25 Outdoor Sensory Play Activities
The weather is warming up and summer is just around the corner. If you’re looking for outdoor summer sensory activities you’ve come to the right place. Get ready to check out these outdoor activities to enjoy with your kids this summer.
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 kiddos with autism to engage in regular sensory play – including cognitive development, increased brain function, improved emotional regulation, and heightened ability to process new information (better learning).
There are also many benefits to playing outside! According to Fisher Price, it allows them to explore their environment, develop muscle strength and coordination, and gain self-confidence. Playing actively outdoors also increases flexibility, fine and gross motor skills, and is related to the development of a wide variety of physical skills, including those involved in sports.
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Summer Sensory Activities
There’s no better time than the summer to get outside and enjoy the benefits of sensory play with your kiddos. So pack up those sensory bins and put them on the shelf and get started with these summer sensory activities instead!
A Trip to the Beach
There are a ton of unique sensory experiences waiting for your little one at the beach. Just going for a walk barefoot in the sand is a great tactile experience. Walk along the cool wet sand where the ground is firm, yet just soft enough for your toes to sink down.
Then walk along the dry, warm sand and feel the heat on your feet and let the sand get stuck in your toes. The opposing sensations are great for little sensory explorers and walking on the beach is great exercise too!
Bury your kiddos legs (and torso, if they’re okay with it) under the sand for a unique proprioceptive input activity that you can’t experience anywhere else.
Backyard 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.
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.
Sprinkler – Attach it to your hose and you’re in for hours of fun while your kids 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.
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 hurt burst of vestibular input all at once which can help with inappropriate sensory seeking behaviors for hours. (Find out how the vestibular system works here)
Go to The Playground
If you don’t want to prep for anything – the playground is one of the best places for summer sensory activities. You can find ways to stimulate all of the senses and have a ton of fun.
Related: Calm Down by Hanging Upside Down
Hanging upside down from the monkey bars, climbing, swinging, and sliding are all great ways to get moving outside, improving gross motor planning and core strength. Most playgrounds have stepping stones or beams to work on balance and coordination as well.
Heavy work is recommended for children seeking proprioceptive input. Allow your child to help you in the yard with heavy work activities. Raking grass and gardening are great ways to incorporate heavy work into your child’s day while also teaching them valuable life skills and having them complete chores! (win-win-win).
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 any outdoor activity as a way to benefit your child and improve sensory integration
- Ride a bike
- Nature walk/scavenger hunt
- Climb a tree
- Build a sandcastle
- Canoeing or Kayaking
- Jump waves at the beach
- Water balloon fight
- Water Gun fight
Got an idea that I missed? Drop it in the comments below!