Sensory play is a fantastic and underutilized tool to use in speech therapy. Use these ideas to stimulate language, social skills, and motor skills! The more senses we can incorporate, the better children are able to learn and the more they are able to retain. Not only does sensory play help to stimulate the senses, but it also engages the child to build a wide range of skills, including speech and language.
It’s also a lot of fun, with endless possibilities! I share lots of sensory play activity ideas on my Instagram page, so I’ve rounded up a few of my favorites to get you started.
These bottles are filled with various materials to encourage sensory play – but without the mess! They are also a great way for children to experience materials that are otherwise too small for them to play with.
Sensory bins are a tactile experience in a container usually filled with beans, rice, noodles, beads, corn, water beads, or sand. They are extremely easy and can be inexpensive to make. I like to use Sterilite plastic bins with lids, but you can use any container and any size. Then add any filler and any objects – toys, spoons, strainers, plastic eggs, rakes.
Kinetic sand is amazing because it doesn’t behave like normal sand – it sticks to itself. I’m amazed at how long kinetic sand holds kids’ attention. You can put anything in it! Shovels, scoopers, buckets, play people, potato head parts. Work on verbs, attention, problem-solving, imitating actions, requesting, descriptors, following directions…
You can even make a whole “town” or play scene like pictured below.
Play Dough or Putty
Play dough is a great sensory experience. You can even use putty that has a thinner or thicker consistency depending on your student. I really enjoy using play dough mats to give more structured play with play dough. Use them as an open-ended reinforcer, to work on nouns and pronouns, emotions, vocabulary, descriptors, following directions, or giving directions! I laminate them back-to-back to make them sturdier. Download my play dough mats FREE!
Colored Rice & Manipulatives
This one is messy, but a lot of fun! To prep the colored rice, add one teaspoon of vinegar for every cup of white rice in a Tupperware or plastic bag. Add in your food dye and shake it up to coat the rice for a couple of minutes. Spread it on a paper towel to dry and you’re ready to add your trinkets! Put it in a sensory bin, bottle, or even a cookie sheet. Pair it with sand toys to work on imitating play actions or verbs, such as scoop, dump, or shake.
Sensory play without the mess! These are especially fun in the sunlight. Shine a flashlight through them or look through them. There are lots of descriptors you can work on, for example, colors, shaking “fast” and “slow.” I love these sturdy and colorful rainbow blocks – you can find them on my favorites list on Amazon.
Water play provides many language opportunities, tactile learning, pretend play, and fine motor skills. Use this toddler favorite to work on imitating sounds, making requests, turn-taking, verbs, and descriptive vocabulary. You also don’t need to use water – put in kinetic sand, rice, or any other sensory filler.
I hope this gave you some more fun sensory play activity ideas to incorporate into your sessions or classroom.
What are your favorite sensory play activities?
Discover more sensory play activity ideas from posts shared on my speech.allisonfors Instagram account:
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