Collaborating with occupational therapists and exploring sensory strategies has helped me have more productive sessions with the children who can’t seem to sit still or who have sensory processing disorder.
What are sensory bins?
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. You can make them themed for the time of year or for a particular unit. There are tons of sensory bin ideas online if you need inspiration. Here’s a Pinterest board I have specially dedicated to this topic to get your creative juices flowing! I also compiled a list of many more filler ideas that aren’t as messy and are easier to clean-up (compared to beans and rice).
Why I love sensory bins!
Sensory bins are different from anything else I use in therapy so they are a welcome change and great way to mix things up. Kids LOVE them! Sensory bins are engaging and hands-on fun. And they easily make a boring activity fun with minimal preparation. And we are allll about that, right!? I always have a sensory bin ready to go and am able to quickly throw in drill cards or other artic/language targets.
I have used sensory bins for tiny ones targeting joint attention – playing with me, making eye contact, imitating actions (scooping, shaking, etc), or practicing simple verbs (in, out, open, close). I use them for older kids as well by hiding their therapy targets to find – for example, articulation cards, task cards, toy people to practice pronouns, wind-up toys, or anything that they are working on that will fit!
If I know motivation will be a factor, I put in fun things to find between pulling out those artic cards and doing trials. Try hiding cars, tokens, pennies, mini figurines…whatever is going to be exciting for your student. It’s a fast, fun motivator for the students to see how many they can collect!
Sensory bins have become such an integral part of my sessions that I began making materials specifically for them! Check them all out HERE!
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