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15 Fun Summer Activities for Kids by a Pediatric Therapist

May 25th, 2021 | by NAPA Team


May 25th, 2021

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.

15 Fun Summer Activities for Kids

We’ve compiled 15 activities that will keep your child entertained while also benefiting them in countless ways. Time for some fun!

1. Playing In The Water

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!

2. Playing At The Park

15 summer activities for kids by pediatric therapists.

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!

3. Homemade Obstacle Course

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.

4. Try New Fine Motor Skill Games

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.

5. Get Creative In The Kitchen With Summer Recipes

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.

6. Gardening

Looking for fun summer activities for kids? Find 15 ideas by pediatric therapists in this blog post!
  • Pulling weeds or picking dandelions – targets arm strength and anticipatory postural responses to maintain their balance! 
  • Collect sticks or wood chips from all over – repetitively squatting to pick something up strengthens legs and improves balance 
  • Water play – fill a bucket, have your kiddo carry it around to help water the plants, and secretly work on strengthening! 

Just playing in the dirt – holding a deep squat is great for ankle stability, and getting messy is great sensory play!

7. Get Outdoorsy

  • Navigating up and down hills or across uneven surfaces like grass or gravel builds strength and endurance 
  • Side stepping or forward stepping over rocks encourages balance and ankle strengthening 
  • Lying in the grass, encourage your kiddo to army crawl/slither like a snake and sneak up on an unsuspecting family member. Army crawl engages the entire body and strengthens the core and arm muscles 
  • Playing barefoot in sandbox strengthens ankles and legs – especially while squatting, jumping, and digging holes with feet 


8. Simon Says

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.

9. Dancing

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.

10. Walk Like an Animal or Wheelbarrow Walking

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.  

11. Playing Gross Motor Games

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!

12. Playing With Chalk

Looking for fun summer activities for kids? Find 15 ideas by pediatric therapists in this blog!

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:

  • Draw a balance beam with chalk – walk along the balance beam frontwards, backwards or sideways! Another fun idea is to place red solo cups on both sides and encourage your child to toe tap the cups as they walk along the balance beam.
  • Hopscotch – Take this classic game up a notch by encouraging your child to jump over a square (say, “The LAVA square will burn your feet! Better jump over it to the safe square!”)
  • Make a Racetrack – Draw a track for their ride-on toy, trike, bike, or scooter – tracing the chalk line wherever it goes targets motor planning and bilateral coordination for steering.
  • Chalk Twister – Works on color recognition, knowing left and right, and motor planning required to arrange their body to reach each color. Reaching and stretching, and then bearing weight in unique positions and balancing to maintain these positions works the vestibular sense, as well as targets strengthening! 
    • Draw chalk circles on the ground. Lots of smaller circles everywhere makes it easier for smaller bodies, like toddlers, but bigger kids can play with fewer and bigger circles 
    • Randomly call out left or right, then hand or foot, and then a color. Each player has to place the corresponding hand or foot on the circle of that color! 
    • Keep going until someone falls, and then play it again!
  • Chalk Obstacle Course – Putting all these chalk ideas together – walking the chalk line, jumping through hopscotch squares, stomping on chalk circles, drawing hand and footprints to walk on, or any similar ideas you can think of will encourage gross motor movement with a variety of activities all in one.


13. Animal Yoga Poses

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!

14. Let’s Play Ball!

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:

  • Throwing:
    • Pick a target, any target, just not a window! Pick which arm will be their throwing arm, then have your child STEP forward with the opposite foot, POINT at the target with the opposite hand and arm, LOOK at the target so their ball knows where to go, and THROW at the target. Step, point, look, and throw – we say it as we play it so the motor plan will stick! Hand-over-hand guidance can help encourage beginner throwers! 
  • Shooting:
    • We don’t need a hoop to play basketball! Gardening buckets, the kiddie pool, a chair with arms, anything can be a basket for basketball. Or you can duct tape a pool noodle to make a circle, and there’s your basketball hoop! 
  • Kicking:
    • Soccer play targets single leg balance to kick with one foot as well as motor planning to coordinate where we want the ball to go. Any spot in the yard can be a soccer goal!  
  • Hitting:
    • Modify baseball with a pool noodle as a bat and your choice of a ball: 
      • Regular balloons – these “baseballs” move slowly, making it easier to coordinate movements in time to hit 
      • Beach balls – these are usually faster than balloons, but still allow increased time for motor planning as kids learn this skill 
      • Water balloons – these are typically much smaller targets, and therefore harder to hit, but may come with a fun splash if they get hit just right!
  • Catching:
    • Catch is a time-tested tradition and also a great way to work on gross motor skills . Start with larger balls and gradually make them smaller as your child’s skill level increases. Use balloons, deflated beach balls, or soft, spongy balls for children who are still mastering catching – they move slower and are more forgiving if a catch is missed. If your child picks up the catching and throwing movements quickly, consider increasing the challenge by having them stand on a squishy surface (pillow, couch cushion) or on one leg while playing.  ​


15. Sensory Bins

Keep your child entertained this summer with sensory bins - the perfect summer activity for kids!

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

That’s a Wrap on Our Favorite Fun Summer Activities for Kids!

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! 

Find more activities in the NAPA blog!

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