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Sensory Bins

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For this activity, you will need a bin, preferably one with a cover, to foster having your child make requests/ask as opposed to reaching into an open bin and taking desired items. Also, you need something to use as a fill. Here is where you can get creative and use some nearly expired dry goods that you were about to toss. Some examples of sensory bin fills are:

  • Assorted, dry pasta
  • Straws cut into thirds
  • Decorative straw typically used in gift bags
  • Dried beans
  • Cotton balls
  • Sand
  • Play dough

Sensory bins are a fantastic way to liven just about any play task, such as puzzles, mini objects, Mr. Potato Heads, blocks, pretend play, and flashcards. Below is a breakdown on the speech and language targets you can address using sensory bins:

  • Matching object to picture with puzzles:  There’s just something exciting about searching for puzzle pieces hidden in a sensory bin rather than just dumping the parts onto a table.
  • Answering basic questions with mini objects:  Mini objects are everywhere at home! You could use doll house figures; Fisher Price play set items; wind-up toys; or a variety of matchbox/ pull back vehicles. In this sensory bin, partially hide items to allow for visible answer choices and coaching parents to ask: “Where is the car?” or “What can we drive?”
  • Mr. Potato Head: Target identifying or expressing body parts with this classic toy. Again, partially hide objects for visible, answer choices.
  • Blocks: Duplo, Legos, or wooden blocks will work fine in a sensory bin. Address color recognition/ naming; early prepositions like “up”, “on”, “off”, or following directions.
  • Pretend play: You can use beans and mini work trucks to create a construction truck bin or garden for planting fake flowers into mini pots. You and your speech pathologist could brainstorm something based on your child’s likes and interests.
  • Vocabulary pictures/flashcards: Dig flashcards out of a sensory bin to work on building expressive vocabulary and/or speech sound targets. For functional vocabulary, I have suggested cutting out pictures on cardboard, food containers or toy boxes and using these items in a sensory bin.