It’s funny how much an SLP’s caseload can change from one year to the next – even within the same district, or even the same building! One of the challenges I have this year is that I have more younger students on my caseload than I have had in a long time. My traditional therapy approach – sitting at the table and working on one or two activities for 20-30 minutes just isn’t very motivating for these students, so I knew I had to start changing things up in therapy!
After doing some research, I decided to try making a few sensory bins in different themes to help target a variety of goals. These have been a huge hit with my students, so today, I want to share with you how to make some of your own!
- First, choose a theme. (Tip: think about what therapy materials you already have. Do you have several picture books about the jungle or winter?) Here are some examples:
- Seasons (winter, spring, summer, fall)
- Holidays (Valentine’s day, Thanksgiving, etc.)
- General themes (farm, jungle, pets, ocean, zoo, garden, outer space, etc.)
- Then, you need to start with a container. I found clear shoeboxes from the Container Store that have worked well for me, but you could use any type of container. If you plan on storing it between sessions, I highly recommend using a container with a lid that fits well. If you don’t need to store it, then you could use any sort of tray or box.
- Next, you need a base for your container. Depending on your theme, you might choose different materials – for example, for a winter themed bin, you probably want to choose something that is white to resemble snow. (Also, consider the needs of your students here – do you have any students that might try to eat the items? Do you have any students that may struggle with a heavier weight of container?) There are a lot of different materials to consider, including:
- cotton balls
- pom pom balls
- shredded paper
- Easter grass
- plastic rocks or “crystals”
- small rocks
- Then, add items that match your theme. For example:
- plastic animal figurines
- action figures (make sure to have both male and female if you would like to target pronouns)
- small stuffed animals
- party decorations (such sparkly snowflakes, googly eyes, or hearts)
- small erasers
- You can also add “tools” like a small scoop or shovel to add to the fun!
- Pronouns (ex: talk about what the different figures are doing)
- Following directions (ex: “Show me the lion, then show me the zebra.”)
- Basic concepts (ex: “Find the biggest snowflake!”)
- Prepositions (ex: “Put the dolphin next to the shell.”)
- Expanding utterances
- Verb tenses – present, past, and future
The Dabbling Speechie has some great posts on her blog about sensory bins, too, so make sure to check them out here!
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