Sensory bins are a great addition to any SLP classroom, but they don’t have to stay the same all year long. Mixing it up a little based on holidays or seasons will help keep the students on your caseload engaged and focused throughout the school year. I am so excited to share with you some of my favorite tips and tricks for using sensory bins this Halloween season and beyond.
WHAT ARE SENSORY BINS?
Sensory bins are learning activities that provide students with hands-on opportunities to explore with tactile learning. As students dig through a sensory bin they look for cards or objects that relate to a specific theme or skill. By changing out the skill cards or objects a sensory bin can be a very versatile activity.
This increased sensory input provides opportunities for multi-sensory learning and can be easily including objects that help stimulate a student’s senses. Sensory bins are great for all students but are especially great for students who have sensory processing disorder (SPD).
WHAT GOALS CAN I TARGET USING SENSORY BINS?
Sensory bins aren’t just for play. They are actually a great way for you to help your students work on several of their speech-language goals at the same time.
Here are 5 goals you can easily target using sensory bins:
- FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS & BASIC CONCEPTS: Take “out” a (purple) pumpkin…Look “under” the (orange) spider….
- LABELING NOUNS & ACTIONS: Throw in some vocabulary cards or mini objects for students to name
- CATEGORIES: Sort objects or cards by color, shape, category (food, animals, etc.)
- EXPANDING UTTERANCES: Put the word into a sentence (don’t forget to use some adjectives!)
- ARTICULATION: Hide objects or cards focusing on the speech sounds you want to target.
Sensory bins are a great way to engage students in some serious skills based practice. With the interactive nature it will feel more like play to them, but we know just how much work they are doing!
PUTTING TOGETHER YOUR HALLOWEEN SENSORY BINS
Sensory bins are super easy to make and don’t have to cost an arm and a leg to put together.
A trip to your local discount store or Target Dollar Spot section can give you limitless options for your bins. With simple materials like sand, uncooked pasta, beans, plastic toys, black beans, rice, erasers, or cotton balls, you can engage your students in a fun, sensory based activity.
Sensory bins can be as big or small as you want them to be. You can use a plastic container or even an old pencil box for your sensory bins. It really just depends on the amount of storage space you have available.
Creating a sensory bin on a smaller scale, like the one pictured above inside a pencil box, is perfect for traveling SLPs to bring with them as they move from room to room or school to school. It doesn’t have to be large to engage students and provide the same sensory input.
1. START WITH YOUR BASE
When you set-up a sensory bin your base would be the substance that most of the bin is filled with. While some common bases include sand and water, there are many more options to choose from. Beans, dried pasta, cut up straws, and rice all provide an inexpensive option for base material. Similarly, silk flowers, water beads, cotton balls and shaving cream can all be base materials too!
For a Halloween themed sensory bin I like my base item to really set the tone with traditional Halloween colors like orange, black and purple. Items like black beans, colored rice (dyed with food color), or that shredded paper for gift bags in orange and purple paper all make a great base materials.
2. ADD ACCESSORIES
Once your base is in place, you can add accessory items. These might include small toys, items related to the bin theme, or tools for fine motor skill development like tweezers and tongs.
These Halloween sensory bins include some Halloween toys and trinkets to give that spooky feel. Mini-erasers, small Halloween decorations, and toys all make great accessories in a sensory bin. These Halloween accessories are a great way to get students excited about the sensory bin activity.
I picked up all of the supplies for this sensory bin at Target in the Dollar Spot section! For just a couple of dollars my students have an engaging, spooky activity that they love using.
3. LEARNING OBJECTS
The final pieces to include in your sensory bin are your learning objects. These learning objects might be your accessories, or they might be additional cards or objects. These should relate to or provide the basis for the learning activity or skills practice your students are working on.
It’s difficult to tell you what to include as learning objects because your sensory bin could be customized for literally any skill or concept.
Many times I will use vocabulary cards or activity cards from my Grab N’ Go Speech Therapy resources as the learning objects in the sensory bin. These laminated cards provide the skills based learning activity and can easily be changed out between therapy sessions to help meet individual client needs.
HALLOWEEN AND BEYOND
I personally love having themes for my sensory bins. Not only do they really engage the students, but it also allows me to change them up and keep things fresh for my students all year long. Storing them in plastic tubs in my garage or classroom cabinet with labels helps me keep them organized throughout the year.
If you are short of storage space don’t store the bins in their container. Instead store the base items and accessories in zip-lock bags labeled with the holiday or theme. Then just change out the materials in the bin.
Don’t feel like you need to go out and assemble all of your sensory bins at one time. If you are just starting out, pick a few seasonal bins you can start with and build on throughout the year.
Hitting the stores AFTER the holidays means you can find killer deals on themed objects for Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, Back-To-School, Fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and more!
I created this Halloween sensory bin with small Halloween themed decorations from the Dollar Store.
SENSORY BINS FOR THE WIN!
Sensory bins are always a huge hit with the students on my caseload. When I pull out my themed bins, my student’s eyes light up and they are always super excited to dig in and get started.
Sensory bins are seriously some of my favorite tools to use throughout the school year. They are great for any grade and ability level and can be tailored to fit your student’s needs. I hope you are feeling excited to try sensory bins with your students this year.
SAVE THESE HALLOWEEN SENSORY BIN IDEAS!
Be sure to pin this to your favorite Pinterest board so you can come back anytime for fun and engaging sensory bin ideas!