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Sensory Activities for Summer

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As the summer sun shines brightly and the days get longer, it’s the perfect time to explore sensory activities that can make the season both fun and engaging for children with sensory needs. Here are some fantastic sensory-friendly ideas to help you and your child make the most of the summer months.

1. Water Play

Water is a wonderful sensory medium, offering endless opportunities for exploration and fun.


  • Splash Pads: Many communities have splash pads that are less overwhelming than crowded pools.
  • Water Tables: Fill a water table with toys, sponges, and containers for scooping and pouring.
  • DIY Water Wall: Create a water wall using recycled materials like plastic bottles and PVC pipes. Happy Hooligans has a great page explaining how to make one here.


  • Enhances tactile experiences.
  • Helps with temperature regulation on hot days.
  • Encourages fine motor skills through pouring and squeezing.

2. Sand and Sensory Bins

Sand provides a unique texture that can be calming and engaging.


  • Sandbox Play: Fill a sandbox with kinetic sand or natural sand, adding tools like shovels, molds, and small toys.
  • Sensory Bins: Create themed bins with different materials like rice, beans, or pasta, and hide small objects for a treasure hunt. if your looking for ideas on creating your own sensory bin, check out this blog.


  • Promotes tactile exploration.
  • Develops fine motor skills.
  • Offers a calming and grounding experience.

3. Nature Walks and Outdoor Exploration

Nature provides a rich sensory environment that can be both stimulating and soothing.


  • Nature Scavenger Hunt: Create a list of items to find, such as leaves, rocks, and flowers.
  • Texture Trail: Set up a trail with different textures to walk on, like grass, sand, and pebbles.
  • Bird Watching: Use binoculars to watch and listen for different bird species. Find a bird list from your area and see how many you can identify.


  • Encourages movement and physical activity.
  • Provides a variety of sensory inputs from sights, sounds, and smells.
  • Enhances observation and concentration skills.

4. Arts and Crafts

Art projects can be tailored to provide sensory experiences while fostering creativity.


  • Finger Painting: Use washable paints for tactile exploration.
  • Nature Collages: Collect leaves, flowers, and twigs to create natural artwork.
  • Sensory Bottles: Fill clear bottles with water, glitter, beads, and other small items for visual stimulation.


  • Stimulates creativity and self-expression.
  • Enhances fine motor skills.
  • Provides a calming and focused activity.

5. Sensory Gardens

Gardening can be a delightful sensory experience, offering various smells, textures, and sights.


  • Planting: Choose plants with interesting textures and scents, such as lavender, rosemary, or lamb’s ear.
  • Garden Exploration: Create a sensory path with different surfaces like stones, mulch, and grass.
  • Harvesting: Let your child help harvest fruits, vegetables, or herbs and explore their tastes and smells.


  • Encourages a connection with nature.
  • Provides a range of sensory inputs through touch, smell, and sight.
  • Enhances fine motor skills and responsibility.

6. Sensory-Friendly Crafts and DIY Projects

Indoor crafts and DIY projects can offer a controlled environment for sensory exploration.


  • Calming Jars: Fill jars with water, glitter, and food coloring for a soothing visual experience.
  • Textured Art: Use materials like sandpaper, fabric scraps, and foam sheets to create textured art pieces.
  • Homemade Playdough: Make playdough with different scents and colors to enhance tactile and olfactory senses.


  • Provides a creative outlet.
  • Offers sensory input through various textures and materials.
  • Can provide a sensory break, during busy summer activities.

Summer is a fantastic time to engage in sensory activities that can help your child learn, explore, and have fun. Whether you’re at home or out and about, there are countless ways to make summer both enjoyable and sensory-friendly. Try out these activities and watch your child thrive this summer!

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