Therapy Tip of the Week for 2.7.12

Here’s this week’s segment –




2.7.12 Valentine’s Day Sensory Boxes

This week’s activity features ideas to help you target your therapy goals with a Valentine’s Day sensory box.

Begin with a medium to large sturdy plastic container. Select a filler such as beans, rice, pasta, shredded paper, or any other material that would be fun to feel. Include a couple of “tools.” Toddlers love spoons of all sizes, measuring cups, and small shovels.

One fun trend is to add objects related to a central language theme. Since this is for Valentine’s Day I added heart-shaped stickers, blocks, small and large foam pieces, stirring sticks, glitter wands, beads, bracelets, squishy fidgets, muffin papers, and small cups. Be creative!

But also be safe! Carefully supervise any child who still mouths objects to prevent choking.

Sensory bins can be used to address a variety of goals in therapy. Here are some ideas. A child will:

1. Build attention and participation. Include objects you know will appeal to a child’s sensory preferences. If he?s a visual kid, pick cool things for him to look at and explore. If he’s a kid who likes to pinch and pull, add squishy figdets.

2. Exhibit joint attention. Make yourself at least as fun as the stuff! Sit across from him and interject yourself into his space. Play along to keep yourself relevant.

3.  Imitate actions to increase reciprocity and turn taking. Provide two sets of tools –  one for him and one for you – so that you can dig as he digs and pour as he pours.

4. Find new ways to regulate his sensory system. Busy kids calm down with these tactile activities. Flat kids rev up their low arousal systems.

5.  Improve cognitive skills. Include sets of small objects for sorting, matching, or counting (ugh!). Add separate cups for each set of material you’ll sort.

6. Demonstrate fine motor skills. Stir. Pour. Scoop. This is super practice for kids who are also working on self-feeding. You can also practice all of those prewriting skills – peel paper off stickers, operate tongs, stack smaller blocks, yada yada yada.

7. Understand new words. Go beyond labeling the nouns! Target new comprehension targets with prepositions (in, out, on, off, under), new verbs (pat, squeeze, squish, scoop, dig, dump, pour, shake, hide, etc?), and new descriptive words (BEYOND COLOR WORDS!). Try shiny, pretty, size words big/little, yucky, squishy, etc.

8. Say new words. Don’t forget your exclamatory words  whee, wow, whoa, and boo (as you find hidden objects). Create verbal routines to build automatic speech so kids learn to fill in the blank with your cute routines such as “Scoop. In. Scoop. In. Scoop. ____.”

Target holistic phrases such as: I did it, I got it, Where (did) it go, There it is!

Work on simple phrase patterns such as “My + ____” as you teasingly take an object a child wants or “Bye bye + _____ as you hide the objects.”

I could go on and on.

I love sensory boxes, and I love holiday related therapy activities!

Happy Valentine’s Day from!!


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