Dads have a unique role in their children’s lives that may vary with cultural context or family structure. Their love and care contribute to their children’s overall well being and development. If you have a child with sensory processing disorder, it can be easy to feel like you are missing out on stereotypical “daddy and me” activities. This year on Father’s Day, enjoy sensory play together with your kids to make special memories that are unique to you and your kids’ needs!

1. Tickle Fight

Are you the dad who can tickle and tackle like no one else? While it may appear rough, this type of play is an important part of sensory development and emotional regulation. ‘Rough’ play helps develop motor skills, balance and strength. It also teaches kids how to manage their emotions, set boundaries, plan and problem solve. If you want to preserve your couch cushions, use a crash mat  and modular play sets, like the Zipline PlayScape Convertible Kids Couch , to run around, under and over.

2. Pressure’s On

There are many fun ways to incorporate deep pressure play that helps everyone calm down, especially after rough play. Take turns making each other into a ‘sandwich’ with two Mushy Smushy Bean Bag Chairs as the bread. Play catch with Weighted Tactile Bean Bags . Snuggle up under a weighted blanket for story time on the couch.

3. Roll, Roll, Roll, Along

Grab a Pressure Foam Roller to treat each other to a back massage The foam roller is perfect for providing heavy work to the masseuse and deep pressure to the one getting the massage. Not only is it a soothing pre-bed activity, but your kids will love getting the chance to help you relax instead of the other way around

4. Mark Your Spot!

Model good sportsmanship and fair play with some competitive playtime. Grab our Spot Markers , toss them on the floor and jump from one to the other while playing a game of leapfrog. Or grab some beanbags or a ball and use the spots for targets. Place the spots on a wall and race to touch the targets.

5. Tactile Time

Our Spiky Tactile Balls provide a great sensory workout for the hands and a great massage for dad. Your kids will love the feel and you will love the effect. Roll the spiky balls over the back, arms or legs for a wake-me-up.

6. Have a Ball

There are many interactive ways to spend quality time with your kids. One of the most popular is to play ball! Play a gentle game of catch with your little ones with these Weighted Textured Balls . Engage your older kids in a more rousing game with the Foam Zip Ball . There’s plenty of room for creativity here. Hop on Hopper Balls and race each other across the yard!

7. Figure It Out

Engage your kids in problem solving and creativity boosting activities. Tackle the Busy Fingers Tangram Gel Puzzles . Pull the Rainbow Stacker and Wooden Wave Stacker off the shelf to see what you can build together. Puzzles and construction like these promote critical thinking and learning from trial and error that your kids will carry forward.

8. Go Exploring!

Fathers can foster a sense of curiosity and imagination, encouraging children to explore the world around them. Help your child put on their Weighted Explorer Vest and climb into our Cozy Canoe ! You can row your way to the Pacific Ocean or sail to the other side of the world, getting there just in time for a fossil hunt in our Weighted Dino Sand

9. Pushing Boundaries

Join in the fun and push boundaries with your kids. Step into a Space Explorer and reach, pull and stretch to understand the space around you. Seal up the opening or pop your head out, eyes open. Give a great big hug to each other or roll around on the floor for a father-kid wrestling match.

10. Chill Together

Enhance your emotional connection to foster a sense of trust and security. Take a calming break in a Hammock Swing and let the day roll by. Grab a Sloth Heavy Hugger or cozy Weighted Plaid Blanket to snuggle on the couch. Relaxing together can prompt meaningful conversation and teach effective communication. Before you know it, Father's Day will be over but you'll feel closer than ever.

Most importantly, use this day to engage in shared experiences.  Playtime with your kids strengthens the bond between parent and child, creating lasting positive memories and builds confidence, self-esteem and resilience. 

This post was originally posted on 06/14/2015 by Aviva Weiss MS, OTR/L. It was updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness by Rivkie Berger, OTR/L on 06/05/2023.