Sensory Parenting Blog

We combine Sensory Integration and Parenting from a Pediatric Occupational Therapist and Mother team's perspective.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Outdoor Sensory Activities Continued... By Britt Collins MS, OTR/L

Now that June is almost over you may be getting antsy for some new summertime activities for your child. One thing that can be fun is a small parachute. You don't have to have a lot of kids to make the smaller ones work. Children love to play games with it (run under, taking turns, putting a balloon on top and trying to gently move parachute without knocking the balloon off, running under and sitting to make a tent over the top of the kids and more!)
Other fun activities that can help provide movement paired with heavy work which is calming to the nervous system include:
• big bubble wands
• outdoor water games with hose or water balloons 
• running through sprinklers 
• frisbee toss with partner
• kickball with a group of kids (help teach your child how to work as a team)
• set up outdoor obstacle course for example, a set up a few cones and line them up and have the kids have to kick a ball weaving in and out of the cones, b then jump rope or if that's too hard jump over the rope on the ground using two feet, c hula hoop either hula around hips, or have kids crawl through it while you hold it up, or jump into it and out of it while the hula hoop is lying on the ground, d have the children animal walk to next station. They can snake through grass, bear walk, frog hop, gallop etc and vary depending on physical ability, e toss a ball or object into a bucket or throw a ball into a target that you have set up. 
• if on a playground challenge them to an obstacle course on the actual playground equipment 
• hide and seek or tag (helps children work on winning and losing types of games) 
• swinging at park on regular park swing or if you have access to a tire swing or another type of swing that is different. Make sure you don't allow the child to spin too much and you always want them turn a few times in one direction and then the other so as to balance out their vestibular system
• have the kids or even just one child take a balloon and play "balloon volleyball" gently tossing into the air and trying to keep it from touching the ground. This helps with visual perceptual skills, motor planning and eye hand coordination 
• Pinterest has a ton of ideas for outdoor crafts and tactile activities as well

Of course swimming is a great sensory activity that also helps build muscle strength and coordination. Make sure you lather up the sunscreen and if your child is sensitive to putting on sunscreen you can try the spray or stick tubes for the face or slowly build up toleration trying lotion after baths and get them used to the tactile sensation of having a cream like substance rubbed on their bodies. 
Many times it's too hot to get outside depending on what part of the world you live in. In that case, create indoor obstacle courses for your child and have them relay with friends or siblings. 
You can have them animal walk down the hall or up and down the stairs, then crawl underneath kitchen table, jump from couch to cushions or mini trampoline to cushions, toss ball into target or bucket. There a million things you can do but this is just one example.