Summer is the perfect opportunity for children to engage in sensory activities that stimulate their creativity and encourage exploration. As parents, we all want to see our little ones grow and benefit from new experiences. That’s why we’ve put together a list of unique and exciting sensory garden activities that are sure to keep your kids engaged and having fun all summer long! These summer sensory ideas for toddlers should only require bits you have around or even just your garden.
We discuss Sensory activities a lot, mostly in a school context. Sensory play is a great way for toddlers and young children to learn and explore. From the sweet taste of fresh strawberries to the satisfying feeling of squishing rice between their fingers. Whether it’s using different materials like paint or sand, or playing with water in a tough tray, there are so many opportunities for kids to have fun while learning new things.
It encourages creativity and stimulates the senses in ways that other types of play might not. Plus, setting up a sensory play idea doesn’t need to be super complicated. A simple toy or item like a ball or a textured hand-held material can be enough to get started. And as well as being a great learning opportunity, sensory experiences can also be soothing and relaxing – something we all could benefit from during these challenging times.
So why not take advantage of this special time and treasure the awesome moments you’ll create with your little ones? You never know what exciting new ideas may come to mind. The benefits of engaging in stimulating, creative play will help them grow bigger and better than ever before. So let your child’s imagination run wild and start exploring today! You might also be interested in our Age Gap Kids activities post.
14 Free Outdoor Summer Sensory Activities
Sensory activities provide children with a chance to drop their screens and truly immerse themselves in the world around them. These activities can also offer big benefits, such as stimulating their senses and helping to develop their motor skills. Plus, they’re free and easy to do at home! So let’s show our kids the awesome treasure trove that is the sensory garden or just the plain old outdoors and let them play.
- Water Play: Fill a tub or water table with water and various toys, cups, and sponges. Encourage children to pour, splash, and explore. This activity promotes fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and cognitive development by introducing concepts like volume, weight, and cause-and-effect relationships.
- Water Painting: Pretty much an extension of the above. A few old paintbrushes and a fence or paving. Just mark making with water as your paint.
- Water Squirter Fire Extinguisher: Whilst we are on water chalk or poster paint some flames on the floor, fence or outdoor wall and “put them out”.
- Nature Collage: Collect leaves, sticks, and other natural materials during a walk. Have children arrange these materials into a collage, gluing them onto a large piece of paper. If you haven’t got glue or paper arrange them in a pattern on the ground. This activity enhances creativity, fine motor skills, and encourages children to explore and appreciate nature.
- Stone Collage: A great free activity for a pebble beach. Sort the pebbles by colour or size and make a mosaic or patterns with them.
- Sensory Bins: Create a sensory bin by filling a large container with materials like sand, rice, dried beans, or shredded paper. Add toys and tools for scooping, digging, and pouring. Sensory bins engage multiple senses, helping children develop sensory processing skills, fine motor skills, and imaginative play.
- Outdoor Painting: Set up a large paper or canvas outside and provide non-toxic, washable paint. Encourage children to paint using their hands, feet, and objects found in nature. Outdoor painting fosters creativity, self-expression, and gross motor skills.
- Bubble Play: Provide children with bubble solution and various bubble wands. Blowing bubbles can help develop oral motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and an understanding of cause-and-effect relationships.
- Ice Exploration: Freeze small toys or natural objects in ice cube trays or large containers. Allow children to explore the ice and find ways to release the objects using warm water and tools. This activity encourages problem-solving, scientific inquiry, and fine motor skills.
- Shadow Play: On a sunny day, use objects or materials to create shadows on the ground or a wall. Have children explore and manipulate the shadows by moving the objects or their own bodies. Shadow play can help develop spatial awareness, creativity, and an understanding of light and shadow.
- Texture Walk: Create a path with different textured materials, such as grass, sand, gravel, and water. Have children walk barefoot along the path, discussing the different sensations they experience. This activity supports sensory processing, body awareness, and vocabulary development.
- Garden Exploration: Plant a small garden or explore an existing one, encouraging children to touch, smell, and observe the plants. Gardening can help develop fine motor skills, an appreciation for nature, and an understanding of plant life cycles.
- Homemade Playdough: Make a batch of homemade playdough using simple ingredients like flour, salt, and water. Provide tools for rolling, cutting, and shaping the dough. Playing with playdough promotes fine motor skills, creativity, and hand strength.
- Home Made River: I’ve looped back round to water but I found this image (excuse the shadows) of a little activity we did making a river from tin foil. So not free but pretty cheap.