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Friday, January 12, 2018

How to Create a Winter Sensory Bin

Children of all ages enjoy sensory play, and winter is the perfect season to explore learning opportunities through the 5 senses. By using taste, touch, sight, smell, and sound, children develop their cognitive, language, social, emotional and motor skills. Sensory play can also help children calm down and focus for other learning activities that require sustained attention, such as story time. 

So what do you think of when you think of winter? I think of snow, snowmen, penguins, polar bears, ice crystals, snowball fights, snow angels, and even hot chocolate. Brainstorming from these possible themes can lead to the creation of some exceptional sensory bins to supplement any book unit or play opportunity.

In this post, I want to share with you my winter sensory bin and give you a few ideas on sensory bins you can create around your winter themes. 

The first thing you will need is a bin, tub, or container. I use a large under-the-bed box in my speech therapy office and then I also have a portable sensory bin that I take with me to my off campus preschool setting with 3 and 4 year olds. I purchased a Latchmate Turquoise Storage Box from Michael's. This box has a tray and latches on the sides for easy storage and transporting. The tray is perfect for organizing picture cards and small items you may want to keep separated. Amazon also has a similar 2-Tier Craft Supply Box. The prices are very comparable. 

Next, you will need to decide on a base for your bin. You can use beans, rice, water beads, sand, shredded paper and even water. For my winter sensory bin, I used dried white beans and cotton balls. My students love to scoop and pour beans into containers and cups. When there is snow on the ground, scoop up a bucket full of snow and let your students wear their mittens while experimenting with the snow.

Be creative in what you add next to your sensory bin. Depending on your theme or related book, you can add story props, stuffed animals and toys, ice cream scoops, cups, mini erasers, or felt pieces with sticks to create your own snowmen. 

Here are a few of my favorite winter books that can easily be paired with a winter sensory bin. Book units for There was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow!Sneezy the Snowman, and Bear Snores On are available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Articulation cards, story visuals for sequence and retell, comprehension questions and story props can easily be stored in the portable tray.

Some of my other winter favorites are Snowmen at Night, The Biggest Snowman Ever, and Tacky the Penguin.

Pairing adapted interactive books with sensory bins is a great way to facilitate interest in books. I take the pictures off of the Velcro(TM) and hide them in the beans. Students search for the pictures and attach them to the book during reading activities.

Click HERE to link to my winter adapted book.

In this post I've given you some fun ideas for creating winter sensory bins. There are many ways to connect literacy with sensory bins in your speech therapy sessions. Have you used sensory play in your therapy? Leave a comment and share this post with someone you think can benefit from these ideas. 

If you enjoyed this post, link to these related posts on using play and sensory-based learning activities to build language skills. 

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*Amazon affiliate links are included in this post.

*To purchase gently used copies of books mentioned in this post search Thriftbooks by clicking on the following link: Used books for as low as $3 each

(Any purchase from Amazon or Thriftbooks links may result in a small monetary profit to My Speech Tools at no extra cost to you).
Lisa, SLP

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