Fun with Sensory Bins

by: Jessica Oppenhuizen, OTR/L
Occupational Therapist, Brightsong

Sensory bins are a great tool to have around the house for a variety of reasons. Not only do they provide calming input and encourage children to tolerate and identify a variety of textures, but they can promote speech and encourage fine motor development as well. It is easy to change out the items in the bin and re-introduce it for play that is long lasting and changes with the seasons (or by the week!).  The following includes a variety of options for a sensory bin with specific suggestions for a fall themed sensory bin. You can easily substitute both the base of the sensory bin as well as the items within the bin depending on your child and their preferences.

Suggestions for the “base” of the sensory bin:
Various dried beans
Assorted dry pasta

Suggestion for fall themed sensory bin:
Popcorn kernels
Leaves / Artificial Leaves
Small pinecones
Miniature pumpkins / Artificial pumpkins

Suggestions for items to mix in (the possibilities are truly endless!):
Small plastic animals/bugs/figurines
Magnetic letters
Pom Poms

How to encourage fine motor development with a sensory bin:
In order to provide an additional challenge to the sensory bin, include a fine motor utensil (tweezers, tongs, chop sticks, measuring cups, spoons, magnet wands, etc) and encourage child to pick up items from the bin using the fine motor utensil or use measuring cups/spoons to scoop items into other containers without spilling. This is a great, fun way to work on feeding skills indirectly as well!

How to encourage speech development with a sensory bin:
Encourage children to name items when they retrieve them from the bin. You can focus on different colors, letters, shapes, etc. and have children name them when they are retrieved. You can also count items from the bin and talk about “in” and “out” when scooping/removing items from and back to the bin. Children can also talk about how the items feel (soft, rough, etc.) when touching different textures.

So, gather some great fall items and have fun!

Posted in Fine Motor Skills, Holidays, Sensory Processing, Speech and Language Skills Tagged with: , ,