Sensory Play

Enrichment Therapies

May 1, 2013

“Play is a powerful vehicle for learning in the early childhood years and a critical source for expanding cognitive, language, motor and play skills.” – Megan Rozartes, M.S., CCC-SLP

Sensory-language play therapy is a model of intervention that uses play activities to target a certain concept, sound or skill. It often incorporates schemes that engage multiple senses such as touch, sight, and sound. Activities like playing house, singing songs with actions, pushing toy trucks, blowing bubbles, digging in sand boxes, and even tossing a ball back and forth can be used to target many different language skills. Some benefits of play-based therapy are:

  • Increased generalization of skills to the child’s natural environment
  • Improved attention to tasks
  • Improved trust and rapport between the child and therapist
  • Natural way for children to learn
  • Multi-sensory activities are incorporated to enhance development in other areas (e.g. fine motor, gross motor, social-emotional)

Springtime Activities for Early Language Development

Egg Hunt: Do you have leftover plastic Easter eggs? If so, create another hunt! Talk about where you found the eggs (under the bush, in the tree, beside the plant, etc.). Prepositions are essential for following directions and increasing vocabulary and expressive language. The Easter eggs can also be used for articulation activities. Put a picture that has the target sound you are working on into the egg. Have the child find the egg or have the child hide the eggs for you to find. For example, if you’re working on the /r/, put pictures of a ring, rhino, rose, etc. into the eggs. As the eggs are found, the child says the word 3 times.

Blowing Bubbles or Dandelion blooms: This is a great oral-motor exercise for children who have difficulty with lip rounding to produce sounds like “oo” and “w.”
Treasure Hunt: For language development, do a treasure hunt. Make a riddle, or better yet have an older sibling create a riddle to describe the location of the next hint. For instance, if describing the garage door, you could write “You push a button to take the car past. It goes up and down but not so fast.” A riddle is not necessary, but for some students, it might make it more entertaining. For younger children, descriptions may need to be very simple.
Get Dirty Outside: Dig in the dirt and plant flowers, pick wildflowers and climb trees. Talk about the differences in the flowers’ size, color, shape, and the number of blooms. When digging and planting compare the different seeds and talk about what they need to grow. Talk about why you can climb one tree but not another (size, limb location, etc.). Compare the leaves or blooms of the different trees. You can even take pictures of all the signs of spring you see, then make a simple book for your child to share!


Bell, Nanci and Bonetti, Christy, Talking; Visualizing and Verbalizing for Oral Language Comprehension and Expression. 2006 pp. 21-24 and 34.

Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center has locations in the Iowa City, IA area and Des Moines, IA area. We provide individual speech-language therapy and tutoring as well as offering small group academic programs.  At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center our passion is to help kids achieve effective communication skills and gain academic success.  Contact us for more information on how we can help your child succeed.

740 Community Drive, Unit A

North Liberty, IA 52317


5530 West Pkwy, Suite 300

Johnston, IA 50131


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