Summer is a season of sensory delights! Whether it is feeling the warmth of the sun on our skin, hearing the laughter of children playing outdoors, enjoying a flavourful ice cream treat, breathing in the scent of flowers in full bloom, or gazing up at clear blue skies – summer is simply fantastic!
Read on for ideas on how families of children, youth, and adults with a disability can utilize their five senses to make the most of the summer season.
Sensory activities are those that stimulate the five senses (touch, smell, sight, taste, sound, as well as the vestibular and proprioceptive systems – balance/body awareness). While summer fun can certainly fill up our senses, it can also be overwhelming for those who experience sensory challenges.
Here are a few ideas that may help families balance the need for familiar routines while still allowing room for summer adventures and sensory experiences. Sensory activities may also help promote language, develop fine and gross motor skills, provide opportunities for social interaction, and enhance self-regulation.
- Create a social story about summer holidays
- Create a summer daily visual picture schedule
- Try giving your summer a theme: a daily theme (Movement Mondays, Wet & Wild Wednesdays, Free Play Fridays, etc.) and/or a weekly theme (Bugs, Dinosaurs, Adventures, etc.)
- Play a game of “I Spy”, organize a scavenger hunt, have fun with some yard games (ring toss, ladder golf, beach ball, bowling, mini golf, etc.), set up a movie morning
- Try a music therapy activity
- Have a dance party to your favourite music
- Visit a place with a waterfall, a lake, or some wild birds/animals
- Go to the zoo and see how many animal sounds you can hear
- Cook meals together, or have a taste test challenge
- Have a picnic on the lawn
- Make popsicles or smoothies
- Pick and eat some berries at a U-Pick farm
- Bake cookies
- Pitch a tent in the backyard – have a campfire (if it is safe to do so)
- Set up a cool aide or lemonade stand, with different flavours
- Go on a ‘scentsational’ neighbourhood walk – smell the flowers
- Set up sensory stations using buckets (rice, shaving cream, paint, sand, water, etc. – see link below for more ideas)
- Run through a sprinkler, set up a plastic pool, wash the car
- Freeze objects in containers (ice cube, or larger plastic containers)
- Make a creation out of recycled objects and/or objects from nature
- Exercise together
- Go swimming or to a splash park
- Participate in a service project together
- Explore a new trail or park playground
For more detailed and creative suggestions on sensory activities for children and adults, check out the following links:
The staff at Children’s Link wishes everyone a SENSATIONAL SUMMER!
Have fun, stay safe, and smile often 😊
Sandra Cicman, M.Ed.
Resource Links Director
Children’s Link Society