Communication Matters

How Sensory Play Helps Developmental Skills

Speech therapy child

Imagine a cool, fall day. The windows are open and a light breeze is coming through from the lake. As the breeze comes in, you begin to smell a cinnamon apple pie baking in the oven, just like your grandmother would make.

It is remarkable how your senses can activate your memory. They can take you back to a specific time and place so quickly, or help you recall an experience with explicit detail. They connect all the dots. Incorporating sensory play with your child's activities can encourage him or her to use their senses: touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing. It allows children to discover and investigate the world around them by building nerve connections, which increases a child’s ability to understand. It can also improve language development, social skills, critical thinking skills, fine motor skills, and gross motor skills.

Using sensory play in speech therapy or during home carryover activities can create an environment where learning becomes engaging and hands-on. Research has shown that using a multi-sensory approach to learning new language tasks can have a positive impact on a child’s motivation as well as increase their knowledge retention.

There are a variety of ways to use sensory play to acquire a new skill set. One example is through the use of sensory bins, which can be simple and inexpensive to make.

  1. Use a plastic container, large enough to allow your child to move the contents without spilling.
  2. Fill the bin with an item such as rice, beans, sand, shaving cream, cut up straws, beads, cotton balls, buttons, etc.
  3. Then, add in items such as toys, speech sound cards, pictures, etc. for your child to find. A large range of skill sets can be targeted through this one simple task, including articulation skills, vocabulary and even target joint attention.

Using sensory bins can be successful in increasing your child's sentence length by modeling phrases and sentences for him or her to imitate. You can also work on following directions and so much more!

If you have concerns about your child’s speech or language development, contact the Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center for assistance.

Tags: Speech, Communication, Learning, toddler, talking

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