Outdoor Sensory Activities: Vestibular Sense

This collection of outdoor sensory activities focus on the vestibular sense. Today, I’ve got another post in the Backyard Sensory Summer series that have here on the website. This series of summer activity ideas are perfect for challenging kids to get outdoors and play. The backyard sensory ideas can be used as part of a sensory diet at home, or as individual summer activities. Today, we are talking about vestibular sensory activities for summer. Grab the kids, the family, or a favorite stuffed animal toy. Here are summer ideas for kids that incorporate the vestibular sense and are perfect for the backyard.

Summer vestibular activities for kids

If you are looking for information on how to create a sensory diet and use these movement activities with kids, then you are in the right place. Here are more outdoor sensory diet activities to get you started with sensory needs and the outdoors.

If you’ve been following this summer activity series, then you know that I’ve been sharing sensory activities that can be done right in the backyard.  In most cases, these sensory play ideas use toys and materials that you probably already own.  Most importantly, these sensory ideas are perfect for getting the kids outdoors and playing in the backyard while meeting sensory needs.  They are easy (and fun) ideas that can be added to a child’s sensory diet this summer and every day.  Take these ideas and sensory play ideas right into Fall and all season long with backyard sensory play!

These ideas would be a great addition to all of our summer occupational therapy activities here on The OT Toolbox! 

Summer Activities for Kids

You’ll find ideas to use in virtual therapy sessions and to send home as home activities that build skills and power development with a fun, summer theme. Kids will love the Summer Spot It! game, the puzzles, handouts, and movement activities. Therapists will love the teletherapy slide deck and the easy, ready-to-go activities to slot into OT sessions.

Try these backyard vestibular sensory activities for summer


Swing painting-  Grab some paint brushes and create art while providing vestibular sensory input in a calming back and forth motion in the swing. Read more about that here. (Idea from Homegrown Friends.

Slip and Slide Relay Race- Set up a slip and slide and use a timer to time kids as they race down the slide.  Children can sit on their bottom, lay on their belly, or slide on their back for variations in positioning.

Slide on cardboard-  Grab a cardboard box or even cereal box.  Open it up using a sharp knife or scissors to create a large piece of cardboard. Kids can use the cardboard to slide down slopes.  Try various positions on the cardboard.  An alternative to this activity is using a cardboard box to create a “car” like we did here.

Picnic Blanket Roll-  Use a large blanket or comforter as a picnic blanket.  Spread it out on the grass and ask your child to lay on the blanket.  Roll them up in the blanket to add a calming proprioceptive component with deep pressure. Roll the child in a log-roll fashion while they are wrapped up in the blanket.  Then, why not use the blanket for a real picnic?

Roll down hills- Find a hill in the backyard and start rolling!

Spin in circles- This is a great activity with a family member or even a stuffed animal. Hold hands and spin. Try spinning fast, slow, to music, or even in the sprinkler.

Swing side to side on a swing set- Playing on the swings doesn’t need to look like the regular back and forth. Try swinging side to side. Ask the child to sit sideways and straddle the swing.

Hang upside down from swing set equipment- What are some other movement-based ways to play and challenge motor skills using the play equipment you already have? Climb up the slide. Swing on the belly. Create an obstacle course or play “the ground is lava”. The options are limitless.

Swing on a hammock- do you have a hammock? This inexpensive lawn item can be used in calming or facilitating side to side movements, rocking, a log roll swing, laying in prone or supine, or back and forth swinging.

Backyard dance party- Encourage lots of whole body movements and spinning. Use fast or slow movement to facilitate alerting or calming movements. Try adding a copy dance, or freeze dance play. Get the whole family involved.

Cartwheels- Tumbling or cartwheels in the lawn is a fun way to add movement right in the backyard.

Tumbles- If cartwheels are too tricky, try tumbles.

Hopscotch- Add this movement and motor planning game to the backyard. Use sidewalk chalk to draw a hopscotch board on the sidewalk or driveway. This is such a great core stability and strengthening activity for building confidence and coordination. There are options to upgrade or downgrade this activity. Use more or less hop spaces, or make them bigger or smaller.

Play Leap frog- This classic game is a great one for building gross motor skills, motor planning, core stability, visual convergence, and more with a movement based forward motion.

Mini trampoline (or the big sized-trampoline)- If adding a sensory tool to your backyard is priority, then a mini trampoline is an easy and affordable option. Kids can sit or stand to hop or bounce. Try adding other toys to make the sensory play interesting. Add water balloons, chalk, a sprinkler, or make a cozy resting place to calm down.

Add these resources to the ones you can find here under sensory diet vestibular activities to meet the sensory needs of all kids. 

Vestibular Sensory Backyard Activities

Looking for more ideas for summer?  

Take summer play and skill building to the next level? Be sure to grab your copy of the Summer OT Activities Bundle!

Be sure to check out these other movement and sensory activities for the backyard. They are great to challenge kids in movement all summer long:

Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

outdoor sensory activities using the vestibular sense

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