10 Fall-Themed Sensory Bin Fillers

10 Fall-Themed Sensory Bin Fillers

Raise your hand if fall is your season!

The fall weather, food, and accessories are what I love most about fall.

And the other thing I love about fall is making fall-themed sensory bins to go with my fave books.

In this blog post, I will share my top ten best fall-themed sensory bin fillers to help you figure out what to put in your themed bins.

What Makes a Sensory Bin Filler?

If you are new to using sensory bins, check out my page with all the details HERE.

Your sensory bin filler is the part of the bin that provides the tactile experience for your students. When your students touch the fillers in the container, it will alert the senses to the different textures. The filler portion of the sensory bin is the foundation for the experience!

Check out this blog post with 10 fall-themed sensory bin fillers for your speech therapy bins!

Top Five FAVE Fall-Themed Sensory Bin Fillers

  1. Popcorn – this filler is excellent for farm-themed bins or if you want to stick flashcards or printables in the container because they will stay in place!
  2. Fake leaves- you can often find these at Dollar Tree during fall, but they are also on Amazon. You can read more about how to use these in a sensory bin HERE.
  3. Orange and yellow shredded paper – I found mine on Amazon, but any craft store will have it. Shredded paper creates a texture that makes it easy to lay props on top of the paper.
  4. Orange, red, yellow, and green pom pom balls can be your bin’s leaves. Check out this blog post for how you can create this engaging leaf bin! You can reuse the red and green pom poms to make an apple sensory bin. Check out the details HERE
  5. Acorns – if you live near an open space where acorn trees grow, you can collect some and use them in your bins. And, there are always fake ones you can buy! This set on Amazon has a variety of mini pine cones, acorns and leaves. 

Themed Therapy Fall Sensory Bin Companion

If you need fall-themed sensory bin materials to use with your fillers, check out this fall-themed sensory bin companion. It comes with a variety of printables related to fall vocabulary that also comes with cheat sheets so you can use them in mixed groups with ease!

More Fall-Themed Sensory Bin Fillers

6. Plastic Mini leaves – these can be great for adding some texture and color to your bin.

7. Green dried lentils – use the lentils as a grass filler or just to create some texture at the bottom of the bin. Then, layer with some fake leaves or other filler elements.

8. Oatmeal – is a taste-safe option for your students who put things in their mouths. This can be a great filler for an apple pie sensory bin.

9. Hay or raffia – if you are doing a pumpkin, farm, or fall festival type of bin, this filler works perfectly! To add to the bin, you can usually find mini fake hay bales at craft stores during the fall season.

10. Dye dry pasta – when you aren’t sure what filler to buy, use some leftover pasta and dye it orange, yellow, brown, green, or red to add to your bin!

Need More Fall-Themed Ideas for Your Speech Therapy Caseload?

If you need some more ideas for sensory bins, check out this post for an apple theme.

This blog post will also find more great fall sensory bin examples. 

For your language groups working on receptive and expressive noun functions, you can make a fall bin specifically for that goal!

All About Me – Likes and Dislikes

All About Me – Likes and Dislikes

All About Me is a versatile theme for preschool and early elementary students.

You can use an All About Me theme any time of the year, but it is an ideal theme to use at the start of the school year.

By having students talk about their likes and dislikes, you can build rapport and learn more about what they love.

In this blog post, you will learn some ideas to build an All About Me Likes and Dislikes lesson plan that you can use for small groups and co-teaching.

All About Me Book Recommendations

Have an easy all-about-me-themed therapy lesson plan for your speech therapy groups. Kids love talking about their likes and dislikes, and you can cover a lot of goals!

Start your session by reading a themed book such as What I Like About Me by Allia Zobel-Nola, or I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont. (Amazon affiliate links included.)

You can use either of these books to discuss what your students like about themselves.

As you discuss what kids like about themselves based on their physical features, you can also target hobbies, values, food, colors, activities, and more!


