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27 Outdoor Sensory Activities for Kids

The weather is warming up and summer is just around the corner. If you’re looking for some outdoor sensory activities, you’ve come to the right place.

Get ready to put away the sensory bins and check out these outdoor sensory activities to enjoy with your kids this summer.

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Benefits of Outdoor Sensory Play

Sensory play is an essential part of childhood development.

Our senses provide us with vital information thousands of times per day and starting from birth children use their senses to explore and learn about the world around them.

This is why it’s important to provide opportunities for sensory play for your kids every single day.

There are so many benefits for children with autism, SPD, or ADHD to engage in regular sensory play – including cognitive development, increased brain function, improved emotional regulation, and heightened ability to process new information. In other words, it helps them learn.

Benefits of Playing Outside

There are also many benefits to playing outside! According to Fisher-Price, it allows children to:

  • Explore and learn about their environment
  • Develop muscle strength and coordination
  • Gain self-confidence
  • Increase flexibility
  • Increase fine and gross motor skills
  • Develop a wide variety of physical skills

Summer Sensory Activities

27 Outdoor Sensory Activities for Kids This Summer - These are simple ways to get your kiddos outside and stimulate their senses, promoting health cognitive development #SensoryActivities #SensoryPlay #FamilyActivities

There’s no better time than the summer to get outside and enjoy the benefits of sensory play with your children.

I’ve compiled a list of what are, in my opinion, the best sensory experiences and activities to try outside this summer.

A Trip to the Beach

There are a ton of unique sensory experiences waiting for your little one at the beach. To start, just going for a walk barefoot in the sand is a great tactile experience. 

Outdoor Activities for Kids at the beach

1. Walking in the sand

Walk along the cool wet sand where the ground is firm, yet just soft enough for your toes to sink down.

Afterward, walk along the dry, warm sand and feel the heat on your feet and let the sand get stuck in your toes, as you do .

The opposing sensations are great for little sensory explorers and walking on the beach is great exercise too!

2. Bury them

Bury your child’s legs (and torso, if they’re okay with it) under the sand. The deep pressure from the weight of the sand provides unique proprioceptive input that you can’t experience anywhere else.

3. Collect objects on the beach

You can find a lot of different, and cool stuff on the beach. Grab a bucket and collect different things for your child to touch and feel for a new tactile experience. For example, you can find things like smooth sand glass, slimy seaweed, and bumpy shells.

4. Jump Over Waves

Head out into the water and try to jump over the waves as they come towards you. Or race to shore, trying to get back onto dry sand before the waves wash up over your feet and get you wet.

5. Swimming

Swimming is a great source of proprioceptive and vestibular input. It also helps children build bilateral coordination and gross motor planning.

6. Build a Sandcastle

Building a sandcastle incorporates various tactile experiences as your child works with wet sand, dry sand, and water. It also requires a bit of heavy work to fill and lift buckets filled with wet sand.

Water Play

Water play is an amazing way to cool off on a hot day and you don’t even need to leave home.

Plus you can relax in the sun (or the shade) while your child reaps the benefits of outdoor sensory play.

7. Wet and Dry Slide

This wet and dry slide is kind of like a slip and slide but you can use it dry too, so it can be used all year round.

Slipping in the water is a great way to experience proprioceptive and vestibular input. 

8. Water Table

Water Tables are great for sensory discovery activities and there are so many creative possibilities.

I love the ones with two sides like the one pictured below because you can fill one side up with water, and then fill the other side with whatever you want!

I keep kinetic sand in ours, but you can also try regular sand, water beads, or any other of these 50 sensory bin fillers.

Outdoor activities for kids - water play

9. Sprinkler Play

Attach a sprinkler to your hose and you’re in for hours of fun.

Your kids will run, scream, laugh, get wet, and cool off.

Sprinklers are a great way to cool off and get tons of exercise and sensory input at the same time.

10. Splash Balls

Splash balls are soft, fabric-covered foam balls that can hold a fair amount of water …making them perfect for a water fight!

These are softer than water balloons which can even leave welts on the skin. Plus, they’re reusable.

11. Roll Down a Hill

Do you remember doing this as a kid?

Rolling down a grassy hill is one of the best ways for sensory seeking kiddos to get a huge burst of vestibular input all at once which can help with inappropriate sensory seeking behaviors for hours.

Outdoor activities for kids - rolling down a hill

Playground Activities

12. Monkey Bars

Hanging upside down from the monkey bars, climbing, and sliding are all great ways to get moving outside, improving gross motor planning and core strength.

13. Swinging

Swinging can be beneficial for sensory integration because it engages all of the senses at the same time.

Try getting your child to swing on their stomach for a different experience, or if they like it, twist the swing up and let them spin as it unravels.

14. Walk along the beams

Most playgrounds have stepping stones or beams to work on balance and coordination as well.

If they don’t have any as part of the play structure, there is likely a wooden box surrounding the play area that you can use.

outdoor activities for kids - at the playground

Yard Work

15. Heavy Work

Heavy work is recommended for children seeking proprioceptive input. Allow your child to help you in the yard with heavy work activities.

Helping you rake the grass after mowing, moving the lawn furniture, or gathering wood for a campfire all make great outdoor sensory activities for kids.

Check out these 60 heavy work activities that help keep kids calm.

16. Gardening

Gardening is another great way to incorporate heavy work into your child’s day while also teaching them valuable life skills and having them complete chores! (win-win-win).

Get your child to help you with pulling weed and digging, or adding fertilizer to the garden. Playing in the dirt is also a fun tactile experience.

outdoor activities for kids - gardening

More Outdoor Ideas

There really are endless possibilities. We constantly use our senses to interpret the world around us, filter information and learn new things.

Related: 30 Unique Sensory Play Ideas

You can use pretty much any outdoor activity as a way to benefit your child and improve sensory integration

17. Ride a bike
18. Nature walks/scavenger hunts
19. Tree climbing
20. Canoeing or Kayaking
21. Have a campfire – roast marshmallows and hotdogs
22. Water gunfight
23. Hiking trip
24. Ziplining
25. Visit an amusement park
26. Rollerblading
27. Don’t be afraid to get dirty – play in the mud!

27 Outdoor Sensory Activities for Kids This Summer - These are simple ways to get your kiddos outside and stimulate their senses, promoting health cognitive development #SensoryActivities #SensoryPlay #FamilyActivities

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