Why Are Sensory Activities Important?
Why are toddler sensory activities for speech therapy important? Young children learn best through hands on exploration with the world around them. When they are engaged in sensory play they are activating all of their senses by touching, tasting, smelling, hearing and seeing various stimuli.
Toddler sensory activities for speech therapy help the child not only stimulate their 5 senses but build upon their current skills and knowledge. They are exposed to new vocabulary and experiences that can help them generalize all of their skills. For example, for a child working on animal sounds practicing tracing the words in shaving cream, sand, or jumping on a trampoline can not only engage the child more but make it feel less like work.
The more senses that are integrated in toddler sensory activities for speech therapy can help increase the likelihood that the child will retain the information.
How To Incorporate Sensory Activities Into Speech Therapy?
One of the goals of toddler sensory activities for speech therapy is to incorporate fun and engaging ways to engage the toddler in language activities. As we know, young children learn best through play. When children are playing, they are using their imagination, increasing their critical thinking skills, learning how to cooperate with others, and so much more. Play is the most integral part of a young child’s healthy brain development. For it is through play where they can strengthen their cognitive development, social/emotional development, and physical development.
How Kids Benefit from Sensory Activities?
All children can significantly benefit from sensory play. When they are engaged in sensory activities, they are building connections in the brain that help them retain information, increase problem solving skills, promote curiosity, and encourage language development. In addition, when children are engaged in sensory activities, they are immersed in playing with different textures, scents, and tastes which can be significantly beneficial for a child who may be under distress.
When they are engaged in sensory play, they are fully immersed and mindful of what they are manipulating which can ease and calm them. For example, giving a child a piece of clay when they are upset can help them ease their stress. The act of squishing and pressing the playdough can relieve tension and calm both children and adults. Children who are absorbed in a fun and hands-on activity are making sense of the world around them, asking questions, and igniting unique discoveries.
Sensory activities for toddlers are a multifaceted approach to incorporate child-led play with speech therapy. Exposing children to various experiences such as mixing clay and water, smelling essential oils, and building with sticks helps children construct new and creative ways to talk about the world around them. Asking questions such as, “How does that feel, what does it remind you of? , what are you going to do next? can help the child increase their vocabulary and promote new open- ended discussions.
As young children are already naturally curious, integrating sensory experiences in their activities would not only amplify its’ benefit but make it more motivating for the child to participate. When all of the senses are activated it presents the perfect opportunity to create functional learning opportunities for children. Helping a young child increase their expressive language through sensory experiences such as searching for farm animals in kinetic sand is a great way to engage the child and maintain their interest while simultaneously working on their speech goals.
Examples of Sensory Experiences
Here are a few examples of sensory experiences you can integrate in speech therapy:
- Sand tray
- Dry pasta
- Cotton balls
- Shaving cream
- Kinetic sand
- Pom poms
Sensory play for toddlers involves hands-on participation in a fun and engaging way. Incorporating toddler sensory activities for speech therapy is a great way to work on targeted goals while promoting a fun and beneficial learning environment. Exploring various sensory experiences allows therapists to promote early language stimulation without making it feel like work for the child. Once more, the more senses we can engage the better chances the child will retain the information.
Providing a multitude of creative play-based therapy experiences for children give them the opportunity to practice expanding their language and building upon it. The connection between sensory play speech therapy is immeasurable. When the two are interwoven the benefits are countless!
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Author: Hadeal M.