As a Speech-Language Pathologist, finding new and engaging ways to target different speech and language goals with students can be a challenge at times. However, sensory bins are a fantastic tool for SLPs to use during therapy sessions. Sensory bins are play-based activities that allow children to explore different textures, colors, and objects while also targeting various speech and language goals. One of my favorite sensory bins to use during spring is one based around the story, “Little Blue Truck.”
Using Sensory Bins in Speech and Language Therapy
Sensory bins are a great way to incorporate play into therapy sessions, which can be more engaging for children than traditional therapy techniques. Additionally, sensory bins can help children stay focused and engaged when working in a group setting, as they provide a calming sensory experience that can help children regulate their emotions and behaviors. In addition, sensory bins are interactive for students and make it easy to target different speech or language goals.
The Little Blue Truck Sensory Bin
One excellent sensory bin for SLPs to use (especially during spring season) is a sensory bin based on the popular children’s book, “Little Blue Truck.” The bin can be made using materials such as Easter grass, beans, farm animal figurines, and toy trucks. This sensory bin can be used to target several speech and language goals, including story retell, animal noises, concepts, following directions, articulation, grammar, and expanding mean length of utterance (MLU), and vocabulary. Let’s break down how to target each of these 7 goal areas using this sensory bin.
1. Story Retell
Story retell is an important skill for children to develop, as it requires them to remember and sequence important events from a story using comprehension skills. The Little Blue Truck sensory bin can be used to target story retell by having children act out scenes from the book using the figurines and truck. Children can also use the truck to move the animals around and retell the story in their own words.
2. Animal Noises
Animal noises are another skill that can be targeted using this sensory bin. Children can practice making different animal noises as they play with the farm animal figurines. This activity can be particularly beneficial for children who struggle with phonological awareness, as it requires them to listen to and produce different sounds.
3. Concepts (Empty/ Full)
Try targeting the speech skill of identifying concepts such as empty and full with this sensory activity. You can ask children to fill the truck with different amounts of beans and then ask questions such as, “Is the truck full or empty?” or “How many beans are in the truck?” This activity can help children understand and use these concepts during daily life.
4. Following Directions
Following directions is another skill that can be targeted using this Little Blue Truck sensory bin. Try giving children directions such as, “Put the cow in the truck” or “Take out the pig,” and have them follow the directions using the figurines and truck. This helps children improve their receptive language skills and their ability to follow multi-step directions. So many action words here to target too!
Articulation is yet another skill that can be targeted using this Little Blue Truck sensory bin. Choose farm animal figurines that have the child’s target sound or add mini objects to the bin that contains the target sound. The child can then practice producing the target sound as they play with the bin.
6. Grammar and Expanding Mean Length of Utterance
Grammar and expanding mean length of utterance (MLU) are two important language skills that can also be worked on using this spring sensory bin. As children play with the farm animal figurines and truck, you can model phrases that include target grammar structures, such as pronouns, prepositions, and verb tenses. For example, you could model the phrase, “The cow is in the truck,” to target the use of the verb “is” and the preposition “in.”
Expanding mean length of utterance (MLU) refers to increasing the length and complexity of a child’s sentences. Try using this sensory bin to target this skill by having children create longer and more complex sentences as they play with the figurines and truck. For example, you could prompt a child to say, “The cow is in the truck with the pig,” which includes two nouns, a verb, and a preposition.
The last skill to talk about targeting is vocabulary. As noted earlier, children with developmental language disorder need three times the exposure to vocabulary than typically developing peers. Using this sensory bin provides an excellent opportunity for SLPs to model new vocabulary words as children play with the farm animal figurines and truck. Modeling is the best way to introduce vocabulary to students. SLPs can use words related to the book, such as “blue,” “truck,” “animals,” and “farm,” as well as more advanced words related to the theme, such as “barn,” “moo,” “oink,” and “cluck.”
The Little Blue Truck Sensory Bin is Fun and Engaging
It’s important to note that while this sensory bin based around the story, “The Little Blue Truck” is a fun and engaging activity for children, it should also be tailored to each child’s individual needs and goals. You can easily adjust the level of difficulty by adding or removing certain elements from the bin, using more or less complex language, or focusing on different speech and language goals. Overall, watch your students have fun and you will see their speech skills start to emerge during this play activity!
More Fun Sensory Bins for Speech and Language
Check out these other posts about more sensory bins to try with your students!
“Too Many Carrots” Sensory Bin
Articulation Garden: Interactive Sensory Tub
Taste-Safe Sensory Bin Filler Ideas
Will you be using sensory bins during speech and language sessions?
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