Water Play: Sensory Bin

Guest Authored By Sophia P L, MS, OTR/L

During Chicago summertime, our children love to play and splash in water! Water play can be a great way to address play and sensorimotor development! It’s a great way to build fine motor, gross motor, and play exploration skills.  

Materials: 

  • Container 
  • Water 
  • Optional Tools: spoons, measuring cups, sand shovels, sand sifters, pails, castle molds, fish nets, tongs, funnels, beakers, eye droppers, spray bottles 

 Expanding Play with Water 

Fine Motor 

  • Grasping – Playing with a variety of utensils allows children to practice a variety of grasping patterns! Spoons, measuring cups, shovels, sifters, and fish nets can help with grasping, wrist, and forearm movements necessary for pre-writing and writing!  
  • Bilateral coordination – Funnels and castle molds are great for promoting bilateral coordination! Both require two hands in a natural and organic way.  
  • Hand strengthening – Tongs, eye droppers, and spray bottles work well to build hand arches and hand strength necessary for many daily tasks and handwriting! 

 Visual Perceptual 

  • Visual attention – Looking and exploring within a sensory bin can build sustained visual attention necessary for daily routines! 
  • Visual scanning – Digging, exploring, and playing games such as iSpy are a great way to practice visual scanning necessary for reading and writing! 
  • Hand-eye coordination – Finding items, scooping, and exploring allows for children to build visual-spatial and depth perception skills necessary for hand-eye coordination! 

 Executive Functioning 

  • Sustained attention – A fun way to practice concentrating on an activity for as long as it takes to finish, even if there are other distracting stimuli present.
  • Processing skills – Using, handling, and searching/locating items and tools within a sensory bin help to build processing skills. Noticing and responding to peers and adults can not only help with social participation, but processing as well! 
  • Memory – Playing games like iSpy and Simon Says while playing with toys and tools in a sensory bin can help to build short term and working memory skills! 

 Sensory  

  • Touch and texture play – For children that are avoidant of sensory experiences, playing in a water bin can help to build exploration and tolerance in a fun and engaging way. For children that seek out sensory information, playing in water can help to improve overall regulation and attention throughout the day! 

 Play 

  • Engagement – Sensory bins are a fantastic way to expand play exploration! Practice imitation skills such as: splashing, scooping, pouring, and blowing bubbles. 
  • Looking – As mentioned previously, playing in water can promote a variety of attention (e.g. sustained, joint, shifted, divided) and visual perceptual (e.g. scanning, discrimination, depth perception, etc.) skills.
  • Sharing – Playing together in a sensory bin can practice social skills such as sharing space, toys, and attention! 
  • Transitioning – Water play can be a highly preferred play activity! Transitioning to and from this activity can be difficult for children. Prepare your child for the transition. Practice using ‘first, then’ language, 2-choices, transitional items, and timers to help your child understand when to start and terminate the activity. 

Eyas Landing is a therapy clinic with a mission to provide evidence-based and family-centered therapy services for children, adolescents, and their families. The primary goal is to deliver relationship-based interventions within the most natural environments and to empower families to reach their full potential. To achieve this goal, our highly educated, compassionate staff dedicates time and expertise to create experiences that maximize therapeutic outcomes. The strength, determination, and perseverance of our clients are evident as they succeed in therapy, and ultimately in their daily lives.

Eyas Landing offers a wide range of comprehensive services including Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, ABA Therapy, Social Work, Family Therapy, and Neuropsych testing. Services are provided throughout the Chicagoland area via Telehealth, In-Home, and in our state of the art clinic.

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