Therapy sessions are always more fun when activities are functional and interactive. To pair with some of the classroom themes, I decided to do a “gardening” theme this week. I compiled several different activities for the week, but ended up mainly using a sensory bin. As it turns out, this activity was really engaging and perfect for targeting a variety of speech and language skills!
I found all of the materials I needed for the bin at the dollar store. The best part is, I can use a lot of it again for other themes! Here is what you need to make a sensory garden:
- Filler- I used dried beans. These are brown, and better represented soil. You could use other colored beans, rice, or actual soil.
- Gardening tools- The dollar store has lots of plastic sand toys out right now. These are perfect and work for gardening as well! I purchased a three pack with a shovel, rake, and sand sifter. Even though there was no sand, some of my kids found creative ways to use the sifter!
- Watering can- I found a small plastic watering can at the dollar store. I used this to reinforce that plants need water to grow. I also printed a picture of the sun and laminated it. We spent lots of time learning that seeds need sun and water to grow!
- Plastic bin- This is one thing probably worth spending a little more money on. My dollar store bin doesn’t have the best seal!
- Pom-poms/Seeds- I used pom-poms to represent seeds. They are easier to see and didn’t get lost among the beans!
Once you have everything, you are ready to assemble it! I also printed pictures of flowers and carrots to “grow” in the garden. Here are some pictures of the finished product!
After growing things in the garden, my students had a great time picking what had grown. I strategically put therapy targets on the back of the flowers and carrots. When we ran out of crops to pick, I just stuck in artic cards, question cards, etc. for some extra drill practice. Something about picking it out of a bin made it that much more fun!
To reinforce the life cycle of a seed, I found some easy sequencing cards and read The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle. Doing the sensory garden after reading the book helped to reinforce the process of planting a seed and learning what seeds need to grow.
After doing this activity, I definitely think I need to incorporate sensory bins into more of my therapy. I would love to hear your thoughts–what other ways do you use sensory bins?