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Therapy Tips

9 Creative Sensory Ideas for a Summer of Fun

Summer is finally here! Warm days stretch out ahead and your children will soon be looking to you to fill that time with fun activities. Here are nine creative ideas that are great for children of all abilities, but are also fantastic for development of sensory processing and gross/fine motor skills.

 1. Frozen Fun

Freeze lots of small toys into a large block of ice, then supply your children with a variety of tools to dig them out. Source: Counting Coconuts

2. Mud Kitchen

Sensory Mud Kitchen

Make an outdoor mud kitchen with old pots, pans, bowls, spoons and measuring cups. Add “ingredients” like dirt, sand, leaves and flowers for hours of organic fun. Source: Rhythm of the Home

3. Beyond the Rock Garden

 Rock Garden

Build a garden play space with a large pot or container. Create scenes for your children’s favorite toys: rocks become cars, lumps of dirt become dinosaurs, a small pools of water become oceans. Source: Play, Grow, Learn

4. Something from Nothing

Sensory with boxes

Use what you already have on hand. Build with sticks, stones, and other natural tools.  A large cardboard box can be turned into a car, a boat, a spaceship, a house, or even a hideout! The possibilities are endless.

5. In the Dark

In the dark

Don’t stop playing when the streetlights come on! Some of the best fun can be had after the sun goes down. Place small glow sticks in balloons, or break one and mix the liquid into soap solution for glowing bubbles. Use a flashlight for an after-hours scavenger hunt or play flashlight tag.

6.  Music Time

music wall

Make an outdoor music wall. Hang items on a fence and use spoons or drumsticks to create a variety of sounds. Try muffin trays, cake cooling racks, biscuit cutters, egg rings, PVC piping, wind chime tubing, hubcaps, metal kitchen utensils, bells, and old keys or other small pieces of metal. Source: Filthy Wizardry  

7. A Work of Art

Outdoor Canvas

A painter’s drop cloth makes a great outdoor canvas for painting and drawing. Hang it up outside and use colored water in spray paint bottles, makers, crayons, paint and anything else you can find to create a masterpiece. Source: The Artful Parent

8. Kiddy Car Wash

Sensory Car Wash

Construct a kiddy carwash out of PVC piping for a great way to cool off on hot days. A huge step up from a traditional sprinkler, this easy project is also a deal: it can be built for around $30. Source: Family Fun

9. Build a Water Well

Sensory water well

Build a water wall for wet fun on hot summer days.  Use a variety of plastic containers drilled into a board so that water is directed in various streams, drips and flows when poured over the top. Format your wall so the water is collected in containers at the bottom, to be reused again and again. Source: Playing by the Book  

WRITTEN ON December 24, 2013 BY:


Jessica Hunt is the director of occupational therapy and sensory integration programs at the Kaufman Children’s Center. She has extensive experience in pediatric occupational therapy and sensory integration in both the home and clinic settings. For more information on available programs, call 248-737-3430 or visit