With summer around the corner and kids almost out of school, it’s time to share some of our therapist’s favorite fun summer activities for kids! These activities will help to continue building your child’s skills during the summer while creating memories that will last a lifetime.
We’ve compiled 15 activities that will keep your child entertained while also benefiting them in countless ways. Time for some fun!
Your kids can run through crazy sprinklers, scoop and splash with a water table, make an awesome water wall, play with water balloons, squirt water pistols, or jump and play on a giant outdoor waterbed! Swimming pools make a great addition too! Swimming is an amazing activity that promotes sensory integration, motor planning, spatial awareness, bilateral coordination, improved core and overall strength, and more. For more fun, check out our 7 favorite water play activities!
Outdoor parks are the perfect place to build gross motor skills, fine motor skills, visual skills, sensory processing skills, and even social skills. Kids who crave proprioceptive input and need lots of “heavy work” can work their bilateral coordination, hand strength, and core muscles as they climb ladders and cargo nets and play on the monkey bars. Or they can get lots of good vestibular input as they slide, swing, and spin. Certain parks contain splash gardens that provide a much needed escape from the heat too!
Whether you choose indoor or outdoor, setting up a small obstacle course with objects found around the house is a great way to build several gross motor skills into one activity. Pillows make great stepping stones, tunnels can be found rather inexpensively on Amazon, and old pieces of wood make excellent balance beams. You can make the course as basic or as complex as your child can handle, and you always have the option of changing it to add variety and greater challenge.
You didn’t think an OT would leave out fine motor play from a list of awesome summer activities, did you? Where to begin?! Some fun fine motor activities and games for school-age kids might include painting with a squirt bottle, squirting down a tower of cups, building marshmallow sculptures, or playing with LEGOs. Or they could create pictures with a Lite Brite, or play Connect 4, Uno, Kerplunk, Jenga, Operation, Angry Birds building and launching game, or Mancala.
Being involved in the food preparation process is not only fun for kids, it can actually be therapeutic for those who are picky eaters. You can try out recipes for different smoothies, homemade popsicles, fruit salads or veggie salads, sandwiches, and even homemade ice cream in-a-bag! Is your child not open to the idea of trying new summer fruits or veggies? Encourage them to at least interact with the food by creating faces, letters, numbers, or other scenes on their plate/table.
Just playing in the dirt – holding a deep squat is great for ankle stability, and getting messy is great sensory play!
Looking for a fun and engaging activity to boost your child’s body awareness and movement planning skills? Look no further than Simon Says! This classic game offers an enjoyable way to help your child develop a better understanding of their body and improve coordination. Begin by prompting your child to point to different body parts and mimic the poses you demonstrate. Once they master imitation, take it up a notch by giving verbal commands alone, challenging them to execute actions based solely on your directions.
Dancing is a way to work on gross motor skills while expressing freedom and creativity and teaching a sense of rhythm at the same time. Choose songs that you know your child will enjoy and that include specific movements, like “I’m a Little Teapot” and the “Hokey Pokey.” Dancing will help develop balance, coordination, sensory processing, motor learning and planning, and body awareness.
Walk like a bear on all fours to the bathtub. Crab walk to your bed. Wheelbarrow walk to the car. Animal walks are a great way to develop upper body strength, body awareness and overall coordination.
Some fun games to get the large muscle groups of the body working include building an obstacle course (indoors or outdoors), playing with bean bags, crawling through tunnels, and playing games like Twister, Balloon Tennis, Toilet Paper Knock Down, Glow in the Dark Bowling, “Ice Skating” in the Living Room, and other pretend games!
When it comes to playing with chalk as a fun summer activity, the possibilities are endless! In addition to letting your child’s imagination flourish by simply drawing with chalk, here are a couple other fun chalk ideas:
Yoga is a fun way to get your child participating in full body movement, at any age and ability! There are many health and wellness benefits to yoga, such as improving flexibility, strength, balance, body awareness, respiratory and GI function, reducing stress, and improving self-confidence. Check out these fun animal yoga poses for kids to start with!
When it comes to summer fun, ball activities are always a hit! Where to begin? There are too many fun ideas to list, but here are a few of our favorites:
If you’re looking for a way to keep your child entertained indoors, look no further! A sensory bin is any container filled with materials specifically chosen to stimulate the senses, allowing the child to explore and interact with the items as they choose. Sensory play is a great way to expose your child to a variety of textures, facilitate communication, and actively engage with your child. The very best thing about sensory bins is that they are just so much FUN! Find all the inspiration you need for your sensory bin in this blog post: Sensory Bins for Toddlers: Our Favorite Ideas and Items
We hope these ideas leave you feeling inspired and excited for a fun-filled summer with your kids! Children learn so much during unstructured free play – problem solving, emotional regulation, imitation, social skills, language, fine motor skills, the list is endless. So giving them new experiences with these activities will help them develop and hone so many new skills, all while having a blast!