5 Sensational summer activities

by | May 24, 2019 | Occupational Therapy

Sensory processing is the ability to organize and understand the information we receive through our senses and from our environment. Sensory play allows children to actively use their senses in a variety of ways to explore, play, and be creative, while also building new connections in the brain and supporting nearly every aspect of a child’s development.

  • Squeeze lemons to make lemonade
    • What you need: pitcher, large spoon, lemons to make 1 cup of lemon juice, 1 cup sugar, and 6 cups water.
    • Cut the lemons in half and squeeze into a bowl or pitcher. For smaller hands, cut into quarters or smaller.
    • After squeezing the lemons, combine ingredients, and stir.
    • This activity engages multiple senses and incorporates strengthening. When squeezing a lemon, the child must grade the amount of force he or she uses in order to squeeze the juice out. They also get to use their sense of touch, smell, and taste.
    • For older children, make a list of 2,3, or 4 directions for the child to practice following multiple steps and incorporate sequencing.
  • Dinosaur Eggs – Help them Hatch!
    • Our tactile system is responsible for perceiving a variety of touch, including discriminating between hot, warm, and cold temperatures. This activity involves both warm and cold temperatures.
    • What you need: Muffin tin or ice cube tray, small dinosaurs
    • Place one dinosaur in each cube or cup, fill with water and freeze.
    • Once they are frozen, help the baby dinosaur hatch! Use an eye dropper (or turkey baster) with warm water to melt the ice away.
  • Sprinkler games
    • Playing in a sprinkler is a great way to cool off and incorporate the sensory system.
    • Have a sponge bucket race
      • Place buckets about 20-30 feet from the sprinkler (one bucket per child or team)
      • Each child gets their sponge wet in the sprinkler, then runs to their bucket to wring it out. The first full bucket wins!
      • Instead of running, have the kids frog jump or log roll to the bucket. Then, crab walk or bear walk back to the sprinkler to incorporate more proprioceptive input.
  • Beach in a bin
    • Create an ocean themed sensory bin with blue jello!
    • What you need: blue jello, small box or bread pan, sea creatures, sea shells, other ocean themed toys (such as treasure chests, boats, etc.), oatmeal.
    • Place sea creatures in the jello (ocean) on one half of the box or pan and allow it to set.
    • Once the jello has set, create the beach by pouring the oatmeal on the jello, on the half without the sea creatures.
    • Add in sea shells, boats, and other toys, and allow the kids to explore and play.
    • Try catching fish with a scoop or with your hands, walking the crabs onto the shore, or helping the boat sail through the ocean.
  • Paintsicles – Make art with frozen paint cubes!
    • Mix 1-part paint with 1-part water in an ice cube tray or popsicle tray.
    • Freeze over night with popscicle sticks. (For more messy play, freeze without popsicle sticks.)
    • Roll out some butcher paper, or put a tarp down under cardstock or watercolor paper and create your masterpiece!
    • Try: Turn on music and try to paint to the rhythm of the music. Listening to music involves many areas of the brain from our brain stem, which controls vital body functions, our cerebellum, which is responsible for movement and coordination, to the amygdala which plays a key role in processing our emotions.

If you have concerns about your child’s development or sensory processing, Contact T.E.A.M. 4 Kids to schedule an evaluation with an occupational therapist at our Surprise location or at our Peoria location opening soon.

Hannah Jacobs, OTD, OTR/L