Play Your Way Through This Summer!

Summertime is just around the corner! And although I know we all are excited about some fun in the sun, I also know that the summer can sometimes be a stressful time for parents and guardians. With so much new unstructured time, adjusting to a new schedule, and new daily expectations, the summer is often a transitional time for many households. Luckily, summertime is a wonderful time to focus on your child’s most important “occupation” – play! Many families find it helpful to have a list of different play activities on hand that are simple and effective in keeping kiddos busy and engaged during those long summer days. Here are some fun ideas for the whole family!

  • Gross Motor Play – I love using scavenger hunts and obstacle courses to focus on many different fine motor, gross motor, and speech skills in a way that is fun and engaging for kids. Having them crawl, jump, spin, climb, and search is a great way to work on underlying foundational skills while disguising it as play! One of my favorite things about scavenger hunts and obstacle courses is that they can be done anywhere at any time! In the yard, in the hallway, on the beach, at the park – the more elements of movement, the better! And after you create a scavenger hunt or obstacle course for your child, challenge them to make one for you to complete and watch their creativity go wild!


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  • Sensory Play- One of my favorite things about summer and warmer weather is the natural opportunities presented for sensory play. Sensory processing is our ability to take in a variety of sensory information (i.e., touch, sound, sight, movement, and our sense of knowing where our body is in space) from the environment, make sense of it, and then act appropriately based on that information. When children are exposed to these different sensory elements, their bodies have more opportunities to process different sensory experiences. Some fun summer sensory play opportunities include building a sandcastle at the beach, washing the car, playing leapfrog in the grass, or making your own DIY Playdoh. If your child is working on handwriting skills, this is also a great way to practice! Have your kiddo draw their letters in shaving cream on the table, or in the dirt outside with a stick, or even on the sidewalk with some chalk. The sensory possibilities really are endless during the summertime!

 

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  • Fine Motor Play- Throughout the school year, your child has been working hard to build upon their fine motor skills! It is important to provide opportunities to foster their growth through the summertime, but it doesn’t necessarily need to involve a pencil or scissors! Functional fine motor play opportunities are all around us- especially at home. Using kitchen tongs to pick up and sort objects like cotton balls, coins, or Legos is a great way to build hand strength. Another fun way to build strength when the weather is hot is to play with spray bottles! Drawing a picture in chalk on a fence or a sidewalk and having your child use a spray bottle full of water to erase the picture is a great way to build hand strength while also including some fun water play! Other ideas for at-home fine motor activities include stacking cups into towers, stringing beads, using a hole punch, and finding toys hidden inside of playdoh.

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As you can see, there are plenty of ways that you can work to support your child’s skills this summer through play in your everyday activities. I hope that this list helps to inspire both you and your child to get out this summer and PLAY together. 😊

 

Author: Melissa Hewel, MS, OTR/L

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