20 Summer FUN Ideas (OT Approved!)


SUMMER is here! Most families look forward to summer’s relaxation and lazy days. However, the lack of routine and structure can evoke great stress for families of children with special needs. School routines are predictable and provide consistency and the transition to summer may be a difficult one. In addition, the skills your child has gained in school should be carried over into the summer to stop any regression. No ideas? Feeling overwhelmed?

As I say in my books, here are some ‘Out of the POCKET OT Ideas’ for you: 


1) Try to keep a routine. Have a family meeting and look at the calendar together to make a routine. Include your child in choosing activities and even let him choose the color of the pen or marker that you’ll write with on the calendar. Post a list of daily schedules and chores with check-off boxes. Schedule new activities well ahead of time and be sure to prepare for them. 

2) Make a parade with homemade instruments. Visit our Music Fun Pinterest Board for ideas on how to make your own instruments out of paper plates, oat containers, and paper towel rolls. Marching to different rhythms is a fun way to receive proprioceptive input and body coordination.

3) Give your child a treasure hunt list with items such as a butterfly, cloud shaped like a certain animal, or sound of a certain bird’s chirp. This should be a multi-sensory treasure hunt involving eyes, ears, touch, and smell. Using sight, smell, and sound as well as fine motor makes an awesome scavenger hunt!

FREE printable…..A to Z Scavenger Hunt HERE

Read my earlier post with 5 Tips to Get Your Child OUTSIDE!

4) Schedule as many play dates as possible. Extended family and cousins may also be off of school and need to keep busy too. Play games together such as making up your own circus. Walk a taped line imitating a tightrope, learn to juggle, and pretend to walk like different animals in the circus. You can also pretend to make a zoo, jungle, or go on safari. Walking on all fours to imitate a bear, lion, tiger, dog, or any other animal is great for proprioceptive (heavy work) input.


5) Tape a line on the floor and ask kids to jump in different ways over it. For example, hop with your right foot on the left side of the line. Jump three times on the right side of the line. Use the line as a pretend balance beam.


6) Activities at dusk are fun too. Go on a flashlight scavenger hunt with your child. Use a flashlight to draw different letters and numbers on the ground. Use glow sticks to write letters in the air. Add glow stick liquid to bubbles and have a bubble-blowing competition.


7) Use sidewalk chalk on the concrete or on your trampoline. Ask your child to jump to the letter you call out.

8) Use SCOOTERS! Fun for all kids and work on coordination, strengthening or core, exercise fun!

9) Walk like a wheelbarrow in the grass. Hold your child’s ankles, knees, or thighs and ask him to “walk” on his hands. You can place different things such as bean bags or play tools onto his back to “transport” items like a real wheelbarrow does. This is an EXCELLENT activity to add into any sensory diet. It is filled with proprioceptive input/heavy work.


BORED Activity Cards

10) Try our BORED activity cards!  Color-coded by category.  Each printable PDF set includes 23 pages. Plus extra cards to enter your own activities. Print, laminate, cut, and place in folders or pockets in easy reach of your children. 


11) Use a spray bottle to spray plants. Squirting each other on a hot day is a fun way to cool down while building hand strength!


12) Painting with different items such as leaves, sticks, or cotton balls is fun. Adding tweezers to any task builds fine motor coordination. Instead of picking up cotton balls with his fingers, use tweezers!


13) If your child has difficulty catching a hard ball such as a baseball, use a beach ball that will move slower and is easier to catch. Playing mini-golf with plastic golf balls is a fun way to build skills without the danger of a real golf ball flying through the yard.


14) Make a book. Cut old magazines and paste pictures on to a book made of construction paper and bound with yarn. Write stories about the pictures or make your own. Even punching the holes (through which to bind the book) with the hole puncher is a great fine motor activity.

15) Make puppets out of old socks and felt. Put on a puppet show for friends or family.


BONUS!! Create a Sensory Calm-Down AREA.

16) Paint with sand! Draw with glue on construction paper. Shake sand or glitter on top of the glue to create textured pictures. This idea works great with letters! After the glue/sand is dry, trace the letters, pictures, or numbers with the index finger.


17) Plan snacks that relate to different books. Examples include Blue Berries for Sal, Stone Soup, and Bread and Jam for Frances.


18) Set up a store selling different summer items such as beach toys, summer fruits, and vegetables. Encourage your child to make signs for each item and practice making change when something is purchased.


19) Use old sheets and blankets to make tents. Go camping in your living room!

20) Finally, plant seeds and watch them grow. Move them from small pots or paper cups into a garden area. Chart their growth in a notebook. Encourage your child to help you with the responsibilities of watering her garden and re-potting when necessary. Caring for something such as a plant can empower a child.


Make sure to read a great book together. Don’t forget about reading and recommending The Parent’s Guide to Occupational Therapy for Autism and Special Needs.

Most of all, HAVE FUN together! You never know when you are making a memory that your child will have for the rest of his life!


Retained Reflexes Course – Brain & Sensory Foundations

Do you worry that you could be missing something in your approach to therapy? Do you wish you could have a bigger impact in a shorter amount of time? Do you want a step-by-step system that is tested, proven, and supported by evidence?

Cara’s Bestselling Book

Many people struggle with sensory processing difficulties. Regulating emotions, knowing when to eat, drink, go to the toilet, and feeling your breathing and heart rate all depend on our internal awareness.

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