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Ilana Danneman
BY Ilana Danneman
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Twelve Sensory Strategies for a Sensational Summer

Yahoo! Summer is here … and so are your kids. Even if you’ve packed those months off full of camps, vacations, and outings, you may find there is downtime to deal with. Boredom is not a bad thing when it leads to creativity, and honestly, you need to let boredom settle in a little for that to happen. Those pauses can also help your child work on problem-solving and impulse control.

Having a bowl of ideas for your kids to choose from or a jar with ideas on popsicle sticks for kids to select can help them start to learn to come up with ideas of their own. A game or activity with different sensory strategies is a good idea too. In addition, consider the following summer sensational ideas:

1. Plant a Garden

Great for heavy work and patience, planting a garden will provide hours of work, and results in two to four weeks can teach delayed gratification.

2. Get Outside

Just go out. Rain or sunshine, the summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors. Go for a walk, ride a bike, climb a tree, or play a game.

3. Find the Water

It can be a pool, waterfall, creek, or just the rain running down the waterspout from your roof. Water is therapeutic and a terrific sensory filter.

4. Get Crafty

Declare an art activity day. Include coloring, drawing, pottery, sand sculptures, jewelry-making, and more. Modern art is great too, so grab those recyclables, paper towel rolls, and items you think are just junk and see what your child’s imagination can create.

5. Visit the Library

Sure you can order on Amazon, but a trip to the library is full of touch, smells, sights, sounds, and sensations. You may want to spend a bit of time just flipping through books or reading quietly, too.

6. Try a New Puzzle

A visual delight and a terrific way to pass the time, puzzles work on sensory processing, visual tracking, shape, and imagery as well as geometry. Choose a level that can be accomplished in either a single sitting or two to three sittings for younger kids. For older children and teens, a large puzzle can be a summer project.

7. Hit the Bowling Alley

Bowling is terrific for sensory-seeking and sensory-under-responsive kids. The weight of the ball and the sound of the pins being knocked down provide a cause-and-effect sensory experience with friends and family.

8. Find a New Playground

Google can help you here to locate a playground within a certain radius or zip code. Motor planning, balance reactions, gross motor skills and social skills like waiting, patience, and turn-taking will all be challenged on this afternoon outing.

9. Find a Forest

Another visit to Google, and you can be on your way to a great hike in a neighborhood, state, or national park filled with wildlife, trails, and nature. This can provide a sensory outing like no other with physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits.

10. Take a Trip to the Farmers Market

Need to stock up on your fruits and vegetables? Head out to your local farmers market and let your child do the shopping. Weighing, seeing, smelling, and touching all come into play as well as calculations, navigation, and patience.

11. Try a New Sport

Summer is a great time to learn a new skill such as swimming, surfing, boogie-boarding, boating, or water-skiing. Take advantage of this opportunity to try a new sport or beef up skills on one your child may already enjoy.

12. Get on Some Wheels

Biking, skating, and skateboards can be a real thrill if used with proper safety equipment. Early-morning or late-evening hours are perfect for outdoor pavement activities when the weather is not as hot and the sun is a bit lower in the sky.  If your child is starting out on a bike, try a balance bike to start and then work up to a bike with pedals.

Ilana Danneman

Written on June 15, 2017 by:

Ilana Danneman is a product developer for Fun And Function. She has worked with therapists, teachers and parents of special needs children for 20 years and has been a physical therapist herself since 1986 with experience in acute care, spinal cord injury (Shepherd Center), outpatient rehab and pediatrics. Ilana has a passion for writing and teaching kids (and adults) how to move! She can be reached at [email protected]
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