What are some of your favorites all about me likes and dislikes books? Share in the comments of this blog post.

All About Me Likes and Dislikes YouTube Songs

Using YouTube songs that tie into your theme is a great way to incorporate movement into your sessions. It’s even better when the music aligns with the concepts you are working on in your session.

You can use these Super Simple songs to work on the following speech and language goals:

CORE words: like/don’t like, yes/no
Adjectives: yum, gross
Making comments: No way! I would eat that!

After you read one of the recommended books, turn on this song. You can incorporate hand movements, yes/no visual icons, or iconic gestures for yum or gross to increase engagement.

Have an easy all about me themed therapy lesson plan for your speech therapy groups. Kids love talking about their likes and dislikes and you can cover a lot of goals!

YouTube Videos to Share Like/Don’t Like Opinions About Food

Did you know there are likes and dislikes on YouTube you can use on a SMARTboard or your laptop to discuss what your students enjoy or don’t enjoy?

It’s a great way to keep your students engaged while you work on answering yes/no questions, making comments (i.e., yummy, yucky), naming other items in the category group of the thing, and working on MLU.

If you want the videos to pause at specific points of the video with a question, you can add these videos to EdPuzzle and create stimulus items with the videos that are related to your student’s goals. Here is a YouTube tutorial on creating lessons with EdPuzzl on my channel. 

Here is some All About Me Likes and Dislikes videos you can use in therapy:

Likes and Dislikes ESL by ABC Educational Channel

English for Beginners Likes and Dislikes

I Like and I Don’t Like Animated Book

Like Don’t Like – English Grammar for Kids with Novakid

I Like- I Don’t Like by Giulia Filosi 

What I Like Sensory Bin for Speech

Have an easy all-about-me-themed therapy lesson plan for your speech therapy groups. Kids love talking about their likes and dislikes, and you can cover a lot of goals!

You can make a “What I Like” sensory bin that you can use as an extension activity over several speech therapy sessions.

To make this sensory bin, put in whatever filler you want! Some of my fave fillers on my website can be found on this page.

Then, add pictures of different food or items from other categories. Your students can select an item and then share if they like or don’t like it. If you need ready-to-go pictures and visual supports for this bin, you can get these printables in the All About Me themed unit for August in the Themed Therapy SLP membership.

With the printable pictures, you can work on yes/no questions, receptive and expressive noun-functions, inferencing, describing, using sentences with I like/I don’t like, and syntax/morphology.

For more getting-to-know-you type of activities, check out this blog post.

All About Me Likes and Dislikes Toy Activity

If you own these All About Me houses (Amazon affiliate link included), these are perfect for talking about likes and dislikes. You can put mini trinkets of items inside the homes and have students open them up. They can pull out the thing and share if they like or don’t like it. To learn more about mini trinkets, check out this blog post.

While doing this activity, you can also work on word opposites in/out, full/empty, and open/close.

Have an easy all-about-me-themed therapy lesson plan for your speech therapy groups. Kids love talking about their likes and dislikes, and you can cover a lot of goals!

What Are Your Favorite All About Me Therapy Ideas?

Have an easy all-about-me-themed therapy lesson plan for your speech therapy groups. Kids love talking about their likes and dislikes, and you can cover a lot of goals!

Do you have some all-about-me activities to target likes and dislikes? Share your favorite activities and resources in the comments of this blog post to add to this lesson plan! You can extend this theme for at least two weeks with various similar activities. If you need more information about why it is beneficial for you and your students to do a theme for longer than a week, check out this Real Talk SLP podcast episode

Pirate Themed Toys for Play-Based Speech Therapy

Pirate Themed Toys for Play-Based Speech Therapy

If you love doing a pirate theme with your caseload, this blog post is about the best pirate-themed toys to use with play-based speech therapy.

Owning pirate props and toy sets can be just what you need to bring the pirate theme to life. You will find Amazon affiliate links in this blog post for your convenience. 

