Sugar Aunts: Tactile Sensory Input in Backyard Play Activities

Tactile Sensory Input in Backyard Play Activities

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.

Tactile Sensory Input in Backyard Play Ideas

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Related Read: Occupational Therapy ideas for kids

Tactile sensory input in backyard play ideas for kids, perfect for summer and all year with outdoor sensory play at home.


  • Create a mud kitchen in an area of your backyard.  It doesn't need to be complicated. A simple piece of wood or a sheet of cardboard makes a nice work space. Use buckets, scoops, and spoons to mix up muddy concoctions while working on fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination to scoop and pour in a tactile sensory (and very messy) imagination play.

       Don't be afraid to let the kids get muddy and messy! Just hose them off            afterwards. Mud and puddles are a part of childhood and the dirt will wash          off.  Have fun and get messy with your kids!

  • Flower Sensory Bin- Explore tactile differences with an outdoor dandelion messy sensory bin.  Add more squishy messy play by adding dirt or sand to the bin.  Use scoops and tongs to add in fine motor work.
  • Feel and Name Game- Fill a bin or paper bag with grass clippings.  To the bag, add random small toys, plastic figures, or magnetic letters.  Ask the child to reach into the bag without looking.  They can locate a small item and feel it as they try to name the object.  
  • Sandbox Dig and Find- Practice tactile discrimination in the sandbox.  You'll need two sets of matching items for this activity. (Magnetic letters, coins, small figures, or matching utensils would work.) When the child is not looking, hide small objects and figures in a sandbox.  Then, show the child an object that matches one of the hidden items.  Do not name the object. Rather, ask them to "find another one just like this."
When in doubt add water!  Try these backyard sensory tactile play ideas: 
play dough
shaving cream
paper mache

Tactile sensory input in backyard play ideas for kids, perfect for summer and all year with outdoor sensory play at home.
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