech & Hearing Center

How to Utilize a Timeless Author’s Books to Develop Speech & Language Skills

By Chelsey Craig,

Dr. Seuss is a household name. Did you know his books can be used to develop speech & language skills? The next time you read one of your favorite Dr. Seuss books with your family, try incorporating these tips from our speech-language pathologists!

Developing Vocabulary: Books are great for learning new vocabulary pertaining to a particular topic/theme. Use a Dr. Seuss book to plan a week (or even month) of themed activities to help promote your child’s vocabulary growth. Each activity will help build upon your child’s previous knowledge/experience.

If using, Horton Hears a Who!, you can pretend to be elephants, make elephant hats, talk about how an elephant’s body parts are similar/different than your own, use pom-poms to make clovers, or make edible clovers using Rice Krispies cereal

Developing Early Literacy Skills: Phonological awareness, the understanding of how sounds are put together to form words, is a foundational pre-literacy skill. The ability to identify and produce rhyming words is included in this. Dr. Seuss books, such as One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, are full of rhyming words. As your child becomes familiar with a story, pause and let them fill in the missing words. 

Developing Articulation Skills: Dr. Seuss books are full of motivating “tongue tanglers” that can be used to reinforce clear articulation skills. Pick a book full of your child’s target sound(s) and have fun! Fox in Socks is great for working on the /s/ sound. 


Developing Social Skills:·        

Yertle the Turtle: Targets sympathy and the importance of caring for others.·        

The Big Brag: A lesson surrounding bragging.·        

What Was I Scared Of: Perfect for discussing fears and how to overcome them.·        

Green Eggs and Ham: Conveys the importance of being open-minded/flexible. 

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This post written for you by Samantha Secrist, M.A., CCC-SLP of Columbus Speech & Hearing Center

Pictures Worth a Thousand Words

By Chelsey Craig,

Books are a great way to expand your child’s speech and language skills at home. Wordless picture books add to the joy of storytelling, because you, or your child, become the storyteller.

They can be used to target a variety of skills:   

  • Sequence what happens first, next, and last in the story.
  • Recall details of the story after the story is finished.
  • Expand your child’s vocabulary by talking about the people, places, objects, actions and/or feelings of the people in the story.
  • Have your child describe the picture to you and guess what they are talking about.       
  • Target articulation skills by having your child tell the story using their best speech sounds.       
  • Point out pictures that have your child’s target sound(s) in them.

See below for a sample of some wordless picture books. Wordless books leave the story up to your child’s imagination…and the possibilities are endless.  

Ready, Set, Read!

WORDLESS PICTURE BOOKS: 
Wave by Suzy Lee
Chalk by Bill Thomson
Fossil by Bill Thomson
The Flower Man by Mark Ludy
Hank and the Egg by Rebecca Dudley
Bluebird by Bob Staake 
Zoom by Istvan Banyai
Re-Zoom by Istvan Banyai
Flashlight by Lizi Boyd
Door by Jihyeon Lee
Rainstorm by Barbara Lehman 
Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle
Inside Outside by Lizi Boyd
Journey by Aaron Becker
Pool by Jihyeon Lee
Mirror by Jeannie Baker
Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson
Float by Daniel Miyares
South by Patrick McDonnell
The Boy and the Airplane by Mark Pett
The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett
The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee
The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
Tuesday by David Wiesner
Where’s Walrus by Stephen Savage
Window by Jeannie Baker

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This post written for you by Eileen Adamo, M.S., CCC-SLP of Columbus Speech & Hearing Center

Rainy Day Activities

By Chelsey Craig,

When the forecast is projecting for rain, rain and more rain, it may seem daunting if you’ve got little ones at home. But no worries- Miss Abbey has shared all of her go-to rainy day activities that she does with her own children at home!
.
☔️𝐒𝐢𝐭 𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐜𝐡 𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫 𝐮𝐦𝐛𝐫𝐞𝐥𝐥𝐚𝐬 𝐝𝐮𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐬𝐧𝐚𝐜𝐤/ 𝐥𝐮𝐧𝐜𝐡 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞. 𝐓𝐚𝐥𝐤 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭:
• Where they’re eating
• What they’re eating
• What’s happening around them
• Requests for “more” snack or make choices between snacks
• The flavors and textures of the snack (crunchy, chewy, sweet, salty, sour, smooth, slimy, etc)
.
☔️ 𝐅𝐢𝐧𝐝 𝐩𝐮𝐝𝐝𝐥𝐞𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐲𝐚𝐫𝐝 𝐨𝐫 𝐚𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐧𝐞𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐛𝐨𝐫𝐡𝐨𝐨𝐝. 𝐓𝐚𝐥𝐤 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭:
• Size concepts: are the puddles you find big, medium, or small
• Comparisons: are the puddles bigger/smaller than your child’s boots or your boots
• Quantity concepts: is a lot or a little water in the puddle, how many puddles you found (give a specific number, or use general terms such as one, a lot, a few)
• Location concepts: where are you finding puddles (on the sidewalk, on the driveway, beside the mailbox, next to the curb, in the grass, etc)
• Verbs: splash with your hands, jump with both feet, stomp with one foot, march, hop on one foot, etc. Use this activity to talk about “what happened?”
.
☔️ 𝐆𝐨 𝐨𝐧 𝐚 𝐰𝐚𝐥𝐤!
• Have children help plan what they need for a walk in the rain (boots vs shoes, raincoat vs a regular jacket, hat and/or umbrella)
• Practice describing words by talking about the size/colors/other features of houses you see
• Practice one speech word for each house you pass or each sidewalk square
• Point out objects that have your speech sound
• Bring a bucket and fill it with treasures you find (sticks, rocks, leaves, acorns, pinecones, mulch, flowers). When you get home, you can sort the items by category, size, color, etc.

