We know how anxious your child is to get out of the house to explore and burn off energy but protecting them from the damaging effects of heat is crucial. Planning heat-safe sensory activities will help keep your child safe and healthy through these warmer temperatures. Our team has an array of heat-safe sensory activity ideas for you to enjoy with your child while continuing ABA therapy practices to help them continuing forming and strengthening new skills and behaviors.

Outdoor Art Therapy

There’s nothing more fun than a little outdoor art! Incorporating sensory activities can be as simple as pulling out the sidewalk chalk to work on fine motor skills. Spend time drawing, coloring, and work on letter and number recognition. Explore with different chalk sizes and shapes to help them explore texture.

Artistic sensory activities also include:

  • Paint with ice cubes
  • Paint with water and paintbrushes
  • Create a collage with items you find on a nature walk or in your yard

Child with leaves

Sensory Activities and ABA Therapy Strategies

You can’t have good, old-fashioned outdoor play without a little mess, can you? If you’re not keen on the clean-up it may entail, limit the mess by utilizing those ABA therapy strategies to model acceptable behavior and include positive reinforcements. Pull out the sand table or a large tub and fill it with rice, sand, or other fun exploratory sensory activities, including:

  • Jello surprises: place fruit pieces or small figurines in various Jello colors and let your child “dig” into the cold Jello to find them
  • Frozen oobleck provides tons of sensory play opportunities and lots of fun and laughter. Freezing it into molds makes it cold and squishy; a great way to experiment in the heat
  • Mud play is another favorite. Toss in a few hidden treasures, or thicken up your mud and practice drawing or writing
  • Shaving cream, especially with the addition of color, provides limitless sensory fun and is inexpensive and easy to handle
  • Dinosaur digs in the dirt never get old. You can also use buttons, beads, pasta, and other fun “gems” you find around the house.
  • Turn on the sprinklers and let your child run through the grass and cool down
  • Making and playing with slime, with or without tiny objects inside, is another go-to sensory activity kids love. Add in a little coloring and essential oil.

Heat Safety

Before you step outside or head for the park, make sure you prepare for your time in the sun. It’s easy for kids to lose themselves in play, and they typically won’t stop to let you know when they feel they’re overheating. Children with autism may not be able to communicate their discomfort with the heat, so it’s imperative to stay alert, aware, and proactive. Remember, children do not sweat as much as adults, producing heat rapidly without the ability to cool down quickly.

Follow some of these best practices for outdoor play in the sun and follow through with ABA therapy strategies to keep activities safe:

  • Keep your child full of non-sugary fluids
  • Dress them in lightweight clothing
  • Incorporate water play when possible
  • Limit outdoor play to 30 minutes during sweltering weather
  • Designate cool-down breaks
  • Bring wet cloths to cool down
  • Pack an umbrella in case shade isn’t available

We know families want to spend more time outside during warmer months, especially now, but you need to do so safely. Make preparations before heading outdoors and monitor your child closely. Remember to have fun and enjoy these sensory activities with your child as they play, learn, and explore and don’t forget to use each opportunity to practice their ABA therapy goals. We invite you to visit us to find more parenting resources and services we offer to help your child thrive.

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