So often, kids are sent home from therapy with a sensory diet of specific activities and sensory tools that are prescribed for certain sensory processing needs. When a therapist creates a home exercise program, they do their best to ensure carryover through small lists of activities, parent education, and
motivating activities that are based on the child’s interests and personal goals.
If you are looking for more outdoor sensory diet activities that can be used in the backyard or as part of a home program, these occupational therapy activities will be a huge help!
We’ve all seen home programs that are just not used at home! Between all of the things that need doing in the home, it is hard to do that one extra task that is a home exercise program…even when it’s a sensory diet strategy that can help everything else.
So, using sensory diet tools within the context of environments or activities that are deeply meaningful to a family and child such as play that is already happening, can be the meaningful and motivating strategy to actually get that sensory diet task completed. And it benefits the child along with the whole family.
These sensory diet activities are those that can be included into backyard play. That may look like independent play by the child or it might mean family time on a Sunday afternoon. Use these outdoor sensory diet activities in the backyard to as sensory tools that double as playtime for the child while he/she learns and grows… or to meet the sensory needs of the child while creating memories and enjoying time together!
Disclaimer: When therapists develop a specific and highly individualized sensory diet, it’s not just throwing together a day filled with sensory input. A sensory diet is a specific set of sensory tools used to meet and address certain needs of the individual based on sensory need and strategizing. Each of the sensory diet activities above should meet specific needs of the child. Every child is different so applying sensory input to one child may look very different than that of another. Parents should use the tactics below along with your child’s occupational therapist.
Bakyard Sensory Diet Activities
Slide down a hill on cardboard
Grass sensory bin
Use a magnifying glass to inspect the grass and dirt
Roll down hills
Animal walks with barefeet
Create nature “soup” with grass, flower petals, sticks, etc.
Cartwheels and tumbling on the grass (barefoot or with shoes!)
Water Table with nature
Cartwheel or tumbling
Bean bag games
Hide and seek games
Simon Says games
Kazoo sound hunt
Listening for birds or animals
Record backyard sounds and playback the recording. Try to recognize and name the sound and where it was located in the yard.
Fill containers with items from the backyard. Shake plastic containers or even paper bags with the items and see if your child can name the objects.
Play Marco Polo in the yard!
Backyard Sensory Diet Equipment
Make a bin of outdoor toys that are readily available in your garage or storage area so that sensory play experiences are at your family’s fingertips.
Baby Swimming Pool
Tarp or Slip and Slide
Scoops and cups
Target or net