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This post written for you by Abbey Vielhaber, M.A., CCC-SLP of Columbus Speech & Hearing Center

Celebrate UNICORN Day!

By Chelsey Craig,

We’re helping you celebrate Unicorn Day all day on April 9 with these simple and fun educational activities.

Our Unicorn Day celebration includes Unicorn Slime, Pin the Horn on the Unicorn, and Reading Together!

Unicorn Slime

Practice following 1-2 step directions by making UNICORN SLIME!

We followed instructions from The Best Ideas for Kids

What you’ll need:

  • Bowl and spoon for mixing
  • 6oz Elmer’s Glitter Glue (can use regular glue and add glitter too!)
  • Baking Soda
  • Contact Lens Solution (containing boric acid and sodium borate)
  • Flare! Whatever beads, glitter, gemstones or other additions you want to use you make your unicorn slime EXTRA unicorn-worthy

Directions:

  1. Grab your bowl to mix your slime together
  2. Pour your entire 6 oz Elmer’s Glitter Glue into the bowl
  3. Add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and mix in thoroughly (You can add 2 TBSP or up to 1/4 cup water if you want stretchier slime!)
  4. Add your glitter and continue to mix
  5. Slowly add in your contact lens solution (Reminder: contact lens solution should contain boric acid and sodium borate or your slime will not form). Add it in slowly and mix if possible so that you can adjust and ensure you do not add too much
  6. Mix until your slime forms and begins to harden.
  7. Now it’s time to knead! If it’s not the consistency you’re looking for, keep kneading. If it’s too sticky, add a little bit of lotion or baby oil to your hands.
  8. You can choose to add beads, gemstones or other unciron-friendly additions!
  9. Once you’re done adding all unicorn-worthy additions it’s time to play!

Pin the Horn on the Unicorn

Practice turn-taking and using lcoation words to describe where the horn was placed with PIN THE HORN ON THE UNICORN!

For this activity we used a poster board to draw our unicorn, and construction paper for the horns.

If you’re not feeling artistic and up for drawing a unicorn, don’t worry, you can print an image of a unicorn and cut horns from construction paper to match!

Reading Together

After a game of Pin the Horn on the Unicorn we kept the unicorn-themed fun going by reading our favorite unicorn books to practice using fun describing words like sparkly, shiny, bright, colorful and silly.

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This post written for you by the staff of Columbus Speech & Hearing Center

10 Ways to Use those Toilet Paper Rolls!

By Chelsey Craig,

With this Therapy Share we’ll be helping you use your toilet paper and paper towel rolls to spark some language-rich, creative play!

  1. Staple 2 tubes together to make binoculars. Attach a string for a strap. Go on a birdwatching/animal watching walk.
  2. Cut 3 slits partway up around the tube, squish the cut end together and secure with tape to make an ice cream cone. Use kinetic sand, playdough, or wadded up scrap paper and play ice cream shoppe.
  3. Tape 3-4 tubes together as a telescope. Stick paper stars around the house. Send your child on a star hunt.
  4. Cut a tube into pieces, cut open on one side and decorate with paint, markers, gems, beads, etc. to make cuff bracelets. Put on dress up clothes and have a fashion show.
  5. Cut a tube into pieces and decorate to make napkin rings. Host a “fancy” dinner for your family.
  6. Tape 3-4 tubes together to make a pirate telescope. Turn a couch or bed into a pirate ship and sail the seas.
  7. Collect several tubes to use as bowling pins. Find a small ball or wad up some paper. Have a bowling tournament.
  8. Cut a tube into pieces to make rings. Stick a crayon or markers in a ball of playdough or have someone hold it upright. Play a game of mini ring toss!!
  9. Fold one end over and tape it shut. Fill with dry beans, beads, or stones. Fold and tape the other end to make a maraca. Play some dancing music and shake it to the beat!!
  10. Cut a tube to fit your child’s forearm. Cut a slit down the center lengthwise. Add a superpower logo. Slip the superhero cuffs on your child’s amr. Add a towel or fabric cape and Save the Universe!!

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Make Speech “Egg”citing!

By Chelsey Craig,

Eggs provide entertainment that lasts well beyond the Easter season, so why not use them to practice your child’s speech goals?!

  • For “WHO” Questions:
    • Have your child find or dye eggs with you or someone else and after, discuss “who” made or found each egg
  • For Requesting:
    • Hide the eggs in eyesight but out of reach to encourage requests for the egg. You can also tape eggs shut to encourage requests for help opening the egg to find their surprise!
  • For Speech Sounds:
    • Hide pictures/words in plastic eggs, practicing each word by itself or making up a sentence for each egg/word found!
  • For Categories or Same/Different:
    • Find dollar store trinkets, snacks, stickers, or small toys in the plastic eggs, and after finding them, sort by color, object, category, etc.
  • For Prepositions:
    • Talk about where your child found each egg; in the drawer, under the couch, on top of the lamp, etc.
  • For “What-Happened” Questions:
    • Dye hard-boiled eggs and talk about actions like “mixing the dye, stirring it up, dropping the egg in, holding it in, scooping it out, changing the color,” etc.

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This post written for you by Abbey Vielhaber, M.A., CCC-SLP of Columbus Speech & Hearing Center