Hands-on learning is important for children. Kids get more out of life experiences when they use their senses. It is important to remember this when you are working on lesson plans for sessions with an individual child or group of students. While many may think that sensory tools would only be used with children who are meeting with an occupational therapist, it is not true. These days, many incorporate sensory tools and projects into a variety of therapy sessions. The rationale for this is that many children have sensory integration concerns and it helps them.
Sensory bottles are popular for children. They may be used to work on calming techniques for a child who is having sensory overload. Sensory bottles are also portable and able to go to classrooms, therapy sessions, and home for students to use when they need them. Take some time to make sensory bottles with students. To make sensory bottles all you need are some clear bottles. A great tutorial is available from No Time for Flash Cards. If you do not want to do the color mixing bottle in the tutorial, you can place almost anything inside the bottles. This helps with fine motor skills for children working on that. If you make sensory bottles ahead of time, they can have themes or talking points. These may be used for speech and language practice, during a social skills group, or any other type of therapy.
A less portable sensory tool is a tabletop or bin which can be changed out to explore new items. Sensory tables and bins may be used to integrate fine motor, sensory seeking, speech, and any other goals a child may be working on. In addition to this, allowing a child to dive into a table may help them to talk more during a visit with a social worker or another counselor. The We-Made-That blog has a fun sensory page with sensory bins which include food, whip cream, water, and other ideas to help you get started. Use one of these and make it work with the needs of your students.
If you send a sensory tool home, therapists should be sure to write directions for the families to understand how they should be used therapeutically for their child. Include directions for multilingual families that include tips, tricks, and ways to incorporate it at home to work on skills or calming techniques.