Outdoor Sensory Diet Activity Cards

You may have seen a lot of outdoor play posts here on The OT Toolbox recently. There’s a reason why! We’ve been gearing up for the release of The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook which will be released on April 10th.  As a way to celebrate, we’re sharing three HUGE free resources related to sensory needs. 


Up first is a printable packet all about taking sensory diet activities into the outdoors. Outdoor sensory diets are the perfect way to add sensory input that kids need!





Use these outdoor sensory diet activity cards and sensory challenges to help kids who need a sensory diet or when discovering how to create a sensory diet that works and meets the needs of kids with sensory processing disorder, perfect for the occupational therapist who is looking for effective, easy, and fun occupational therapy activities!






Outdoor Sensory Diet Activity Cards



Research tells us that outdoor play improves attention and provides an ideal environment for a calm and alert state, perfect for integration of sensory input. In fact, outdoor play provides input from all the senses, allows for movement in all planes, and provides a variety of strengthening components including eccentric, concentric, and isometric muscle contractions. The outdoors are a vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile, and overall sensory-enriched goldmine!



There’s more: Providing opportunities for sensory diet activities in the outdoors encourages open-ended play, imagination, creativity, body awareness, learning skills, self-confidence, gross and fine motor development, attention, and social-emotional skill development.

It can be a real struggle to help kids manage tricky sensory-related challenges.

Parents find it  difficult to weed through all of the information and pull out what will work for their child.

Teachers may struggle with kids who fall out of their chairs, can’t focus, and feed off other students. They may feel compelled to help these students but lack resources, time, or tactics.

Therapists may search for fresh ideas that provide the right kind of sensory input and will be carried over at home and at school, all while fitting into the child’s occupational performance sweet spot.

Use these outdoor sensory diet activity cards and sensory challenges to help kids who need a sensory diet or when discovering how to create a sensory diet that works and meets the needs of kids with sensory processing disorder, perfect for the occupational therapist who is looking for effective, easy, and fun occupational therapy activities!

Do one or more of the categories described above sound familiar?

Maybe you are trying sensory strategies, searching for information, and creating sensory diets that just aren’t working. You’re doing all of the right things, but struggle to meet the sensory needs of an individual child.

Use these outdoor sensory diet activity cards and sensory challenges to help kids who need a sensory diet or when discovering how to create a sensory diet that works and meets the needs of kids with sensory processing disorder, perfect for the occupational therapist who is looking for effective, easy, and fun occupational therapy activities!

That’s where the Outdoor Sensory Diet Cards and Sensory Challenge Cards come into play.

They are a FREE printable resource that encourages sensory diet strategies in the outdoors. In the printable packet, there are 90 outdoor sensory diet activities, 60 outdoor recess sensory diet activities, 30 blank sensory diet cards, and 6 sensory challenge cards. They can be used based on preference and interest of the child, encouraging motivation and carryover, all while providing much-needed sensory input.

Here’s a little more information about the Outdoor Sensory Diet Cards:
    • 90 outdoor sensory diet activities
    • 60 outdoor recess sensory diet activities
    • 30 blank sensory diet cards, and 6 sensory challenge cards
    • They can be used based on preference and interest of the child, encouraging motivation and carryover, all while providing much-needed sensory input.
    • Research tells us that outdoor play improves attention and provides an ideal environment for a calm and alert state, perfect for integration of sensory input.
    • Outdoor play provides input from all the senses, allows for movement in all planes, and provides a variety of strengthening components including eccentric, concentric, and isometric muscle contractions.
    • Great tool for parents, teachers, AND therapists!

Use these outdoor sensory diet activity cards and sensory challenges to help kids who need a sensory diet or when discovering how to create a sensory diet that works and meets the needs of kids with sensory processing disorder, perfect for the occupational therapist who is looking for effective, easy, and fun occupational therapy activities!

Here’s the thing: Outdoor play is the ideal setting for incorporating the “right kind” of sensory input. A child who uses a therapy band in the classroom receives just one direction of proprioceptive input. Outdoor play provides sensory input in all planes, directions, and with multiple senses. The sensory diet cards in this free printable pack can be used in SO many ways to help individuals with specific sensory needs.


Check out more about outdoor activities…like play…and sensory diets:




Use these outdoor sensory diet activity cards and sensory challenges to help kids who need a sensory diet or when discovering how to create a sensory diet that works and meets the needs of kids with sensory processing disorder, perfect for the occupational therapist who is looking for effective, easy, and fun occupational therapy activities!
There’s more:

  • Outdoor sensory diet activities are easy, fun, and motivating…and they make memories for the whole family while meeting the needs of a child with sensory processing challenges.






  • Outdoor sensory activities can be completed as a group or on an individual basis, and learning can be incorporated right into the tasks.





  • Teachers will find the outdoor recess sensory diet cards appropriate for the right kind of sensory-based brain breaks throughout the day.


  • The great outdoors is the biggest sensory gym you can imagine…and all of the sensory equipment is already there! From tree stumps, to hills, to pebbles, to pavement…outdoor sensory diet strategies can occur with little or no equipment.

  • Parents will love these outdoor sensory strategies that make memories for the whole family.

  • The whole family can join in on these sensory brain breaks! They provide the best kind of calming proprioceptive input, alerting movement, and sensory-based play that we ALL need!

  • The outdoor sensory diet strategy cards include a section of outdoor recess activities. These are perfect for the parent advocating for more sensory input for their child at school. The school playground is a powerful source of calming and organizing input!

  • Therapists will find the Outdoor Sensory Diet Cards a valuable tool in creating home programs. Every child needs more of this type of play!

