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Summertime Sensory Fun

Children receive lots of different sensory inputs while attending school: auditory input through peers, bell sounds, and teacher, visual input through posters and images on the classroom walls, looking around in the halls, and exploring all the play options on the playground, vestibular and proprioceptive input through playing on the playground or in gym class, walking through the halls, or sitting in different positions during center time, tactile through the variety of textures interacted with on table surfaces or through craft materials. Because school is out during the summer, it can be hard for kiddos to meet their sensory needs, but don’t worry! There are many fun and often free activities that you and your kiddo can do at home.

Vestibular System:

Your vestibular system is how your brain interprets movements and head position in space. Below are activities that provide sensory input to this system:

  • have a dance party – spin, roll, sway, shake- anything that allows our head to move
  • Use the arm rest of a chair, a yoga ball, or your lap to allow your child to reach backwards/
    upside down over it to pick up a toy or puzzle piece. Then, have them sit up and place it in
    it’s matching spot or where it goes. Next, repeat the collecting items activity but complete it
    on the floor, rolling side to side to pick up items
  • Swimming provides all sorts of vestibular (proprioceptive and tactile too) input through
    changes in head positions and fast and slow movements throughout the pool
  • Swinging is a great source of vestibular input- if able to complete safely, try swinging in
    different directions as well (side to side, crooked, circles)
  • Merry-go-rounds, slides, and balance beams all provide vestibular inputs and can be found
    at a park (Can’t get to a park? Curbs also make great balance beams)
  • Use painter’s tape to make an obstacle course- walking the balance beam, jumping from
    shape to shape, create a path
  • Ride a bike
  • *Be careful with activities that involve spinning. This provides very strong vestibular input
    that can overwhelm the sensory system. Make sure that spinning takes place in both
    directions and is followed by heavy work/proprioceptive input


Your proprioceptive system provides a sense of where your body is at in space and provides information as to how much force is being used. It responds to input to the joints (pushing, pulling, hanging). Below are activities that provide sensory input to this system:

  • Cosmic Kids yoga on YouTube has a variety of character themed yoga videos (See link here)
  • Play grounds are great for input for all the senses- climbing, jumping, and doing monkey
    bars all provide lots of input to our joints
  • Many household chores are a great way to get proprioceptive input as well because they
    require us to push and pull- sweeping, vacuuming, carrying in groceries then putting them
    away, wiping walls and counters
  • Make an obstacle course out of items that you have at home- couch cushions work great for
    this one (incorporate crashing, crawling, climbing into these to maximize the proprioceptive
  • Complete a wheelbarrow race or animal walk race


Your tactile system is your body’s sense of touch. Below are activities that provide sensory input to this system:

  • Water play (pool, splash pad, water bucket with toys in back yard)
  • Play with play-doh- create your favorite ocean animals, summer game, or summer treatAdded bonus- work on visual motor skills by using play-doh mats: linked Here
  • Walk barefoot on different surfaces- how do they feel on your feet?
  • Bake something with your child- bread or cookies allow for texture exploration as well as
    proprioceptive input to the hands if you all are rolling, kneading or pressing


Your visual system allows you to interpret things that we see in our environment. Below are activities that provide sensory input to this system:

  • Make a fun sensory bottle to look at (click here for ideas)
  • Play I Spy or go on a scavenger hunt- What kind of colors can you find? What about
    different textures? Can you find more than one and sort different items?
  • Some kiddos can also be sensitive to all the extra visual input the sun provides- hats,
    sunglasses, and visors can help reduce overwhelming visual stimuli


Your auditory system allows you to interpret and filter out important things that you hear in your environment. Below are activities that provide sensory input to this system:

  • Go on a nature walk either at a park, your neighborhood, or a greenway- talk with your child
    about what kind of sounds that you hear- are the quiet or loud? What does it sound like?
  • There are lots of group activities in the summer, and sometimes the sounds can be too
    much. Headphones can be worn to reduce this input if it is overstimulating, or you can
    always take a break and return to the activity once your child feels more regulated.
    Sometimes, your child might just need to cover their ears for a second to manage the


Your oral/gustatory system is responsible for input to the mouth as well as taste. Below are activities that provide sensory input to this system:

  • Blow bubbles
  • Try foods of different temperatures- ice cream and popsicles make fun summer snacks.
    Plus- you can make your own popsicles with your favorite fruits or juices
  • Drink thick smoothies or milkshakes
  • Have outdoor straw races- make your own race track and find different items in nature that
    might be able to race. Then, get a straw and see who can blow it across the finish line first.
    Talk about what you see or what you think will happen- which one will go/went faster, slower,
    which one was harder to move, will it move?

Don’t forget- summer is a time to have fun together! Get creative and see what new games or activities you and your kiddo can come up with.

Delaney Clements, MOT, OTR/L