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Outdoor Activities for Your Sensory Child

It's Summer, the sky is blue, the sun is out and it is the perfect opportunity for you to take your kids out of the house and get them some sunshine and fresh air.

Here are some great outdoor activities to plan with your child.

1. Obstacle Courses:

I am a huge fan of obstacle courses. As an Occupational Therapist, I often integrate a 3 step obstacle course at the start of my session to help calm and organize the child I am working with. You can use anything from a hula hoop, or jump rope, you can use chalk to draw hopscotch or use your playground equipment if you have it available to you.

I will often place pieces of a puzzle at the end of the obstacle course and place the board at the beginning. I will then say OK I want you to remember to get me the circle, but first, you have to frog jump to the hula hoop, jump in and out of the hula hoop, then crawl through the tunnel. Remember to pick up the circle and bring it all the way to the beginning and put it back into the puzzle. You can do this 3-4 times. It is amazing to watch children who are distracted or hyper begging to calm down and relax and improve their attention. This works on endurance, attention, and sequencing all while having fun.

2. Balloon Tennis:

I enjoy watching children achieve goals that they were unable to. Children who suffer from poor eye-hand coordination and spatial awareness often have a difficult time with sports. Because the balloon is slower moving than a ball, it allows the child an opportunity to track the balloon and get into the appropriate position to hit it accurately. This builds their confidence and the motor movement necessary for them to advance to using a large ball and eventually a smaller ball.

3. Homemade Bubbles:

This is a simple and fun activity. You can use various size wants, strings tied into a circle or even pipe cleaners bent into shapes.

  1. Pour 1/2 cup of dish soap into a large cup.

  2. Add 1 1/2 cups of water to the dish soap in the cup.

  3. Measure 2 teaspoons of sugar and add it to the water/soap mixture.

I have had some parents use a kiddie pool and fill it with this solution.

4. Make a Maze Out Cf Chalk:

Mazes are a great way to improve eye-hand coordination. You can have them complete simple or complex mazes. They can walk through the maze or push a toy through it. Either way, you are building their visual skills in this fun activity.

5. Sensory Bins:

I use sensory bins all the time in my practice. I have used kinetic sand, dry rice and beans, and even jello. Take a large storage bin, and fill it with toys and whichever modality you would like to use. Have your child try to find the hidden toys in the bin. This is a great way to get used to touching textures without focusing on the texture because the outcome is to get the toy and remove it. This is a great way to have your child learn to improve their tolerance to a variety of textures.

6. Planting a Garden:

This is a great way to introduce your child to where food comes from while allowing them to get messy. Helping you dig holes, plant the seeds, and helping to take care of them by watering them and making sure they are getting proper sunlight teaches responsibility. When the garden grows food that they can share with their friends and family it makes them feel accomplished.

7. Painting Rocks:

Have your child collect rocks into a bucket. When they found enough, they can bring the bucket to the wash station. Use a sponge with water and allow them to remove debris and dirt. Once dry, turn the rocks into adorable creatures with paint, googly eyes and pom-poms. You can create a rock garden or even a fairy tree.

8. Water Play:

Whether you have toys in a bin with water and your child is free to play with them, or you fill a water bottle sprayer and have your child spray at a target. I have used water balloons to have a fun water balloon fight or poured water down tubes to reach a target. Being creative with water allows your child to explore and learn and is a great way to have your child stay cool in the summer sun.

9. Art Activities:

Chalk, paint, and coloring are all wonderful ways to work on your child's visual, fine motor, and tactile skills. From sidewalk rainbow art to fingerpainting a portrait of your family, bringing the art outdoors allows your child the chance to try to play and make a mess.

10. Science Experiments:

From making volcanoes to homemade crystals, science is fun!! You can teach your child all while making a mess. There are so many science experiments I have done at home with my children and they love it as much as I do. Make sure you pick simple, safe, and age-appropriate ones to make sure you will have a good time.

Whether you are trying to get your child to improve their tolerance to sand or learning how to swim, allowing your child to get used to these outdoor textures is a wonderful way to improve their sensory skills.

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