Using Messy Play in Speech Therapy

Using messy play in speech therapy can be very helpful to your students and their goals. What is messy play? Well, it’s basically another term that means sensory play. Messy play often has different textures (e.g., wet, slimy, smooth). It almost always means more clean-up for the SLP. Yay? Today we’ll talk about why it can be beneficial and some ideas on making messy play in speech therapy more successful.


Title of the blog, "Using Messy Play in Speech Therapy" on the right side of the image is a picture of children's hands playing with blue slime.

Why is it beneficial?

  1. Messy play can help regulate your sensory seekers. We all know it isn’t easy to provide therapy and see gains when children are dysregulated. Incorporating messy play can help keep children regulated while learning new language skills.
  2. Many kids enjoy it, and we can build language around activities that children enjoy. This helps children connect with other children with similar interests, talk about their interests, and build their confidence.
  3. Children are often more engaged in therapy. You can get more done and have a more effective therapy session.


List of sensory bin or messy play ideas

Messy Play Tips.

  1. Know what your students like. Know if your students have strong likes or dislikes of certain textures. Some children love rice but give them a wet, slimy, and they revolt. 
  2. Get out the plastic tablecloths. This will help make clean-up easier. If you can’t find a tablecloth, buy cheap plastic shower curtains.
  3. Have the children dress in paint shirts if you are doing wet/dirty messy play. This will make it easier for you to clean up and keep parents happy too.
  4. If your students use AAC, put their device in plastic zip-up bags. The children will still be able to use them, and the device will stay dry and clean.
  5. Double-check that you are not using materials your students are allergic to or may worsen a skin issue.


You can also use all sorts of art materials to meet sensory needs in therapy. For more information on using art materials, check out this blog post (click here). If you would like the child-directed art handout, click here. What are your favourite materials to use during messy play in speech therapy?



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