Pirate-Themed Games To Play With Mixed Groups

Use these pirate-themed toys to enhance your play-based speech therapy sessions

Pop Up Pirate is a fun game you can play with your mixed groups. Using this resource’s toy companion cheat sheet can help you adapt the game on the spot in your sessions.

Mystery Island Pirates is a board game where your students will be racing to get their ship to the island! You can use the game to work on handling unexpected situations, like when you land on an island with enemies and have to go back spaces.

Don’t Rock the Boat Skill and Action Game is an excellent game choice if you have a lot of goals on your caseload around social communication and vocabulary. You can use this game for turn-taking, commenting, and problem-solving. Or, you can demonstrate tier II vocabulary for balance and overboard. Because this game has penguins, you can theme smash penguins and pirates! 

Treasure Props and Dramatic Play Sets

When you have themed props with your pirate unit, you can ditch the worksheets and bring vocabulary and concepts to life.

You can use this Pirate pretend play set to work on basic concepts, acting out pirate scenes, work on noun functions, and wh-questions.

Learning Resources has a set of treasure chests that you can use to target the following goals:

Basic Concepts: open/close, quantity, colors
Verbs: look, find, hunt, lock
Tier II vocabulary: reveal, discover, treasure

Need themed therapy pirate materials for your Prek-5th Caseload?

Do you love using themes with your Prek-5th grade caseload but don’t have time to find all the needed materials? Come join the Themed Therapy SLP membership (there are monthly and annual options). You won’t have to stress about planning themed units because all the work has been done for you. The membership gives you access to 2-3 monthly themed materials, including word lists, Google Slides, No Print resources, visual supports for crafts, book cheat sheets, and printables. Check out how to become an SLP Themester HERE

Pirate-Themed Toy Sets

If you need some pirate-themed toy recommendations for your play-based speech therapy this blog post has lots of great ideas to add to your stash!

Your students will dig this kinetic sand pirate set because it is like a treasure chest sensory bin! It comes with gold sand and some jewels. Make sure you grab a tray to control the overflow of kinetic sand. If you want to add in extra gems, here is a set. You can add mini trinkets that are sound loaded for motivating practice fun! Read this blog post for more information about how to use mini items. The Themed Therapy SLP membership has a pirate unit for Prek-5th grade and has a toy companion cheat sheet for this toy! Sign up HERE.

iPlay, iLearn pirate toy set is a bit pricey, but it is a comprehensive toy set that you could use all year. You have many options for targeting speech and language goals. 

What Pirate-Themed Toy Will You Use With Your Caseload?

If you love doing a pirate theme, what toys or props do you love to use in your play-based speech therapy sessions? Share any fun pirate-theme toys or materials you have found to be a success for your therapy sessions in the comments. For more pirate-themed speech therapy ideas, check out this blog post

Plan your pirate-themed unit with hands-on therapy props and toys! Your next speech therapy session will be filled with engagement using these themed toys.
3 Tips for Choosing Themed Therapy Materials

3 Tips for Choosing Themed Therapy Materials

Are you a newby to the themed therapy approach? Maybe you are a seasoned them ester SLP? Either way, it can be tricky to pick the right themed therapy materials for your caseload. If you always find yourself spending tons of planning time looking for the right materials, then you have come to the right place! Keep reading below for 3 tips that will help you choose the right themed therapy materials for your students.

Need help with how to choose themed therapy materials for your speech therapy caseload? Check out this blog post that gives three tips for knowing if a themed therapy activity is right for your students!

Join the Themed Therapy SLP Membership

If you love using a themed therapy approach with your students and want to cut your planning time, join the Themed Therapy SLP Membership today! Each month you will have access to a variety of themed materials for your elementary students. Gain access to materials you can use for the whole month. With membership access you can reduce your planning time and focus more of your energy on making meaningful connections with your students.

Don’t forget to join the FREE 5-Day Themed Therapy materials Organization Challenge that will be running July 18-22nd.

