Sensory Bin Fun!

By Alexa Demyan,

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


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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

Family-Friendly St. Patrick’s Day Activities at Home!

By Alexa Demyan,

Happy March! As we slowly move toward Spring, many parents are more excited than ever for warm weather and the ability enjoy the outdoors as a family! Because March weather can be unpredictable, we wanted to share are a few activities for speech and language practice that can be done no matter the weather! 

Search for Shamrocks!

Outside: Search for shamrocks, leaves, pine needles, or anything else green! Talk about how these items are similar and different with descriptive language (Is it small, big, soft, hard, shiny, sharp, soft?).

Inside: Do the same activity, but see how many green items you can find in your home. In addition to the descriptions listed above, this might lead to even more descriptive language (Where does it belong in the house? What category is it in? What do you do with it?). 


Make a Rainbow!

Outside: Use chalk to draw a rainbow on the sidewalk or your driveway. While drawing, practice an articulation target word for each color that you use!

Inside: Create a rainbow using whatever craft materials you have at home – maybe use several different materials in one picture! Practice speech sounds while drawing and then hang the rainbows around your house for springtime cheerfulness! 


Do Some Yoga and Notice How You Feel!

Outside or inside, this can be a great way to move your body. Work in some language practice by describing how your body and brain feel when you do yoga! Does your brain feel calm, energized, or relaxed? Does stretching feel good on your arms, legs, back, or neck? 

Check out this site for some St. Patrick’s Day themed yoga poses for kids!

Phonological Awareness Skills

By Alexa Demyan,

Children playing with….sounds?!?!

When most of us think about children playing, we usually think about things like blocks, puzzles, and other toys. But it’s also important for young children (and their families) to play with sounds – the sounds in their language. Doing so not only helps children learn how to pronounce these speech sounds but also helps them to become readers as well. Learning to read and write starts long before kindergarten and has long-lasting effects. Learning to play with sounds (also called “Phonological Awareness skills”) is one of the key skills of children ages 0-5 that predict later reading success. A more formal definition of Phonological Awareness is the auditory processing of spoken language (not of written language) and understanding that spoken language can be divided and manipulated into smaller components (sentences, phrases, words, syllables, phoneme clusters; individual phonemes). 

Areas included in the skill of phonological awareness are:

·     Rhyme (discrimination (“Do book and cook rhyme?”) and production (“Tell me a word that rhymes with bee”)

·     Segment (clapping out words in sentences, number of syllables, phonemes)

·     Isolation (tell the beginning/middle/end sounds in a word) and recognizing when words share phonemes (‘ball’ and ‘bat’) (also known as “alliteration”)

·     Deletion of syllables (“Say ‘cowboy’. Now say it again but don’t say ‘boy’”) and phonemes (“Say ‘fox’. Now say it again but don’t say ‘f’”)

·     Blending (“win—dow ” is “window” and “b—oy” is “boy”)

There are many ways to incorporate phonological awareness skills into your daily play with your child. Many nursery rhymes include rhyming words that you can point out to your child as you read as well as words beginning with the same sounds. You can clap out long and short words and talk about them (e.g. “cat” vs. “ballerina”). You can take turns naming as many words as you can think of that begin (or end) with the same sound (ball, baby, book, etc.). You can play “I’m thinking of an animal that barks and begins with the “d” sound. You can play “I’m going on a trip and I’m taking a….” using rhyming words, words beginning with the same sound, only 1 syllable words, etc. Books are a fantastic resource for talking about and pointing out all of these skills. Talk back and forth into a play microphone or wooden spoon or in front of a mirror. You can play these games in the car or while in the bathtub or anywhere! Have fun!

Fun Reading Resources and Ideas:

•       Reading Rockets website

•       Get Ready To Read – www.getreadytoread.org

•       Reading is Fundamental website- www.rif.org

•       Reading Resource website- readingresource.net

•       www.starfall.com 

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

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Our Favorite Teletherapy Activities

By Alexa Demyan,

Over the past several months, speech therapists everywhere have been learning how to make teletherapy fun, engaging, and beneficial to their clients. The SLPs at Columbus Speech & Hearing Center have created a list of some favorite tele-friendly activities, and they can also be used with parents at home! 

Mad Libs

  • A quick Google search will allow you to find endless Mad Libs to complete at home! Work on reading, writing, sentence grammar (verbs, adjectives, plural nouns, word order…), story elements (characters, setting, problem, solution…) and more while creating silly and fun stories. 

What’s in the Bag?

  • Grab a grocery bag and take turns hiding different toys or objects from around the house inside. Whoever hides the object gives clues for the others to guess what it is! While playing this game you can practice describing (“It’s green, round, and you can eat it”), question asking (“Is it something from the kitchen?”), and perspective taking (Does the guesser have enough information? Do I need to tell them more?). 

Digital Spinners

  • Does your child need to practice some speech articulation sounds? Check out this FREE resource! Go to TeachersPayTeachers.com and search for “Free Speech and Language Digital Spinners”. Our therapists make great use of these and say that their clients love them, too! 

Trivia

  • Head to UsefulTrivia.com to find all sorts of trivia topics! From sports to comic books and many topics in between, this website is perfect for school-aged kids who are working on answering Wh- questions (who, what, when, where, why, how), creating complete sentences, or just for fun! 

Rory’s Story Cubes

  • This educational game has endless possibilities – and you do not need to be a speech therapist to take full advantage! Follow the directions included with the game to work on language skills, imagination expansion, concentration, and more. See who can make the funniest or scariest story! Available at StoryCubes.com, Amazon, and Target. 

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

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