Children learn by using their senses. Kids who have communication disorders may also have sensory integration concerns. If you are working with children who fall into this area, it is often a good idea to check in with their Occupational Therapist. Work as a team to come up with ways to work on goals together. Double teaming on skills will not only help the child, but also add interesting new possibilities within your sessions together. The following ideas can be used in conjunction with lessons that focus on articulation, vocabulary building, speech pragmatics, fluency, and more. Tailor each of them as needed for the children that you work with.
Table Top and Bin Ideas
Imagine the excitement of a lesson where children get to explore new items, actively engage in the activity, and practice their language skills at the same times. This is the beauty of sensory tables, bins, and cards. Each of these may be used to integrate fine motor, sensory seeking, and SLP goals at the same time. You may remember using shaving cream or whipped cream to draw letters on tables, or find mystery items in bins. Well, these days you can do that and more by creating different activities within water tables or smaller bins that can be taken from place to place.
The website 3 Dinosaurs has a wonderful Fall Sensory Bin activity that really put everything together and will inspire ideas for future activities. They filled a bin with a variety of fall items. In addition to this, they include fall word cards scattered into the mix. As children find cards, they could not only match them to a sheet, but for speech and language purposes use it in a sentence. The We-Made-That blog has a fun sensory page with sensory bins that include food, whipped cream, water, and other ideas to help you get started.
Sensory Bottle Play
While sensory bins may be practical for most locations, sometimes they are not. If you do not have a lot of space, need to keep areas tidy, or travel to session locations there is another great option. Sensory bottles are quite popular these days. In addition to this, the bottles can be left at centers for children to use again and again for reinforcement. To make sensory bottles, all you need are some clear bottles. Then, think about different items to fill inside. Any small objects work well alone. Furthermore, you may add different fluids or filled to hide items and make it more of a look and find game for older children. You can have a single item hidden, create a theme within your bottle, or make an experiment of sorts to talk with older children about. Each can create talking points, work on vocabulary, and more. A quick search on Pinterest will show you many more options and variations and tips to keep the bottles closed (using hot glue to secure the bottle top).
Do not forget that all of these activities can be tailored to do with specific themes, sounds, goals, and even holidays. Check in at home for special items that families may have to surprise children. Another home connect is to send home a sensory bottle, possibly one you make with children, or write directions to families on how to make their own. Be sure to include tips, tricks, and remind them to incorporate their child’s new vocabulary with other language spoken at home. Uniting the two in something fun will help them to embrace their multilingual identities.