We’ve been talking a lot about sensory diets here on The OT Toolbox recently. Understanding what a sensory diet is and how it can be used within a sensory lifestyle is a big part of integrating sensory activities and sensory play into needed sensory input that a child needs to self-regulation, cope with his or her environment, and to attend or focus despite sensory overload or distractions. You’ll find more outdoor sensory diet activities like these outdoor sensory diet activities for the backyard coming to the site very soon!
Sensory diet activities can be specific to sensory system like these vestibular sensory diet activities. Sensory activities can be prescribed according to need along with environment in order to maximize sensory input within a child’s day such as within the school day. Using authentic sensory input within the child’s environment plays into the whole child that we must understand when focusing on any goal toward improved functional independence. The sensory diet activities listed below include outdoor sensory diet activities that can naturally be found outdoors!
It’s a fact that 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…kids just get less natural play in the outdoors. Some therapists have connected the dots between less outdoor play and increased sensory struggles and attention difficulties in learning. Knowing this, it can be powerful to have a list of outdoor sensory diet activities that can be recommended as therapy home programing and family activities that meet underlying needs.
Outdoor Sensory Diet Activities
Use these activities to incorporate play naturally while meeting underlying needs in the great outdoors!
Outdoor Sensory Diet Activities
Play in the woods
Roll down hills
Balance beam on logs
Play at the beach
Play in the backyard
Climb on stumps
Jump in puddles
Driveway or pavement play activities
Swing on tree vines
Sensory play on a porch or enclosed space
Move and cary rocks of various sizes
Hide and seek
Create with nature
Outdoor water play
Build with rocks, stumps, sticks, small logs
Mix and create nature soup (mud, sticks, flower petals, grass clippings)
When therapists develop a specific and highly individualized sensory diet, it’s not just throwing together a day filled with sensory input. It’s activities based on sensory need and strategizing. Each of the sensory diet activities above should meet specific needs of the child.
Imagine a world with more creative outdoor play that involves a variety of enriching sensory input. The proprioceptive input from running and jumping into puddles can calm the child who is typically overactive. The vestibular benefits of slowing swaying side to side on a tree vine can organize the child who is challenged by sensory overload.
The outdoor world is full of sensory input that can meet individual needs of every child. The kids with sensory needs as well as those who present as neurotypical will benefit from a lifestyle of sensory play and experiences in the outdoors. Over the next few days, we will be sharing specific outdoor sensory diet activities that can benefit children of all ages. As always, these activities should be looked over and utilized along with assessment and intervention of an occupational therapist, as each child differs so very vastly.
Some of the ideas above are going to be described in more detail here on The OT Toolbox. Watch this space for more outdoor sensory play ideas based on the following outdoor play spaces:
Backyard Lawn Sensory Diet Activities
Driveway/Pavement Sensory Diet Activities
Wooded Areas Sensory Diet Activities (Perfect for a camping trip or playing in the woods at home or at a park!)
Playground Sensory Diet Activities
Beach Sensory Diet Activities (Perfect for a family vacation to the beach or for those who live near a beach area!)
Enclosed Area/Porch Sensory Diet Activities