If you have been following my posts, you’ll notice that most of them have been called “Sensational Craft.” Crafts are a great way to provide sensory input, but you don’t always need to gather supplies and create something in order to have a meaningful sensory experience. It’s summer, and the great outdoors provides a vast amount of sensory experiences without needed extra equipment or supplies. With a little intention, you can create an even more powerful sensory experience in your day-to-day activities, as you talk about the different experiences you have.

Water Play

Summer water play can happen in a variety of ways. It can be in a swimming pool, running through a sprinkler, playing with water in a small sensory table or even in the bathtub! Here are different ways you can activate your senses:

  • Touch: Feel the water as it touches your body. Is it hot or cold? If you are using a sprinkler, how does the water feel as it hits your body? Does it make a difference if you are standing right by the sprinkler or further away? I bet you are barefoot. What different surfaces are you walking on? Grass, cement, bathroom tiles, etc. When you are all done playing and have to dry off, rubbing the towel all over your body will give you an even different sensation.
  • Smell: If you are in a swimming pool, you probably smell chlorine. If you are outside, can you smell different flowers or trees? In a bathtub, smell your soaps and shampoos.
  • Sight: Look around at all the colors you see. Can you name shapes that are around you? Try counting the people that you see.
  • Hearing: What does the water sound like as you splash around? Do you hear other people playing in the water? If you are outside, listen to the sounds of different animals: birds chirping, dogs barking, etc. Do you hear cars and trucks driving around? You might hear some sounds of construction nearby as well.
  • Taste: You probably shouldn’t try to taste the water in a pool, but sometimes you can’t help it if you are splashing around. What does it taste like?
  • Proprioceptive/Deep Pressure: If you are submerged in water, you are receiving great pressure into your muscles and joints. If you jump into a pool, the splash into the water will provide great deep pressure.
  • Kinesthetic/Movement: Water play provides lots of movement opportunities: water slides, jumping off a diving board, jumping into the pool, swimming in different directions.
Book Recommendation

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He’s finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and he’s a great jumper, so he’s not scared at all. “Looks easy,” says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back. He needs to figure out what kind of special jump to do anyway, and he should probably do some stretches before climbing up onto the diving board.

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Going for a Walk

Going for a walk or hike is great exercise and a great way to get some fresh air. As you walk, think about the different sensory experiences you are having:

  • Touch: What kinds of things can you touch? Leaves that have fallen, grass under your feet, the rough bark of trees. Just be careful if you are walking in the woods. Some plants are poisonous and can cause a very unpleasant sensory experience that may last a long time!
  • Smell: There are so many smells outside. Many flowers are blooming. Road construction can create unpleasant smells as you walk by. I love the smell of outside just after it rains.
  • Sight: Look around at all the colors you see. Can you name shapes that are around you? Try counting the people that you see. Name any animals.
  • Hearing: Listen for different animals: birds chirping, dogs barking. You might hear other people who are also outside playing or working. Are there cars nearby?
  • Proprioceptive/Deep Pressure: Walking provides great input into the muscles and joints in your legs. As you walk, change it up a bit. You can try running, hopping, crawling, etc.
  • Kinesthetic/Movement: Walking provides great movement. What if you spin around a few times? Make sure you spin in both directions.
Book Recommendation

I Took a Walk by Henry Cole

A visit to woods, pasture, and the pond brings encounters with various birds, insects and other creatures of nature. Flaps fold out to reveal the animals on each two-page spread.

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Playing at the Playground

Playgrounds are so much fun and a great way to release some energy and get tired out! Talk about the different sensations you feel as you play:

  • Touch: Playgrounds provide lots of surfaces to touch. Equipment might be metal, wood, foam, plastic, etc. How do they feel different? I bet they are pretty hot if they aren’t in the shade, so be careful!
  • Smell: What do you smell at the playground? Are there flowers or trees around? If there is a pond nearby, that might have different smells as well.
  • Sight: Look around at all the colors you see. Can you name shapes that are around you? Watch the other people as they move around the playground equipment.
  • Hearing: I bet you’ll hear lots of laughter and shouting. You might be laughing and shouting yourself!
  • Taste: Maybe you brought some snacks to eat while you are playing. What do they taste like?
  • Proprioceptive/Deep Pressure: Climbing and jumping provide great sensory input into your arms and legs.
  • Kinesthetic/Movement: There are so many movement opportunities at the playground. Climbing up, sliding down, swinging, spinning, hanging upside down, etc.
Book Recommendation

At the Park: A Mr. and Mrs. Green Adventure by Keith Baker

Mr. and Mrs. Green are in for a wonderful day at the park, but they can’t agree on the most fun thing to do there!

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Going to the Zoo

Who doesn’t love going to the zoo? There is so much to experience at the zoo:

  • Touch: If you go to the children’s zoo area, you can pet lots of different animals. What do they feel like? Many exhibits have hands-on activities so you can feel different textures.
  • Smell: Zoos have lots of different smells. Each animal has its own smell. Some smells are stronger than others. Many zoos have food carts throughout the zoo. Can you tell what kind of food they have by their smell?
  • Sight: Look around at all the colors you see. Can you name shapes that are around you? Describe the different habitats that you see. Talk about the differences and similarities of the animals. Some have spots, some have stripes, some have many different colors. There are so many different things to see.
  • Hearing: So many different animals each with their own sounds. Can you describe the animal calls? Is it loud or quiet? Is it high or low pitched? Can you close your eyes and identify the animal based on the sound?
  • Taste: What are you eating when you go to the zoo? Did you bring your own snacks or buy from the food carts? Is your food salty or sweet? Crunchy or chewy?
  • Proprioceptive/Deep Pressure: Walking provides input into the muscles and joints in your feet and legs. Some zoos have playgrounds where you can get even more deep pressure input.
  • Kinesthetic/Movement: Walking throughout the zoo provides lots of movement. Some zoos have playgrounds where you can get even more kinds of movement.
Book Recommendation

Going to the Zoo by Tom Paxton

Enthusiastic siblings describe the animals at the “zoozoozoo. Daddy’s taking us to the zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow. Daddy’s taking us to the zoo tomorrow. We can stay all day. ” Now you can go along too, as Tom Paxton’s classic song comes to life in this boisterous picture book

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As you can see, you don’t need to go through elaborate planning to create a meaningful sensory experience. As you go through your day, talk about the different things you touch, smell, see, hear and taste. Bringing attention to the different senses helps you become more mindful of yourself and your environment. It also provides a rich literacy experience as you name, identify and discuss the different things you encounter. And of course, you have the time together creating memories.

Don’t forget to give yourself points towards your Summer Adventure for completing any of these activities! Points can be added through Saturday, July 31.