Time at home this summer is the perfect formula for family connection and getting creative with your kids. Quality time spent with your children helps build attachment, and with a little intentionality we can turn simple activities into exercises for sensory processing, self-regulation, and proprioception*. Here are a few ideas for summer activities packed with more benefits than you might expect:

Bubble Play

Bubbles seem to be a favorite for children across the board, and you may be surprised at the multitude of benefits this simple activity has to offer. Blowing bubbles is a great breathing technique for regulation that allows a child to inhale deeply, sending more oxygen to the brain. This could be a good transition when you notice your child is having a hard time regulating their emotions. 

The type of bubble container you have will determine the benefits your child will receive. Standard bubble bottles with a bubble wand allow for hand-eye coordination as the wand is dipped in and out of the bottle. Larger bubble wands allow for movement and running, which is a great energy burner for an active child. Your playful engagement as you follow behind the bubble trail keeps you both connecting as well.

Make Your Own Ice Cream In a Jar

Keep children entertained and work up an appetite. Check out this recipe sent in by one of our resource parents, or use your favorite homemade ice cream ingredients. Find one that works for your family’s diet, as long as it can be made in a jar. The shaking of the ice cream in the jar is a proprioception exercise (aka heavy work) which helps children with body awareness. 

After the ice cream is made, take turns tasting each other’s unique creation having your child spoon feed you their flavor. The eye contact and intimacy that is involved in feeding each other naturally builds attachment, like that of a baby being fed by a parent during infancy. 

Tip: Use a jar appropriate for your child’s age and stage (in case it happens to get dropped during the shaking process). 

Create Slime

Children with sensory needs tend to love the texture and feel of slime. It only requires a few simple ingredients and could be the stimulation your child is seeking. We loved this recipe, but there are many variations that will work. Be sure to check the safety of ingredients in other recipes. This activity is not just for younger children; your teenagers may want to whip up a batch or two of their own! 

Tip: Be careful and attuned to the age and stage of your child. Give your child options to customize the slime with glitter or food coloring; this gives your child the power to make a choice in a healthy and non-threatening context.

Ice Blocks

Using food coloring, water, and ice cube trays/zip block bags, create blocks of ice for your child to melt or build with. Let your child practice filling the designated container with water; this promotes gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Using their favorite colors, fill the container with food coloring. If your child is younger, experiment with mixing colors to teach how colors can be combined to create new ones. 

Once your ice blocks are frozen, put your child’s gross motor skills back to work by building a mini ice fortress or stacking on the back of a toy truck. For a heavy work activity, provide your child with an age-appropriate hammer or tool to chisel the ice into a shape. There are many ways to play with ice blocks, especially on a hot day. 

Tip: Place small, freezer-safe toys (i.e. plastic figurines, bouncy balls) inside the ice tray before freezing. Once frozen, have your child work to get them out in whatever way they find safe and fun.