Need help with how to choose themed therapy materials for your speech therapy caseload? Check out this blog post that gives three tips for knowing if a themed therapy activity is right for your students!

Tip #1: Make sure your materials match your theme

While you are selecting the stimulus items for your lesson, you want to make sure that the stimulus items, as well as the materials and toys, match your theme. Using cute, themed graphics with various (maybe slightly random) stimulus targets is a skill-based therapy approach. This is totally fine! However, if you want to implement a themed-based approach, the vocabulary you select also needs to be theme-related.

For example, if you have a variety of functional vocabulary words on cute tent graphics, you may not be using a themed-therapy approach. When the vocabulary on those tent graphics is camp, campground, tent, fire, bug spray you are now using a themed-therapy approach. Your vocabulary, stimulus items, toys, and props should all connect to the theme. Check out my instagram for more examples!

Tip #2: Select themed therapy materials you can adapt across your caseload

Selecting versatile materials that are easy to adapt across ages and goals is a key tip for a themed therapy approach. Ask yourself can the themed materials be used with any books related to the theme? Could you use them with early and upper elementary students? When you can adapt the material to cover a lot of goals, it means less time planning lesson activities. Check out this camping blog post for examples of how you can use this theme to cover a variety of ages and goals.

Tip #3: Some themed therapy materials are worth purchasing

How do you know a material is worth the purchase? Before purchasing try asking yourself these questions:

  • Can the material be re-used for many sessions?
  • Will it increase your students’ engagement?
  • Can you use the materials for the whole month?
  • Can the material be stored and used again the following year?

Whether it is a no prep worksheet or something that requires some cutting and assembling, it is worth the purchase if you answer yes to any of those questions.

While you are getting your materials together, you might need some organizational tips! Here is a blog post for digital speech material storage and ideas for printable storage.

Need help with how to choose themed therapy materials for your speech therapy caseload? Check out this blog post that gives three tips for knowing if a themed therapy activity is right for your students!

The Themed Therapy SLP Membership membership is designed to align with a themed-based approach. It is here to take lesson planning off their plate so that they can focus on enjoying therapy.

Ice Cream Preschool Activities for Speech Therapy

Ice Cream Preschool Activities for Speech Therapy

Eating ice cream on a hot summer day is something that many of your students experience on break!

That’s why it is a great theme to plan during the summer months.

Whether you need quick low prep digital activities or ideas for hands-on speech therapy ideas, this blog post will share engaging ice cream preschool activities for your speech therapy sessions!

Hands-On Ice Cream Preschool Activities

Struggling to come up with ice cream preschool activities that will engage your students in speech therapy sessions? Check out this blog post with different therapy ideas to use with an ice cream theme.

Your speech therapy lessons will always be more engaging if you find ways to make them hands-on. Use ice cream playdough mats for an easy-to-prep activity covering many speech and language goals. The mats pictured are from the ice cream push-in lesson plan guides. Here are some ideas for using the playdough mats:

-Following directions
-Commenting, requesting, and describing by attributes
-Reinforcer for any goal, or they can earn playdough or decoration after practicing their sounds
-Demonstrate basic concepts for the middle, bottom, on top, on, off
-Sequencing the steps for making an ice cream cone

Create an ice cream sensory bin using this kinetic sand set from Lakeshore Learning, or add white cotton balls, cups, ice cream scoop, colorful mini pom balls, or cut-up rainbow straws.

Easy to adapt ice cream preschool activities for speech therapy!

Ice Cream Themed Unit for Prek-5th Grade

Using a theme-based approach for your entire elementary caseload can help you plan more efficiently with therapy. But, it can become time-consuming hunting down enough activities to cover preschool through 5th grade. Because I don’t want time to be why you don’t use themes to serve your students, I created a Themed Therapy SLP membership to help take themed therapy planning off your plate. When you sign up for the membership, you get access to three monthly themes that have everything you need to cover goals on your caseload. See the pictures below for some of the ice cream-themed activities you can use for July. Doors re-open for the membership on July 22nd. Get on the waitlist HERE.

