As Akron occupational therapists, we’re frequently working on things like handwriting, self-regulation, and executive functioning. But summertime play is a veritable goldmine of sensory activities that can help boost a child’s development.
We’ve put together a list of summer occupational therapy play ideas that can help kids offset screen time, and can be a great resource for parents, teachers, camp counselors, etc. Our Akron occupational therapists tried to keep in mind the fact that many parents right now are looking for fresh summer activity ideas that won’t break the bank. Many of these are activities the whole family can enjoy!
Make Kinetic Sand
Kinetic sand is something of a wonder, and it’s fun for kids and adults alike. It’s easy to clean, magically sticks to itself, and can be easily stored. It also doesn’t dry out, so it lasts a long time. Kinetic sand can be used to help with tons of fine motor skills, like cutting, shaping, mixing, molding, and digging. It can help with with social-emotional regulation because it’s calming and provides great sensory input. Kids can get creative with it – especially when they make their own! The OT Toolbox offers an easy, three-ingredient Kinetic sand that simply requires sand, shaving cream, and baking soda. Super simple, and lots of fun to make!
Make Ice Cream Crafts
SO many ways to tailor this, using different materials and ideas. But in almost all of them, kids are going to be exercising their executive functioning and fine motor skills, as well as their creative muscles. Here are list of 15 cool ice cream craft ideas, using everything from balloons & glitter to cotton balls & construction paper to paper mache and paint. (Making their own ice cream sundae can also be a fun, once-in-a-while activity, with a little mess to be expected.)
There are SO many sensory benefits that come with gardening. And, as our Akron occupational therapists can explain, kids can help with planning the garden, learning about the various plants and what they need to grow, documenting the growth as they mature from seedling to full bloom. Planting and weed pulling is great for proprioception. Plant herbs, flowers, or vegetables – and let kids touch, taste, see, and hear. Add some wind chimes or a water feature for extra sensory input. Read more about the benefits of sensory gardening here.
Have your child make their own snack!
Maybe it’s not something you’d expect them to do every day, when the school year is in full-swing. But the summer can provide a great opportunity for kids to practice their independence and put together their own snack. This helps with fine motor skills, sensory input, executive functioning and (if they’re working with a parent or sibling) communication and social skills. Some easy recipes might include things like honey crispy treats, mini fruit pizzas, fruit kabobs, ants on a log, and fruit and yogurt parfaits. You might even consider pre-making a healthy, self-serve snack box and maybe some pictures with ideas to help them out.
Make an obstacle course in chalk.
This is going to help them work on motor planning, executive function, balance, and creativity! Set up in the driveway or nearby sidewalk, give them chalk and help them get started: Lily pads for frog hopping? A bridge to tip toe or balance over? An animal walk on a wavy line? A square for dancing? It doesn’t have to be complicated. There is a great example of a chalk obstacle course here!
Write a friend a letter.
It could be a friend. Or Grandma/Grandpa. Or maybe simply to someone in a nursing home who might be lonely and could use some cheering up. Have them work on their letter formation and draw a happy picture!
Tie dye a shirt.
This one requires some adult oversight, but it can be a lot of fun – and the results can be very cool! Check out these simple instructions for tie dying here.
These are just a few ideas! If you’re looking for some thoughts more tailored to your child’s exact skill-level and OT goals, just ask one of our Akron occupational therapists! We hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful – and safe – summer!
Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides speech therapy to children in Akron, Cleveland, Brecksville-Broadview Heights and surrounding communities. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.
Summer Development Activities for Kids, May 8, 2020, By Heather Greutman, GrowingHandsOnKids.com
More Blog Entries:
Does My Child Have Sensory Processing Disorder? Feb. 12, 2022, Akron Occupational Therapy Blog