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OLDER POSTS
 
Children with attention or behavior difficulties can flounder when they are out in the community.  There are so many unknowns when a child steps out of his front door and into an unpredictable environment that is the community.

A child has typical routines in his home or classroom.  He has predictable and familiar habits in the car or school bus.  But, when it is time to move to unfamiliar locations in his community, it can overwhelm the child with attention or behavior problems.  
Attention and behavior problems in kids and tips and strategies to help them become more independent and safe in the community.

If you've been following along on the blog this month, then you know that I've been sharing a backyard summer sensory series.  You can find oral sensory processing ideas, tactile sensory processing activities,  and proprioception sensory activities to add creative backyard play ideas into sensory diets and sensory lifestyles.  

Auditory processing sensory ideas for backyard summer sensory play, perfect for sensory diet ideas for kids.
Touching toes on the grass can make some kiddos squirm.  The sandbox brings on a mini world of sensory defensiveness when grains of sand stick to skin.  For the child with a hypersensitivity to touch, the backyard can be overwhelming. Other kids seek out tactile sensations and need to touch everything.  Still others find comfort in certain sensations but other textures bring on the tantrums or withdrawal.

There are ways to introduce tactile sensations in the backyard in a controlled way.  Incorporate these with tactile sensory input to involve the whole body into sensory play.  Try adding backyard proprioception input or backyard oral sensory processing activities.  These are super easy ways to play with the senses with items you probably already have in or around the home.

Tactile sensory input in backyard play ideas for kids, perfect for summer and all year with outdoor sensory play at home.
Tangrams are a fun and easy way to work on visual perception and visual motor integration skills through play.  These sponge tangrams are a quick DIY activity that kids will love.  The whole project will cost you $1, making it a creative and frugal way to play while sneaking in therapeutic and developmental skills.  

Tangram activities have a component that builds skills needed for handwriting so this activity is a fun one for working on written work through play. 

There are many ways to use tangrams to help with handwriting, and these sponge tangrams can definitely be used in those activities.  Try adding them to a low container with water for a multi-sensory approach.  

Sponge tangrams are an easy DIY and a fun way to build visual perception and visual motor integration skills with kids.

Sponge Tangrams Activity

This post contains affiliate links. 

This activity uses a pack of rectangular shaped sponges.  We found ours at the dollar store, but you could pick up a few here

Sponge tangrams are an easy DIY and a fun way to build visual perception and visual motor integration skills with kids.
Use a permanent marker to make a cutting template on the sponges.  You will want to draw lines like shown here.  Mark a "K", "L", and "H" on the sponge to create rectangles, triangles, and squares.  


Sponge tangrams are an easy DIY and a fun way to build visual perception and visual motor integration skills with kids.

Next, cut the sponge with a pair of kitchen shears.

Sponge tangrams are an easy DIY and a fun way to build visual perception and visual motor integration skills with kids.

And, just like that, you are ready to play!  

Use the sponge tangrams to build shapes, copy forms, and practice form recognition and form constancy.  This is a great exercise in visual motor integration and visual perceptual skills.  

Be sure to grab our Tangrams and Visual Perception Workbook for more ways to use tangrams in handwriting and other visual perceptual tasks.  

More ways to play with these sponge tangrams:

  • Soak up some water. Squeeze out the excess and stick them to a window.
  • Float them in water.
  • Play with them in a shallow container of water or other sensory material.

Sponge tangrams are an easy DIY and a fun way to build visual perception and visual motor integration skills with kids.

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 Visual Perception, Tangrams, & Handwriting Workbook

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Summertime fun in our house means a lot of nights in the backyard with the family.  We catch fireflies, play basketball in the driveway, play baseball on the lawn as the sun sets, have fires in the fire pit, and play heated games of tag, hide-and-go-seek, and make lots of summer memories.  Most important of all, summer means time with family.

One thing that we love to do as a family is come up with fun games with a lot of running and active play.  This backyard map game for building spatial concepts was a great way to play together as a family at the end of a hot summer day.  

When the sun starts to set and the fireflies start twinkling, it is so much fun to create family adventures right in the backyard.  We used our Energizer headlight and lantern in a family map game that added a directionality learning opportunity to play.

Drawing and creating maps is a great skill for kids to practice.  When kids picture a scene in their mind's eye and use that image to draw a map on paper, they are using higher thinking skills and spatial reasoning.


This map activity is great for building and developing spatial concepts and higher level thinking right in the backyard, using a map and lights to develop spatial relations.

To play an outdoor map game that builds spatial concepts with the family, first ask your kids to picture their backyard.  Tell them to identify landmarks and borders of the lawn.  Is there a swing set off to the side?  Where is the driveway or a large tree and how do these physical features relate to the back of the house?  Imagining a space and where items are in relation to others allow the child to use spatial relations as they draw them onto paper.


This map activity is great for building and developing spatial concepts and higher level thinking right in the backyard, using a map and lights to develop spatial relations.

While drawing, kids can decide how to draw aspects of the backyard.  They might sketch out a tree or a sandbox area or they might use geometric shapes to represent the items.  A circle could become a tree and a square could become a play area.  Kids will have to picture the layout of the backyard and draw the features in relation to one another.  Spatial reasoning is an essential skill needed for tasks such as maneuvering down a crowded hallway, placing words on a line when writing, and understanding spatial concepts such as "left", "right", and "next to".

Once the map is drawn, slip it into a plastic page protector and attach it to a clipboard. Grab your Energizer headlight and lantern and take the whole family outside to play a map game in the backyard.


