If you have been on the struggle bus trying to find activities that keep kids engaged and their hands busy, try sensory bins. Specifically, color sensory bins because these are easy to make, and so, so versatile for targeting speech and language goals. Today, I am going to share how you can teach colors to preschool and kindergarten students as well as a LOT of other speech and language goals.

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Items to Add to Your Color Sensory Bins


For your color sensory bins, you can add the colored pom poms you are targeting. If you are doing a rainbow-colored sensory bin, add in rainbow colored rice or popcorn, multi-colored pom poms.

To combine printables and physical items, go through your play food sets, figurines, and game sets for items with the color you want to target. For color printables, use the flashcards from the color sensory bin companion

If you need mini trinkets or figurines, here are some of my favorites that can be thrown into your bin:

You can get some organization ideas by reading this post on organizing your sensory bin materials

Books to Pair with the Color Sensory Bins

One of my favorite ways to use sensory bins is to pair them with books. You can start the session by reading a story and then use the color sensory bin to carry over vocabulary and concepts with your students. Check out all my favorite color books to find one that works best for your speech therapy caseload. 


Ways to Teach Colors With the Sensory Bin


Teaching colors to preschool and kindergarten, students is a skill teachers work on with activities in their curriculum. Furthermore, when you teach colors to students, it is a beginning adjective word you can use to describe nouns when working on syntax and morphology goals. Plus, colors are a category group, and you can show how groups of items go together because of their color. You can get all the details about how to teach categories to help your students build their vocabularies. To help students understand how items can be categorized by color, you can put out color printable sorting mats (these are in the color sensory bin printable resource) or colored containers for students to put the item that matches the color.  I love how Play to Learn Preschool used color masking tape with water bottles as a color sorting sensory bin with rainbow pom poms. 

Hands On As We Grow had a great idea of making tubes out of colored paper with rubber bands as sorting tubes. 


More Tips for Teaching Colors With Sensory Bins

For students that would benefit from learning one color at a time, have students hunt around for items by giving them cues such as “Find the blue fish.” You can set up two color mats or two colored containers so students can sort all the “blue items” on the blue mat. Having two sorting mats helps you see if the child is associating the items with the correct color.


When students appear to receptively understand the color, introduce expressive language tasks by having the student tell you or another child what to find. For example, the student can say, “Find red cherries.” Pair this activity with a sentence strip and have the child make a sentence at their level. If the child is using 2-word phrases, you can have them try to work on expanding to three to four-word sentences such as “I see red cherries.”


Speech Sound Goals to Target with the Color Sensory Bin

The beauty of color sensory bins is that you can often find items that fit your student’s speech sounds. For example, if you made a yellow-colored sensory bin, you could add items with your student’s sound, such as lemon, school bus, bell pepper, yellow crayon, tennis ball, pineapple, and sunflower, all have the L sound. Or,  you can come up with a sound-loaded phrase such as “I see ____” for /s/, “I like ___” for K, or “I spotted _____” for s-blends.


Students can go on an I Spy sound hunt with the color sensory bin to find items with their sounds. You can also work on auditory awareness and judge if the item has the student’s sound.


Language Goals You Can Teach With the Sensory Bin


As SLPs, we work on a lot of different language goals. So, a perk of using a color sensory bin is that we can adapt it to target what each student is working on in speech. Here are some ideas for how to use the bins for language goals:


  • Describing items by attributes (i.e. category, location, parts, function, texture, size, etc.)
  • Answering wh-questions about the item
  • Target yes/no questions about the color or item
  • Use in a sentence to work on sentence structure and morphology
  • Share opinions if the child likes or doesn’t like the item
  • Expressively name the color of the item
  • Compare and contrast two of the colored items by similarities and differences
  • If you have multiples of items you can work on singular and plurals
  • Work on “who” questions by giving items to students in the group or to stuffies and ask, “Who has the green hose?”
  • Give inference clues to find items in the sensory bin

What Speech Therapy Goals Would You Target with Color Sensory Bins?

How would you use this sensory bin to teach colors or other speech and language goals on your caseload? Share your ideas in the comments. Any way we can adapt speech therapy material to cover more goals is a plus!