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Sensory Toys & Language Skills

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Play based therapy is great to target so many language skills!  Based on a child’s interests and areas of need, I have seen increased engagement when I include a variety of toys, including sensory toys.  I am always looking for fun sensory toys to add to my toy bin! I was excited to learn about Sensory TheraPlay and so thankful for them gifting me a box to use! This monthly subscription box was founded by an occupational therapist who chooses sensory items with intent for these fun boxes!  The toys selected each month are either therapists favorite toys, toys with positive feedback from parents, or toys already known to be kids favorites!  The toy boxes were created for children with autism and with sensory processing needs but can be used by many children for a variety of purposes. The box comes with an information sheet describing the contents and how sensory/motor needs can be met or incorporated with each toy! 

Today on the blog i’m sharing the toys that came in the June Sensory TheraPlay box and examples of how you can target a variety of language skills with toys! 

The first toy is the Find It!® game! This game is so much fun! Kids love searching for the hidden objects.  There are so many language skills that can be targeted while using this game.  A few examples include expanding utterances, core vocabulary, receptive identification and answering wh- questions!

For expanding utterances, talk about what you see by pairing the toy with a visual sentence strip (i.e. “I see___.” or “I like___.”).  It is easy to incorporate a variety of core vocabulary (see, like, want, etc.) when playing with and talking about this toy.   As kids shake the toy, they will see a variety of mini objects inside of the container. After you provide a model or the child independently states what they see (i.e. “I see a rubber band”), build on what they see by asking additional questions.  You can ask a variety of wh- questions.  For example, you can ask about what the object is, who uses it and where it can be found.  Also work on attributes by describing the color, texture or size of the object they find. You can talk about the category the object belongs in and other items that go with that category.  Target receptive identification by indicating a specific object for the child to point to (i.e. “point to the balloon”).  

Smiley Squeeze Ball, Lizard Squishimal, Party Puppy & Spin Cube. 

Other toys included in the box were a squeeze ball, lizard squishimal and party puppy toy.  I always keep a storage box full of sensory toys that are a variety of sizes and textures.  To work on requesting, I first put a lid on the box to sabotage the environment to encourage requesting.  For kids working on requesting who are not at an independent level, model “open box” or “I want box open”.  Once the box is open, have children request the toy they prefer (i.e. “I want lizard”).  For children working on following directions with a variety of concepts have them select their favorite toy and then give them a direction to follow with the toy (i.e. “put the dog under your chair” or “put two toys on top of the box”).  In addition to a fun smiley squeeze ball, squishy lizard and puppy, this box also contained a spinner toy.  The spin cube is the perfect toy to be used as a fidget.  I’ve seen many children increase their accuracy and attention on the task, when they were holding a fidget toy. The spinner can also be incorporated into a game, by allowing a chance to “spin” the toy after taking a turn practicing language targets. 

I love incorporating toys into therapy and can target almost any goal with them!  For many of my children, sensory toys help with engagement.

What are your favorite language goals to target with sensory toys and in play based therapy? 

Check out Sensory TheraPlay to learn more about these awesome boxes!

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I only share products I love!  All opinions are my own and should not be taken as evaluation, treatment or therapy advice. This blog post is for informational purposes only.  Please consult a licensed speech-language pathologist with any speech and/or language concerns.

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Natalie

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