Summer Activity List to Complement Occupational Therapy For Children


Summer offers an exceptional opportunity for children to engage in fun and developmentally beneficial activities that complement their occupational therapy goals. Occupational therapy focuses on helping children with various needs improve their cognitive, physical, and motor skills, and summertime activities can be designed to support this therapy in an enjoyable way. Integrating play into daily routines not only keeps children entertained but also fosters necessary skill development crucial for their growth.

The warm weather and extended daylight hours provide the perfect backdrop for incorporating occupational therapy activities at home that promote sensory integration and self-regulation. These at-home occupational therapy activities help children process sensory information more effectively and manage their emotions and behaviors in response to that sensory input. Engaging in outdoor play, for instance, can boost a child’s gross motor skills, while arts and crafts may enhance fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination. Keep in mind, though, that this information is for informational purposes only. It is recommended to see a medical specialist for professional advice. 

Key Takeaways

  • Summer activities enhance occupational therapy goals for children.
  • Outdoor play and crafts support motor skills and sensory processing.
  • Sensory integration through play aids in emotional and behavioral self-regulation.

Developing Motor Skills Through Play

Developing motor skills in children is crucial for their ability to carry out daily activities with ease. Through play, children can enhance both fine and gross motor skills, which are integral to their overall development and regulation.

Fine Motor Skill Enhancement

Fine motor skills involve the coordination of small muscles in movements—usually involving the synchronization of hands and fingers—with the eyes. The intricate use of fine motor skills is essential for a child’s development in tasks such as writing, drawing, and cutting with scissors.

  • Motor Planning and Chalk: Utilizing sidewalk chalk encourages motor planning as children figure out how to create shapes and letters, effectively enhancing their writing skills.
  • Finger Painting: This activity not only stimulates creativity but also improves finger and hand strength. As children spread the paint with their fingers, they develop finer motor control.
  • Scissor Skills: Cutting shapes out of paper supports bilateral coordination and strengthens hand muscles, which are critical aspects of fine motor development.

Gross Motor Skill Development

Gross motor skills involve the larger muscles of the body that enable functions such as walking, jumping, and balance. These are foundational movements that affect a child’s energy levels and regulation.

  • Jump Rope: Jumping rope is an excellent way to improve balancing skills and coordination. It requires the child to time their jumps and develop rhythm which is crucial for bilateral coordination.
  • Swim: Swimming serves multiple developmental benefits, including motor planning and muscle strengthening. It is also a regulatory activity as the water provides sensory feedback that can be calming.
  • Obstacle Course: Setting up an obstacle course with activities such as balancing on a beam or crawling under objects fosters gross motor development and can be a fun way for children to learn motor skills through play.

Sensory Integration and Self-Regulation

Sensory integration is crucial for helping children develop self-regulation skills. Summer activities offer varied opportunities for tactile, proprioceptive, and vestibular input through engaging and fun experiences that can enhance both calmness and executive functioning.

Calming Sensory Activities

Calming sensory activities are designed to reduce overstimulation and help children regulate their emotional and physiological states. Natural environments provide a serene setting where children can engage in activities that promote a sense of tranquility and control:

  • Nature Walks: Exploring trails and gently touching leaves and flowers provides tactile input and helps with sensory processing.
  • Listening to Outdoor Sounds: Attention to the sounds of nature, like birds chirping or water flowing, facilitates auditory sensory processing.
  • Gardening: Handling soil and plants offers calming proprioceptive input and a connection with nature.

Crafts like making wind chimes incorporate both the calming effect of creating with one’s hands and the soothing sounds they produce when hung in a summer breeze.

Creative and Social Skill Building

Creative activities and social skill development are integral parts of summer activities that complement occupational therapy:

  • Flower Crafts: Children create using petals and leaves, practicing fine motor skills and experiencing the textures of different plants.
  • Drawing with Chalk: Children can use stencils or free draw on sidewalks, encouraging creative expression and practicing motor skills.
  • Hand Clapping Games: These engage social skills, and coordination, and provide a combination of tactile, proprioceptive, and vestibular input.

Social interactions through games bolster executive functioning and self-regulation as children navigate taking turns and following rules.


Incorporating purposeful summer activities into a child’s routine can significantly support and enhance the objectives of occupational therapy. These activities have been demonstrated to not only maintain but also further developmental skills essential for a child’s growth. They ensure continued progress in an enjoyable, less structured setting outside of traditional therapy sessions, thereby reinforcing gains in motor, sensory, and cognitive functions. Families can take these recommendations to create a summer filled with engaging and therapeutic play.

About Author

LaDonna Dennis

LaDonna Dennis is the founder and creator of Mom Blog Society. She wears many hats. She is a Homemaker*Blogger*Crafter*Reader*Pinner*Friend*Animal Lover* Former writer of Frost Illustrated and, Cancer...SURVIVOR! LaDonna is happily married to the love of her life, the mother of 3 grown children and "Grams" to 3 grandchildren. She adores animals and has four furbabies: Makia ( a German Shepherd, whose mission in life is to be her attached to her hip) and Hachie, (an OCD Alaskan Malamute, and Akia (An Alaskan Malamute) who is just sweet as can be. And Sassy, a four-month-old German Shepherd who has quickly stolen her heart and become the most precious fur baby of all times. Aside from the humans in her life, LaDonna's fur babies are her world.

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