  • Sometimes therapists run into issues with sensory diet carryover at home or in the classroom. These are sensory-based activities that kids will love and WANT to do!

  • As an added bonus, the Outdoor Recess Sensory Diet Cards included in this free packet can be used at any neighborhood playground, making a quick stop at a park a motivating means of incorporating much-needed sensory exercise.

  • The Sensory Diet Challenge Cards incorporate all of the senses and are a quick checklist of activities that can be used for easy sensory activities.

Be sure to grab the Outdoor Sensory Diet Cards and use them with a child (or adult) with sensory processing needs!

Use these outdoor sensory diet activity cards and sensory challenges to help kids who need a sensory diet or when discovering how to create a sensory diet that works and meets the needs of kids with sensory processing disorder, perfect for the occupational therapist who is looking for effective, easy, and fun occupational therapy activities!



Outdoor Recess Sensory Diet Activities

Kids are spending less time playing outdoors. From after-school schedules to two working parents, to unsafe conditions, to increased digital screen time, to less outdoor recess time…there is just less time for kids to get outside and PLAY! 


When it comes to sensory play, using the outdoors in meeting sensory needs and through sensory challenges is perfect for those looking for easy and fun ways to meet sensory needs in kids!



Use these outdoor recess sensory diet activities for kids who need sensory input throughout the school day or crave sensory activities. The sensory diet activities can be used in various settings in the school environment, providing sensory challenges and activities that occupational therapists might recommend.



For the child in school, it’s known that recess time helps with attention, sensory needs, motor development, learning skills, language, executive functioning, and so much more. In fact, research about outdoor play tells us a lot about development in kids! 


The activities below are just some ways to encourage sensory input through outdoor recess. The fact is that plain old outdoor play will expand a child’s developmental needs and provide the kind of sensory input that kids need to learn and grow. 


But sometimes, a child who has a need for a specific sensory diet will benefit from a prescribed list of sensory diet activities. And using the playground at the school is a great way to do this! 


We’ve talked about sensory integration on the playground before and also sensory diet activities that can be used on a playground or park setting. 


But the sensory diet activities listed below are those that can be combined with other outdoor sensory diet activities and completed on a blacktop surface or a schoolyard setting. 


Outdoor Recess Sensory Diet Activities



These outdoor recess sensory diet activities can be used at a recess setting or within a sensory diet that allows for an outdoor movement break. 


Using the natural setting of the playground is perfect for allowing a student to use the setting within the school to get the sensory input he or she needs. 

The Outdoor Recess Sensory Diet Cards are activities that can be done with little or no special equipment, making carryover easier.


The outdoor sensory diet activities below are GAMES and PLAY that kids naturally love! That means other students can participate in activities that come natural to recess time…while providing the much needed sensory diet activity that is necessary for meeting sensory needs of specific students. 


These activities are part of our Outdoor Sensory Diet Cards packet. It’s a FREE resource that uses natural and therapeutic play activities that can be done in the great outdoors. 


The Outdoor Sensory Diet Cards packet includes sensory diet cards that meet a variety of needs and can be used for any child, based on specific needs. Therapists will love the variety of cards that can work for any child and can be adjusted to meet specific needs of clients. 


Part of the packet is outdoor recess sensory diet activiteis that come in card form for easy scheduling and recommendation of activities.


This is a free resource, available for download. Just click on the link below, enter your email, and download the file that is delivered to your inbox. 


If you use these sensory diet cards, share it with others! Share the link so others can download too. Be sure to catch a pic of your use of the cards and tag @theottoolbox on social media! 


Outdoor Recess Sensory Diet Activities

Teach the child to ask if they can push another child on the swing
Utilize playground equipment 
Walk or run on the perimietter of the playground area.
Bounce balls
Kickball
Stress ball in hand during playground play
Chewing tool for sensory overload
Running games
“I Spy” scavenger hunts for colors or shapes
Keychain fidget tool
Obstacle courses
Tug of war activities
Carry equiptment bins onto playgroung area and back in after recess
Organize one-on-one play with a buddy


The Outdoor Sensory Diet Cards printable packet includes A TON more ideas for outdoor sensory diet activities and outdoor recess sensory diet activities. 


In fact, there are 90 outdoor sensory diet activities, 60 outdoor recess sensory diet activities, 30 blank sensory diet cards, AND 6 sensory challenge cards.


They can be used based on preference and interest of the child, encouraging motivation and carryover, all while providing much-needed sensory input.


Free printable outdoor sensory diet activities that kids with sensory processing needs can use as part of a sensory diet while exploring and participating in challenges outside.



Get the Outdoor Sensory Diet Activity Cards HERE.

Use these outdoor recess sensory diet activities for kids who need sensory input throughout the school day or crave sensory activities. The sensory diet activities can be used in various settings in the school environment, providing sensory challenges and activities that occupational therapists might recommend.

Sensory diets and specific sensory input or sensory challenges are a big part of addressing sensory needs of children who struggle with sensory processing issues. Incorporating a schedule of sensory input (sensory diet) into a lifestyle of naturally occuring and meaningful activities is so very valuable for the child with sensory needs. 

That’s why I’ve worked to create a book on creating an authentic and meaningful sensory lifestyle that addresses sensory needs. The book is now released as a digital e-book or softcover print book, available on Amazon. 

The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook walks you through sensory diet creation, set-up, and carry through. Not only that, but the book helps you take a sensory diet and weave it into a sensory lifestyle that supports the needs of a child with sensory processing challenges and the whole family.

The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook is a resource for creating sensory diets and turning them into a lifestyle of sensory success through meaningful and motivating sensory enrichment.