Sensory Play and Language

*This post is part of a month-long series with Katie from Let’s Grow Speech called Playing with Language. To view the entire Playing with Language Series, click HERE!

Today’s Topic: Sensory Play and Language

Building Language with Sensory Play

What is sensory play?

Sensory play, sometimes known as “messy play,” is simply play that encourages children to use one or more of the senses, including sight, sound, smell, touch, taste, balance, and movement. Sensory play appeals to children of all ages and is full of opportunities for language enrichment. For more information on the benefits of sensory play, see my post here.  Some of our favorite sensory play activities include playing in tubs of colored rice, dry pasta, or pinto beans with kitchen utensils for dumping, filling, pouring, mixing, and transferring. We also LOVE anything that incorporates water!

How does sensory play build language?

As children engage in sensory play, they are gaining valuable, hands-on input about the world around them. Since we know that young children rely on sensory input to learn about their environment, sensory play opportunities are an ideal time to focus on language stimulation in a meaningful context, which is crucial to early language learning.

How can I provide language stimulation through sensory play at home?

Providing language stimulation during sensory play activities doesn’t have to be complicated.  Here are some ways I use sensory play to build language with my two-year-old twins at home:

Vocabulary expansion- During sensory play activities, I provide lots of language modeling by commenting on what my twins are experiencing.  We talk about how things look, feel, smell, move, sound, and sometimes even taste! We also describe actions such as stir, pour, drip, and splash.  Since my little ones are very verbal these days, I also do quite a bit of waiting and listening to their spontaneous speech and using language -building strategies to build on what they are saying.  Here are some great tips on how to expand and extend your child’s spontaneous utterances from Playing With Words 365.

How to build language with sensory play at Twodaloo
Pretend play- Sensory experiences are wonderful opportunities to model and engage in pretend play with your little ones, which is wonderful for cognitive and language development. I will be talking more extensively about the relationship between pretend play and language on Thursday.  My twins love to “cook” with sensory materials and happily “feed” the results to me, themselves, and all their toys.  If you have a little transportation enthusiast on your hands, a few construction vehicles added to a simple sensory bin provides hours of fun!

How to build language with sensory play at Twodaloo

Social interaction- Engaging in sensory play activities with siblings and/or peers is a great way to practice social language skills.  I use sensory play activities to help my twins learn to take turns, politely request things from each other, and engage in early conversations.  For more examples on facilitating social language through sensory play, check out my color lab sensory play date post.  Plus, you will notice that your little ones often learn more language from interacting with peers than they do from all of your carefully crafted efforts!

How to build language with sensory play at Twodaloo

I hope you have enjoyed our first installment of the Playing With Language series.  Be sure to come back Thursday to check out our Small World Play post, and in the meantime please hop on over to Let’s Grow Speech for some great tips on expanding language using a childhood staple…playdough!

More Great Stuff for You

Looking for more ways to build language through play? Check out all our language posts on our Language Basics page- lots of developmental information, activities, and ideas for building language at home!

Looking for more sensory play activities? Here’s our entire sensory play gallery just for you!

sensory play gallery

 We’ve also got a nifty Sensory Play Pinterest board that you can browse by clicking HERE…lots of great ideas!
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Comments

  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE! And shared on Facebook. And pinned ;) Thanks for linking to my blog as well and looking forward to the rest of your series!

  2. I love this series and can’t wait to see what else you have in store for us. I always enjoy reading your take on play and language development as an SLP.

  3. I appreciate your focus on developing language through a “meaningful context.” Play is okay! Developing your young child’s brain does not involve sitting at a desk and reviewing vocabulary. Likewise, in my Hands-On library programs for 1-year-olds and 2-year-olds, I always make sure to emphasize the process over the product.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] and Hearing month! In celebration, I will teaming up with the fun and talented Stephanie from Twodaloo to bring you our Playing with Language Series…  a whole month full of great new (and sometimes [...]

  2. [...] little ones. Did you get the chance to check out Stephanie’s awesome post on sensory play over at Twodaloo? Seriously, she is so good! If you missed Tuesday’s activity on how to build language while [...]

  3. [...] your little one!  In case you missed Tuesday’s introductory post, I shared some fun ways to Build Language with Sensory Play.  Today I am going to talk about one of my favorite activities, building language with small world [...]

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  6. [...] do at home with your little one!  In case you missed them, last week  I shared some fun ways to Build Language with Sensory Play and some tips on Building Language with Small World Play.  Today’s post is all about [...]

  7. [...] with your little one!  In case you missed them, so far in this series I have shared  fun ways to Build Language with Sensory Play,  tips on Building Language with Small World Play, and all about Building Language with Music. [...]

  8. [...] with your little one!  In case you missed them, so far in this series I have shared  fun ways to Build Language with Sensory Play,  tips on Building Language with Small World Play, Building Language with Art, and all about [...]

  9. [...] SLP and mother to boy/girl twin toddlers, wrote a fantastic post recently on this topic on her blog Two-Daloo. Click on the image below to take you to her post, where she explains the benefits of sensory [...]

  10. [...] Dough from My Buddies and I You may also want to check out my post Building Language Through Sensory Play for more details on the sensory and language connection and tips and tricks on maximizing language [...]

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  14. [...] all about how to use sensory play activities to build language skills in young [...]

  15. […] Sensory bins provide endless opportunities for speech and language learning. This Fall Sensory Play  and Sticky Tree from How Wee Learn is a great example! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this sticky tree. You can work on concepts such as in, on, under, off, up, down and general fall vocabulary. A great read on sensory play from a speech and language standpoint is at Twodaloo. […]

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  17. […] In Sensory Play and Language  she answers: How does sensory play build language? And you can find out how you can provide language stimulation through sensory play. […]

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  19. […] To learn how to use fun sensory play activities to help get your toddler talking, check out Building Language with Sensory Play. (Link to- http://www.two-daloo.com/sensory-play-and-language/) […]

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