Tactile Sensory Play Ideas: The Great Outdoors

Child's handsAs an occupational therapist I do a lot of sensory-based tactile play at my work, because it has many benefits for the development of children of all ages (builds motor, visual, sensory, and cognitive skills).  At home, I try to allow my children opportunities to engage in sensory play to allow them to develop their sensory processing skills and build creative, flexible, and higher-level thinking skills.  This means that my children are often messy, clothes are stained, and my floors are dirty, but it is worth it!

I’ve looked online for “sensory play” ideas, and I found most of the suggestions overwhelming and impractical.  Children need the opportunity to engage in tactile play, but it should occur within their normal routines and environments.  This series of posts is just of photos that try to capture the ways that tactile play can occur with minimal effort.  The biggest effort is just allowing your children to explore and be messy and love it (and taking adorable photos).

 Tactile play in the great outdoors:

  • Get outside!  Children should get outside every day that it is possible.  Every season, every weather.  Experience the rain, the wind, the snow, and the sun.  It may be a quick walk to the mail box or a long walk in the woods- but get outside!
  • Let children get messy, let them explore.  Dirt doesn’t hurt kids!  Be brave- touch the worms, squish toes in the mud, and lay in the leaf pile with your children.
  • You will be amazed how little it takes to keep a child entertained- a piece of straw, a blade of grass, a colored leaf, or a stick in the mud.

See other posts in this series:

Paige Hays is an occupational therapist who provides in-home, pediatric occupational therapy services in the south metro area of the Twin Cities, MN. She is a mother of 2 girls, avid DIYer, and a highly skilled and experienced OT. She specializes in working in pediatrics, with diverse expertise ranging from cognition and sensory issues to working with children with neuromuscular disabilities or complex medical needs.