The outdoors is a goldmine for play! Kids can be creative, build healthy bodies, and develop the skills that they NEED through playing outdoors. For the child who requires a sensory diet, the outdoors is a goldmine for acquiring the right kind of sensory input. The activities below are those sensory diet activities that can be accomplished through play at the playground. Also check out our resource on playground therapy.
Even a sensory diet for adults can include a walk in the park as a movement and sensory break!
A while back, we shared information about sensory processing at the playground and sensory input that can be provided at the playground. Today, we wanted to share a few quick lists for sensory diet activities that can be implemented at an outdoor (or indoor) playground or play area.
These are sensory diet activities that an occupational therapist can prescribe based on evaluation of a child’s specific sensory needs. Use the playground sensory diet activities listed below as part of a list of specific activities and sensory tools that meet certain sensory processing needs or a home program for children with sensory processing challenges.
There is a lot of research on playing outdoors and about the benefits of just playing outside!
Playground Sensory Diet Activities
Climb the slide
Swing on the swings (side to side, forward-back, twist, superman fly, or even upside down!)
Go down the slide (forward, backwards, on belly, on back)
Roll a ball up the slide and catch it before it hits the cround
Sound tubes and equipment
Teeter totters or bouncy equipment
Merry go rounds or spinning equipment
Playground scavenger hunt
Tunnels (Crawl through, army crawl through)
Playground “I Spy”
Bouncing a ball against a wall
Textured sensory scavenger hunt
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.