Working collaboratively with occupational therapists throughout my career, I have seen firsthand the benefits of incorporating sensory activities into speech and language therapy sessions. We learn through our sensory exploration of dry/ wet and heavy/ light as we touch these items through play. Some of these textures in particular can be quite calming, which you may have observed yourself while holding onto smooth, warm stones during manicures or digging through the sand to build a castle at the beach. When we add language to these sensory experiences, the play becomes much more meaningful and we are more likely to retain what we learned from such a rich opportunity.
Then, I bought a couple bags of kidney beans at the grocery store and dumped those in the other end of the table. This side is so much fun because we can fill tin containers and use them as shakers, dump and pour beans, and pretend to feed the animals hidden in the petals.
I picked up a heart shape tin and mini mailbox from the Target Dollar spot and added an empty Hershey's chocolate candy tin that my husband recently brought back from a trip to China, which is everyone's favorite! I had at least ten, mini, foam hearts from previous Valentine Days that I'm hiding under beans to dig out and count as we "deliver" them in the mailbox.
How do I use this table to meet speech and language goals you ask? First, I hold at least three animals up and ask the client to "Get" a target animal to feed some beans for a receptive/ comprehension drill. I'm also trying to incorporate using a client's new voice output device to name animals for an expressive vocabulary task. We are using the shakers while singing favorite songs as I pause to see if clients can either fill in sounds, words, or gestures. Finally, we count the hearts while filling the mailbox. "Working" in the sensory table allows me to model actions paired with words like: pour, eat, dig, hide, and mix.
I love starting my sessions at this table because it's fun, functional, and calming!! I think the kids are enjoying it too!