Earth Day Inspired Sensory Diet

The 40th annual Earth Day celebration happens to be on April 22nd, and I say, given that this is Autism Awareness Month, and from what I hear Occupational Therapy Month as well, I thought I would put my own sensory-spin on it.

Namely, how to get sensory input with a little help from Mother Nature in your own backyard. Isn’t great to know there is another ‘mother’ out there helping your little seeker?

Here are some ideas on how you can use this beautiful planet of ours to incorporate more nature in your nurture.

Sun: I think that the sun might be under valued by all of you who see it daily -- like maybe those of you in Arizona or California, but it is longed for by those of us in Seattle!  That dose of natural Vitamin D puts all of us in a better mood. Make sure your kids (and you) get plenty by venturing outside each day –
  • Color with sidewalk chalk
  • Read on the porch
  • Have a picnic
  • Set up an 'art studio' outside and let your little ones take inspriation from nature
  • Lay in the grass
  • Look for 'cloud animals' (or other imaginary shapes)
  • Make sun-tea
  • Trace your shadow – or just try to catch it
  • Look for bugs in the grass
Land: You can find dozens of ways to add to yo

 ur sensory diet right in the dirt of you own backyard, most of which are excellent sources of proprioception. 

  • Dig

  • Make and play in the mud (you can do this in a sensory tub as well)

  • Plant a garden

  • Pull weeds

  • Push the wheelbarrow

  • Build with rocks

  • Build a sandcastle – in your sand box

  • Rake leaves -- if there are any ...
Air: Didn’t think about the wind did you? Here is how a windy spring day can be used to your advantage: 

  • Fly a kite (be creative and make it yourself, here’s how!)

  • Blow bubbles and catch them

  • Set up pinwheels all over the yard and watch them spin

  • Listen for wind chimes

  • Stand in the wind and feel your hair blow

  • Dance with a streamer

  • Wish on dandelions
Water: This is for sure my favorite – and the boys’ too! There are so many ways to use water, that I am sure you have thought of, but here's more! 

  • Child directed hose squirting – yes, let them spray whatever they want

  • Sprinkler play—hard to beat a simple sprinkler

  • Water guns (we use those with animal shapes)

  • Water balloons – nothing better than dropping them from the play structure

  • Buckets – fill buckets and let them carry them or dump them

  • Kiddie pool – do a float vs. sink experiment with their toys

  • Hot tub – we happen to have a hot tub, and we LOVE to play in it!

  • Slip N’ Slide

  • Build a dam (let the hose run, and try and stop it)
I have found that the sensory benfit to getting my kids outside is unmatched -- truly.  We spent the first really sunny day this spring, just last Sunday, outside playing ALL DAY. The boys dug, climbed and swam in the hot tub for hours. Then we went out front to continue the fun – bikes, cars, sidewalk chalk and more. Needless to say, they slept well.
Honor Earth Day this year by not just recycling or planting a tree – take it one step further – and use this time to show your children how being outside is a great way to get their sensory needs met!  Still need more ideas?  Check out this post.
Happy Earth Day!

Photo: While looking for different photos, I found this great photo of Gabe playing in the mud two or so years back.  Look at him!


a Tonggu Momma said...

Winter is always the hardest season for my girl because she doesn't cope well with being cold. I love it when the beautiful weather hits, the outdoor sensory experiences abound and life just plain gets easier.

Raina said...

Hartley, I love this. I'm linking from my blog! Wouldn't it be great if all kids got to spend some time outside daydreaming and experiencing their earth??