I love coming up with sensory activities for children! My daughter is 22 months old now, so we have been able to do a lot of the more messy sensory activities lately! Summer is the perfect time to get outdoors and do some of those sensory activities that you would rather not do inside (like water or sand!).
Today I have 5 great outdoor, summer sensory activity ideas for you!
What is a sensory activity?
Sensory activities typically involve the 5 senses, which are taste, touch, sight, smell, and hearing. There is also a 6th sense which is the vestibular (balance and the inner ear) and proprioception systems (sensation in the joints and muscles). So if your activity involves any of these senses, than it is a sensory activity!
5 Summer Sensory Activities for Children
1. Visit a community herb garden, or plant your own!
One day a few weeks ago, we went with grandma to a local community park. This park also happens to have a huge vegetable and herb garden area. My mom really enjoyed taking my daughter around and smelling the different herbs. Since she is still young, it was also a great learning experience of not pulling or damaging the plants. So we practiced touching them gently and also leaning into them to smell them or rubbing our fingers on the leaves and then smelling them!
2. Wading in a creek
My daughter LOVES water! We went on a hike at a local park one week and happened across a creek that we needed to cross in order to continue our hike. It was a perfect time to let her wade in the creek for the first time, she even had water shoes on! She loved feeling the water in the little water fall pictured above, stomping in it with her feet, feeling the stones and rocks at the bottom of the creek and looking for fish! We talked about how cold the water was, what kinds of animals we saw or might find and listened to the birds singing around us!
The outdoors is one great natural sensory experience!!
3. Make your own mini sand box!
We don’t have one of the large sand boxes at our house yet, but I didn’t want my daughter to miss out on exploring sand this summer. I had also found some child size shovels and rakes that were perfect for a sand box in the dollar isle of Target. So I made our own mini sand box on the back porch. I purchased a large plastic bin from the store, filled it with a 5lb. bag of sand and placed some toys in it for her. We actually bought pool sand instead of the regular play sand. The pool sand is a little bit grittier, which I liked better than regular play sand. However, you could use either.
4. Have an outdoor water & sand table!
We were lucky enough that grandma and grandpa got us this nice water table for Christmas last year! A water table is one of my favorite sensory activities for children! I purchased some water type toys from IKEA and it also came with some as well. I also included a bath tub toy set. I just recently added the sand to the top part of the water table. She has enjoyed it a lot more since I added the sand as well!
5. Plant a garden or make a garden sensory bin!
I don’t have a picture for this last one because we actually have not made this yet, but I would love to before the summer ends! I have a black thumb and we also have 3 large dogs, so a regular garden is not that practical for us. However, I would love to have some plants or vegetables in bins on the porch! You can easily get your kids involved with this one, adding the dirt and planting the seeds.
If you have a black thumb, like me, and would rather do a garden sensory bin, there are lots of ways you can do this! Simply get a plastic bin or tub and add a layer of garden dirt. Include some small shovels and rakes, and then place pebbles, rocks, leaves, or fake flowers in it! Please make sure that you don’t include small items that could pose a choking hazard to young children.
Here are a couple of my favorite garden sensory bins that I found on Pinterest:
- Garden Sensory Tub
- Gardening Sensory Bin
- Digging for Worms Sensory Activities – can’t forget this one, perfect for gardening too!
I am always pinning great sensory activities on my Sensory Fun Pinterest board too!
Do you have any great summer sensory activity ideas?
If so, I would love to see them! Simply post pictures to Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #SummerSensoryFun. I will be using that hashtag all summer sharing the great things we do! I would love to see what your family does too!
About the Author: Heather Greutman is a Christian wife, mother, homeschool graduate, blogger, and Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant. She strives to be a Proverbs 31 woman with all her “words fitly spoken like apples of Gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 25:11. She loves spending time with her daughter, creating fun sensory and handwriting activities for children, photography, coffee, and writing! She writes at Growing Hands-On Kids about Christian Montessori inspired homeschool with an Occupational Therapy twist! You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+.