Sensory Strategies for a Summer Full of Fun and Learning

Summer is here, and it brings a world of opportunities for children with sensory processing differences to thrive through fun outdoor activities. This post is your guide to practical advice and exciting sensory activities that can be enjoyed during the sunny summer months. These strategies are inspired by the principles of Ayres Sensory Integration, a therapy approach designed to support children with sensory processing differences.

Understanding Jean Ayres Sensory Integration:

ASI is a therapeutic framework built on the understanding that our brain receives, sorts, processes, and uses sensory information. This information includes touch, gravity, body position and movement, sight, smell, hearing, and taste. When our brain effectively organizes this information, we can respond adaptively to our environment. ASI aims to enhance these abilities through play, allowing for exploration and integration of sensory experiences, ultimately promoting better behavior, learning, and social participation.

Excavate an Ice Block

For a cool summer activity, fill a large container with water and various small items, freeze it, and let your child excavate the treasures. This provides tactile stimulation, works on grading force, problem solving and is a refreshing activity on a hot day.

Log Roll Race

This fun activity simply involves children rolling down a grassy hill. It provides tactile, vestibular, and proprioceptive input, all vital for sensory integration. **note switching head positions so your rolling both clockwise and counterclockwise is ideal!

Grow a Garden

Gardening is a fantastic sensory activity. From planting seeds and observing their growth, to tasting the fruits and veggies they’ve nurtured, children can engage several senses including touch, sight, and taste.

Sticks and Stones Obstacle Course

Using natural materials from your yard, create an obstacle course. This activity promotes a variety of body movements, and planning the course can also be a part of the fun.

Barefoot Walk Around

Walking barefoot across different outdoor areas can provide a variety of tactile sensations. Enhance this activity by setting up areas with different textures, like mud, water, sand, and pebbles.

Summer presents a wonderful opportunity to engage children in sensory activities that can aid their development and support their therapy goals and have a summer filled with fun, learning, and growth. Remember, each child is unique, and what works for one may not work for another so please speak with your OT and always consider the individual needs, preferences and comfort levels to see what would be best for your child!  Enjoy the summer sunshine!

Written by Lynne Giordano, MS, OTR/L