Have an Ice Cream Party in Speech Therapy

Struggling to come up with ice cream preschool activities that will engage your students in speech therapy sessions? Check out this blog post with different therapy ideas to use with an ice cream theme.

You can plan a real ice cream party with your students, which can be great for wh-questions and social pragmatic language. As a whole class lesson, you can map out all the details and then work on speech and language goals during the ice cream party in the next session.

If you don’t have the money to do a real ice cream party, use a pretend play set and invite your student’s favorite stuffies and characters to an ice cream party. Or, you can take a trip to the ice cream shop. I love the set from Melissa and Doug, but there are many playsets on Amazon (Amazon affiliate links are included for your convenience.)

Need more ideas for how to use an ice cream play set? Check out this blog post.

Digital Ice Cream Preschool Activities

Whether in person or teletherapy, digital apps and tools can help increase engagement and keep therapy low prep for you!

ABCya and the My Ice Cream Maker app are great for teaching sequencing for making an ice cream cone. You can also work on the following skills:

-Following directions
-Describing by color, size, texture
-Making an ice cream cone for someone else to work on perspective taking and conversation
-Answering wh-questions
-Use sound-loaded words or phrases to work on speech sounds in a naturalistic activity

Sago Mini has a fun fair app that features an ice cream cart to make your own flavors.

Get some ideas for digital ice cream preschool activities you can use in your mixed groups for speech therapy.

If you are looking for language Boom Cards that focus on various skills, check out these ice cream sequencing Boom Cards. Some of the activities may be more advanced for the preschool level. Still, the three and four-step sequencing activities work on basic temporal concepts (i.e., first, next, then), and there is also an emphasis on targeting verbs and vocabulary related to ice cream.

Based on research sharing that focusing on a broad set of language skills leads to better reading comprehension, you can approach language therapy to target various skills in one digital activity.

Needing More Summer Speech Therapy Ideas for Preschool?

Ice cream isn’t the only summer theme that works well for preschool-aged students! There are lots of other play themes you can use. To read more about that, check out this blog post

Research articles:

Lervåg, A. , Hulme, C. and Melby‐Lervåg, M. (2017). Unpicking the developmental relationship between oral language skills and reading comprehension: It’s simple, but complex. Child Development. Advance online publication. doi:10.1111/cdev.12861

Hadley, E. B., Dickinson, D. K., Hirsch-Pasek, K., & Golinkoff, R. M. (2018). Building semantic networks: The impact of a vocabulary intervention on preschoolers’ depth of word knowledge. Reading Research Quarterly. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrq.225

Pool-Themed Play Therapy Toy Ideas for SLPs

Pool-Themed Play Therapy Toy Ideas for SLPs

Going to the pool is always top of mind when you think of summer-themed activities. Cooling off on hot summer days at the pool is an activity many of your students have experienced during summer camps or with family.

Using a play-based activity that your students can relate to makes the session more meaningful. You can reinforce vocabulary and concepts they will use at the pool, making therapy functional.

Today, you will learn about different pool-themed play therapy ideas that you can use to cover your student’s speech and language goals.

Where to Find Pool-Themed Play Therapy Toy Sets

Need summer-themed play therapy ideas for your speech sessions? Check out how to use these pool-themed play toy sets in your play-based therapy sessions.

Having pool-themed play props brings to life concepts related to swimming. I hunted around for pool toy sets and found some affordable and not too big.

If you need a mini pool and slide, this Barbie pool playset is perfect for adding different items that float. Or you can pull out other figurines like Little People, farm animals, or dinosaurs to use with the pool.

When I bought this pool set, I got it 50% off, so it was worth the price. But, if it wasn’t on sale, you may want to check out these other pool sets especially if you don’t want the Barbie that comes with it! 

