“What time is it? Summertime! School’s out, scream and shout”. If you or any of your pediatric buddies have ever watched Disney, then you know those classic lyrics from the franchise, High School Musical! Its summer, folks! Get ready for beach trips and eating lots of popsicles! Everybody wants to enjoy their summer vacation, so why not make occupational therapy activities for kids fun as well! We’ve listed a few summer activities, OT related of course, to get those kiddos using their senses! After you’ve tried all of our suggestions, let us know which one you and your colleagues liked best in the comments!
OT Activities for Kids
1. Start Getting Sandy
Alright fellow occupational therapists, this first activity might get a little messy! That being said, we highly recommend doing this one outside or on a LARGE table. This is a pretty easy activity that should entertain everyone for a while. All you will need is some glue, construction paper, and of course, sand. If you can’t find sand, glitter will also do! Guide the little one by telling them to put glue on the construction paper, in whatever shape or letter that they would like, and then pour that sand/glitter over the glue. Now you wait for that thing to dry… unless you’d rather see all of that sand on the floor throughout the place for the next few days! Once dried, tell them to touch their artwork. This will trigger their sensory since the sand texture on the construction paper is so unique! So, if you’re ever at the beach, collect some of that sand so that your little patient can become the next Picasso!
2. Treasure Hunt Fun
Everyone loves a good treasure hunt! With this season, it’s a wonderful time to be outside and play around in the fresh air! For this activity, you can place things in different parts of the child’s backyard or even their local park if you are traveling to their house to assess them. However, to make your life a bit simpler, you can make a list of things that are already found in nature such as a butterfly or a cloud. The most important part to this activity is including things on the list that have all of the senses involved! For example, tell them to look, or in this case, hear the chirping of baby birds! Another sensory example is the smell of a particular flower or even some freshly rained grass. It’s a great way to get that occupational therapy in while also having some fun under the sun!
3. Slimy Spaghetti Creepy Crawlers
We hope you aren’t too creeped out by bugs, or things that look like them! This next activity is a cool way to get young children involved in sensory activities. All you need is some spaghetti and some food coloring to make some pretty interesting creepy crawly things! Just cook the pasta, make sure that it is completely cooled down, and add food coloring. Orange, black and purple are good colors to make these look more realistic. Also, remember this idea for Halloween! Once you guys are done with the coloring, let the child explore the goopy concoctions. Just be warned, this activity is terrifyingly messy.
4. Take a Spritz
Now that we’re on the earthy role, let’s talk about plants and chores. Kids never want to do chores around the house, but there is a fun way to get them to help and cool down a bit. Get your office or garden plants ready because they are about to be refreshed! Using a simple spray bottle, fill it up with water and squirt away! While you’re at it, let the little one spray the plants too… and if you’re up for it, have a spraying competition! Not only will this keep you, your little one, and your plants hydrated, but it will also strengthen the muscles in your child’s hands! Plus, it teaches children how to take care of items. This is probably one of my favorite occupational therapy activities for kids since it gets some work done and is fun during those hot, humid days!
5. Watermelon Relay Race
Want to get fruity? All you need to put together an awesome and educational occupational therapy activity for kids is some watermelons and a passion for fun. Grab a group of kids in your patient’s neighborhood, classroom, park, or even do a group session at your office (whatever you prefer) and buy a couple of small watermelons that are different weights and sizes. Get those kiddos in line and have them stand in a row. Once the battle has begun, they should each try to get back to their team as fast as they possibly can. As they return to their team, they should be passing the watermelons up and down the line. Mix up this relay race by getting them to pass it through their legs or above their heads! It will help gross motor skills, motor control, development, strength, coordination, proprioception, and social skills! The best part about this activity, you can save the watermelons and use it to make smoothies, popsicles or eat it plain as is!
Penny for Your Thoughts
Hopefully we gave you some exciting, new ideas for future use! Out of all the occupational therapy activities for kids listed, which one do you find most interesting? Which one do you find messiest? How are you planning on using the watermelons? Have any other suggestions that are less messy or are more intriguing? Let us know by commenting below!