Sensory Activities for the Summer
Summer is a great time to get in a lot of sensory experiences. And those sensory experiences can ultimately help your child behave better. Especially if they are struggling with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) or sensory sensitivities.
Depending on whether you have a child that is over responsive (reacts intensely and negatively to sensory experiences), under responsive (seems like they are slow to notice or engage in experiences) or sensory craving (reacts intensely or wildly to sensory experiences, seeking out more and more), will determine which sensory experiences will help your child best. Observe what your child likes to do or what they avoid if you are unsure whether they have sensitivities. Children's bodies tend to do activities that feel good and help them feel organized. But if your child's avoidance or performance of a task interferes with their life, it is time for a closer look.
The following activities help develop the vestibular and proprioceptive senses. The vestibular sense is where your balance comes from. It helps you know where your head is in relation to your body and the earth. The proprioceptive sense is how you know how to move your body. It helps your muscles, tendons and joints know how to move, with how much force and at what speed.
When there are sensory sensitivities or craving related to the vestibular and/or proprioceptive senses a child may appear clumsy, have a poor sense of body space, or seem like a wild child in activities. Helping your child find ways to have sensory experiences will help them reduce these behaviors. Sensory experiences can help regulate a child's body, making them feel more successful.
The below activities can help integrate vestibular and proprioceptive senses.
Activities at Home:
- Eat applesauce or yogurt thru a straw
- Vacuum (if your child does not have auditory sensitivities)
- Carry grocery bags into the house
- Flop on the bed
- Press hands (or any body part) against the wall with all their strength for 15 seconds
- Walk like various animals (crab walk, bear walk, frog jump, etc.)
- Use an old tennis ball and have them wrap rubber bands around it twice. (This also makes a good fidget for a child to play with.)
Activities at the playground:
- Swing Set: Hold up a stick as a target for them to kick/push against as they swing forward.
- Swing Set: Have them lay facing down on the swing seat and twirl themselves in one direction. Then have them let go and unwind.
- Swing Set: Have them lay facing down on the swing seat and wind themselves up in one direction. When they let go have them spread their arms and legs into a star position. As they unwind, ask them to go from a star to crossing their arms and feet (like a figure skater does in the air) and then back to a star position.
- Swing Set: Have them push you on the swing set
- Teeter-Totter: Have them walk from one end to the other
- Teeter-Totter: Have them straddle the middle and tip back and forth from side to side
- Use a paper bag closed at both ends so it resembles a ball of air and let them kick it around.