For your friends who enjoy Peppa Pig or Bluey, these pool playsets are around the $20 or less range and have enough pool elements to cover many speech and language goals. The Peppa Pig set is nice because the pool folds up, making it an excellent travel toy set. At the same time, the Bluey pool set is a little more awkward in size but has innertubes.

You can also make a DIY pool party play set by filling up a container with water. To add pool party supplies, you can add rubber ducks, cut-up felt for a towel, and people figurines to go swimming.

Need Toy Cheat Sheet Companions to Help You Adapt Toys on the Fly?

If you are juggling many different goals in mixed groups and don’t have time to create elaborate lesson plans, try using toy companion cheat sheets.

Play therapy cheat sheets have been a game-changer for jogging my memory for targets to use in therapy. There are over 30 toy cheat sheets, and I will add more as I get requests from you!

And, if you want themed toy guides with sensory bin cheat sheets, check out the Themed Therapy SLP membership. Doors re-open July 22nd. There is a sensory bin and toy guide for a swimming theme for July!

Targeting Speech Sound Goals with the Pool Play Set

When using a toy in play-based therapy for speech sound goals, you want to keep a quick list of words with your student’s target sound nearby!

You can get a lot of trials using this method. For example, if you are having items go down the slide into the pool and working on the phonological process of fronting, you can have students say, “go, cool off, or look.” Similarly, when targeting cluster reduction, you can use “slide, splash, slip, or swish” as the people or items go down the slide.”

Use mini trinkets and throw them in the pool set. Have students use their figurines for swimming around the pool to find the items. Using sound-specific mini trinkets, you can have students practice their sounds when they swim by one.

Need summer-themed play therapy ideas for your speech sessions? Check out how to use these pool-themed play toy sets in your play-based therapy sessions.

Targeting Language Concepts with a Pool-Themed Play Therapy Toy Set

Need summer-themed play therapy ideas for your speech sessions? Check out how to use these pool-themed play toy sets in your play-based therapy sessions.

Whenever you use themed props in your play-based therapy, there are many opportunities to work on basic concepts and word opposites. If you need more ideas on where to find themed props, check out this blog post for some ideas.

With the pool playset, you can use the slides to target up/down, in/out, wet/dry, fast/slow, and over/under as word opposite targets.

Target verb actions such as dive, splash, swim, jump, throw, eat, dry, wrap
Work on describing vocabulary words related to a pool theme such as a towel, diving board, lemonade, innertube, basketball, goggles, sunscreen, umbrella, and floaty.

During play, you can work on social pragmatic language for turn-taking, initiation, commenting, emotions, and problem-solving with pool-related situations.

Create a fun story related to swimming and target oral narration as well as targeting sequencing skills for putting on sunscreen, diving in the pool, or eating a frozen treat after swimming.

AAC CORE words to work on with a Pool Play Therapy Activity

Need summer-themed play therapy ideas for your speech sessions? Check out how to use these pool-themed play toy sets in your play-based therapy sessions.

When working with themed playsets, knowing which target CORE words you want to work on before heading into a session is nice. A cheat sheet list will help you remember to model those words on the student’s device.

Just like with the suggestions for speech sound disorders, you want a cheat sheet list of phrases and words you would like to work on during play. As you play, you can follow the child’s lead and model words on your cheat sheet. Some terms that would work well with this playset are go, stop, more, wait, like/don’t like, what, fun, up, down, don’t, and big.

What goals would you target with a pool play set?

Share some of your pool-themed therapy ideas in the comments. You can help your fellow speech pathologists get inspired with play therapy ideas by sharing your therapy ideas! If you need more summer ideas, check out these blog posts:

Play Themes for the Summer Months

Best Summer YouTube Videos for Speech Therapy (with free download)

Summer-Themed Books to Use in Speech

Crafts to Use with a Summer-Theme

SLP Winter Survival Kit Waitlist

winter-themed materials


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