Map Game for Building Spatial Concepts


To play the game, have one person hide a small toy like a rubber ball somewhere in the backyard.  Then, that person can use a dry erase marker to mark an "X" on the sheet protector to show where the item is hidden.  The kids can then use the map to locate the item by determining where the object is on the map.  Doing this map game in the dark with a headlight or lantern is a great way to build map reading skills and spatial concepts because the child can't just scan around the lawn to find the hidden object.  They must find the "X" on the map and read the map to locate the physical object hidden in the backyard.

Take the learning and spatial concepts a little further by asking your child to verbalize where the object is hidden and ask them to use directionality terms like "to the left", "beside", and "right".  They can describe the routes they would take to get to the hidden object.


This map activity is great for building and developing spatial concepts and higher level thinking right in the backyard, using a map and lights to develop spatial relations.

Using the clipboard to follow a map allows the child to focus on where they are going.  My kids loved having a headlamp on for our backyard map game because it freed their hands to hold the clipboard, find and hide the hidden ball, and use the dry erase marker to draw an "X" for the other people in our family.  We played this game over and over again so the erasable dry erase marker and sheet protector allowed us to keep playing long after the sun went down!

I loved playing this backyard map game with my kids and we were excited to use our Energizer lights to play.  The versatile lanterns can be used for so many memory-making activities with the whole family.  From filling up a homemade jar with fireflies in a lit area to lighting a S'more making tray, Energizer lanterns can help make the summer nights full of family memories.


This map activity is great for building and developing spatial concepts and higher level thinking right in the backyard, using a map and lights to develop spatial relations.

After our backyard map activity, we decided to use our headlamp and hand-held lantern at our new camp.  The Energizer® Fusion LED Folding Lantern has a panel that folds up to provide vibrant and uniform lighting.  The sturdy stand on the back of the lantern allows for hands‐free use making it a great light for making S'mores and other fire-side camping treats.

The Energizer® Vision HD+ Focus LED Headlight is great for when we need two hands to hold camp supplies.  Being the Highest Performing of the Energizer vision headlights, it's got a beam distance of 80M and a 250 lumen output.  The Digital focus feature allows users to customize the light to the desired width, making it a great camp accessory. We'll be using our Energizer lights all summer long!



  • Energizer® EcoAdvanced™ batteries are the world’s first AA and AAA battery made with four percent recycled batteries. 
  • Energizer headlights are lightweight, versatile and water resistant with pivoting functionality to direct light where you need it. 
  • Energizer area lanterns are the safe, reliable way to provide bright 360° light long into the night, at the camp fire, or while weathering a storm.


This map activity is great for building and developing spatial concepts and higher level thinking right in the backyard, using a map and lights to develop spatial relations.

Whether you are planning a backyard map-making activity for the family or are planning a weekend camping trip, don't forget the Energizer batteries!

I have great news for one of you!  You can enter for a chance to win your own Energizer Prize Pack!

One winner will receive:
One Energizer® Fusion LED Folding Lantern
One Energizer® Vision HD + Focus LED Headlight
Two packs of Energizer® EcoAdvanced® AA and AAA Batteries

That's an approximate value of $90! This is a great prize pack for all of your summertime adventures.

Enter here:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Full Disclosure: This post is sponsored by The Motherhood and Energizer. All opinions are my own.
This is the second post in my little Backyard Summer Sensory series.  Today, I've got proprioception activities for backyard sensory play that are designed to get the kids moving with heavy work using items you've probably already got right in your backyard.  These are easy ways to build sensory breaks into the day, get the kids moving with heavy work.  You can see the first post in the series, where I shared backyard oral sensory activities the other day.  

This series is based on my July Occupational Therapy calendar, which you can grab by joining the newsletter email list. Just click that sign up box over to the right to join thousands others who love receiving OT ideas and updates right in their inbox.  
Proprioception activities for backyard sensory play, these are free and inexpensive sensory activities that provide heavy work right in the backyard.

PROPRIOCEPTION ACTIVITIES for BACKYARD SENSORY PLAY:



  • Hoola Hoop Jump- Place out several hoola hoops (or just one) on the ground.  Create a hopping obstacle course into the hoops. Jump with both feet, one foot, and then the other.  Place the hoops further away for more work. Try making a hopping memory game, much like playing "Simon" in a gross motor way. This activity provides heavy work and input through the lower body as kids jump and hop into hoops.
  • Hose Tug- Use a regular garden hose to incorporate heavy work by pulling the hose across the lawn.  Use the hose to water flowers, bushes, or even to spray at targets drawn with sidewalk chalk.
  • Shovel Carry and Dig- Use a garden shovel in an adult or kids' size to shovel dirt, rocks, leaves, sticks, or mulch from one area to another.  Try filling a bucket with the different mediums and then carry them to another area of the yard.  Good old fashioned lawn work can do wonders for a proprioceptive input seeking kiddo!
  • Jump Rope Pull and Slide- This activity adds a bit of vestibular input to the heavy work of pulling a jump rope.  Use a piece of cardboard cut from a large box or cereal box to create a flat piece.  Have your child sit on the cardboard and hold onto a jump rope.  Pull them around or down slopes as they hold onto the rope.  You can also try this activity with the child pulling another individual on the cardboard.
  • Hop Scotch
  • Bean Bags
  • Corn Hole
  •  Play Leap Frog with friends
  • Jump Rope
  • Fly a kite
  • Climb trees
Want more sensory ideas that can be done in your backyard with items you probably already own?  Grab your July Occupational Therapy calendar for a month full of creative play activities designed to build development. 
Proprioception activities for backyard sensory play, these are free and inexpensive sensory activities that provide heavy work right in the backyard.

More proprioception activities that kids will love: