It’s summer! Well technically it’s still spring, but as far as your kids are concerned, summer is here! Even if school is still on, you can assume their minds have checked out weeks ago. Whether your child likes water, arts and crafts or to cuddle up with a good book, summer is a great time to provide sensory activities that are more accessible than during the school year. We’re sharing our favorite indoor and outdoor activities, from toddlers to teens (see recommended ages for each product).
Eye-Hand Activities: Go ahead. Grab a ball, parachute or a hopper ball and head outside. It’s a great time to work on catching skills, eye-hand coordination and target tossing. Eye hand coordination provides opportunities for crossing midline (crucial for reading), mastering timing and upper bodywork. You can play ball in the yard, pool or at the beach. Try balls of different sizes and weights and textures to add sensory elements to the eye-hand task.
Sensory Corner. Create a sensory corner this summer with some weighted blankets, crash pads and cool lighting. You can even add a sensory swing to use year round. A sensory corner is the perfect place to relax and unwind, especially with no homework to do (did you say summer packet?). This sensory oasis can also provide a great spot to snuggle up with a good book from that summer reading list.
Water Water Everywhere. Head for the beach, the pool or a river for summer sensations. You may even be able to find a natural water hole near where you live. A hike to a waterfall can be breathtaking and also provide a plethora of natural sensations. If the water is too far away, why not bring water to your own backyard? Water (and sand) provide great hand therapy as well as sensory integration, and the summer weather allows you to make a mess outside. If it’s a rainy day, you can let your kids play near the waterspout or water hose or just walk barefoot with an umbrella. You can also create your own sand table with a small outdoor table and some dish bins. Now dump in your sand and you’re good to go!
Get Mobile. Scooters, bikes and trikes are a necessary part of any summer vacation. Most cites now have beautiful greenways for biking, hiking or walking. For toddlers and kids with autism and special needs, movement is therapeutic and encourages balance reactions and sensory processing skills. Learning to ride a bike for the first time? Take off the pedals and make sure your child’s feet can reach the ground flat footed. Once they can handle balancing the bike in motion, you can put the pedals back.
Pack A Picnic. When was your last picnic? Honestly I don’t remember one since my kids were little, but grab a blanket and some snacks or an entire meal and head outdoors to a local park or amphitheater to enjoy the fresh air and good music. Toss in some of your favorite crunchy foods for a mouthful of sensory integration and oral motor workout while hanging out under your favorite tree. If a park is too far away, take your picnic right outside your own front door.
Vestibular Therapy. Summer is great for outdoor swinging, climbing and jumping! Whether you have a tree swing or an outdoor swing set, summer allows your kids to play all day while getting vestibular and sensory integration therapy. Swing, climb and jump in the playground until the kids are dirty and ready to come in. And then send them right back out again!
Even a rainy day in the summer can provide a new sensory experience. As you look outdoors and indoors, you’ll discover great moments for sensory exploration and new adventures in learning! Don’t forget to pack these neat travel tools to help you get there and back.