Themed Sensory Bins for Speech Therapy
Have you ever used sensory bins in your speech therapy sessions? Using themed bins are a great way to target a variety of language goals. Sensory bins are the perfect opportunity to use specific themes to make planning easier.
I love targeting a variety of goals with sensory bins. You can make seasonal sensory bins (winter, spring, summer, fall) or make themed sensory bin activities to pair with other specific themes that work year-round (i.e. sports, camping, community helpers, baking, ocean, zoo, pets, etc.)
How to make speech-language therapy sensory bins
To make a sensory bin you first need to decide what bin or container you want to use. I love using task card size boxes, also known as “craft keeper” boxes. You can find them at Michaels and on Amazon. You could also use any size plastic storage container (i.e. tupperware). My favorite bins are something with a lid that allows me to close and store the prepped sensory bin! Next, you have to decide what base material to use. There are so many options when it comes to deciding on the different materials to pick between for your bin filler.
Base materials for themed sensory bins
Some ideas for sensory bin fillers in no particular order are: pom poms, cotton balls, black beans, cut-up straws, pipe cleaners, rocks, shells, sand, paper shred, artificial grass, craft feathers, mini objects, mini erasers, confetti, Easter grass, kinetic sand, building blocks, and playdoh.
When selecting sensory bin fillers I try to incorporate a variety of different textures. Not only are sensory bins great for targeting language development goals but pairing the sensory bin fillers with a variety of tools (i.e. scoops, tongs, etc.) is great for practicing fine motor skills!
Budget friendly sensory bin base items
Making sensory bins on a budget is possible if you shop around! My FAVORITE place to grab sensory bin fillers inexpensively is at the Dollar Store. Depending on the season or holiday, you can find a lot of great themed sensory bin base materials. I’ve found small objects, themed glass table “scatter” (i.e. acorns and leaves for fall), tons of paper shreds in a variety of colors (ie. green for grass, blue for water), cotton balls, straws, colorful pom poms and more at my dollar store! A few other great places to look for sensory bin materials are Target, Walmart, and Amazon!
Below is a list of sensory bin theme ideas by season paired with sensory bin base ideas:
Winter: cotton balls, white cut-up paper
Spring: colorful pom poms, Easter grass, green paper shred
Summer: blue paper shred, mini ocean animals, sand
Fall: leaves, feathers
Using sensory bins in speech therapy for a variety of goals
Sensory bins are great for play based speech therapy. They can be used with younger students as well as older ones. They encourage imaginative play, allow for sensory exploration, and allow for a wide range of goal areas to be targeted such as articulation goals, following directions, basic concepts (spatial concepts, temporal concepts, qualitative concepts, quantitative concepts, etc.), social skills, and more!
Describing attributes with sensory bins
You can use printed stimuli or you can put mini objects below the filler and have students find the hidden items. Hiding mini objects is an easy way to target describing attributes (i.e. location, category, what something looks like, etc.)
Targeting basic concepts with sensory bins
One of my favorite language goal areas to target with sensory bins is basic concepts. One of my best sellers, Basic Concepts Growing Bundle (picture scenes + basic concept bin activities), includes materials to make sensory bins along with prompts. The prompt sheets target spatial concepts, qualitative concepts, quantitative concepts, sequential directions, and wh questions (who, what, when, and where questions). Sensory bins are great for working on following directions with a variety of basic concepts!
In my basic concepts growing bundle, picture stimuli are included that can be prepped with a few minutes of time and are perfect for putting in your sensory bins! Want to try an entire basic concepts (bin + picture scene activities) for free?! Enter your name and email below to be sent the entire Zoo Basic Concepts Freebie Unit!
Let’s make a mini sensory bin together!
I wanted you to be able to try the same type of resource as what is included in my Basic Concepts Growing Bundle (Basic Concept Bin + Picture Scene Activities). This FREE Zoo Basic Concepts Unit has printable picture manipulatives and prompt sheet to make your very own bin!
First, find a bin you would like to use. Pictured is a 4×6 task card size bin.
Second, pick a base filler. In the photo below I cut green pipe cleaners from the Dollar Tree to look like grass in the Zoo.
Third, prep the pictures by printing, laminating, and cutting them out. Laminating the pictures up front will allow for longer use since sensory bin items usually get a lot of handling. The laminated pictures can also be easily wiped down or sprayed to sanitize if ever needed!
Last, after you have the sensory bin container, base filler, and prepared stimuli pictures, put the pictures in the bin either propped or hidden under the filler. Use the provided corresponding “basic concepts bin” prompt sheet to target following directions with basic concepts!
Basic Concepts and Following Directions for Speech Therapy
Do you want year-round themed sensory bins for speech therapy already planned for you? Do you have a lot of students working on following directions with basic concepts? Check out my basic concepts growing bundle! This bundle currently includes 6 themed bin and picture scene units and will include a total of 13 units when complete!
Sensory bin play is always a huge hit! Sensory bins can be used to target so many language areas (basic concepts, following directions, wh- questions, following directions, social skills, verbs, pronouns, and more)! Pairing the sensory bin base item with different themes and stimuli cards or mini objects makes them an easy-to-prep activity! Students love the sensory play hands-on activities and being able to see what they can find in the bin.
Due to the nature of small items often used in sensory bins, it is important to select items based on each individual student and be aware of choking hazards. Some items may not be appropriate for each student and individuals’ risks as well as age should be taken into consideration before using items to make your bins.
Don’t forget to grab the entire FREE Zoo Basic Concept Unit (Bin + Picture Scene Activities) by entering you first name and email below!