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Welcome Fall – It’s Time to Go Outside and Play!

October 17, 2017 by Angela Hansen0

The Importance of Outdoor Play

Playing and experiencing the outdoors helps brain development in children. Research shows that playing outdoors reduces anxiety/stress and helps children develop self-regulation skills, problem solving skills, language skills, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, social skills, and provides a multi-sensory experience to help children develop sensory processing skills.

Outdoor Play Activity Ideas for Infants

  • Have tummy time outside and introduce their hands and feet to grass, leaves, dirt, sand, and water.
  • Swing and let the child experience different sounds, sights and the gentle breeze on their face.
  • Take the child for a walk in the stroller around the neighborhood or park and let them experience outdoor noises, different weather patterns (warm/cool, sun/rain, wind), and different scents.

Outdoor Play Activity Ideas for Children

  • Build a fort outside with climb through tunnels using cardboard boxes.
  • Create a garden or make a sensory bin garden
  • Sidewalk chalk to create beautiful masterpieces or hop-scotch
  • Wash the car, bikes, or toys
  • Gather old kitchen containers and create an outdoor kitchen and make mud pies
  • Nature walk and gather pretty things for a table centerpiece or outdoor sensory jar
  • Collect pinecones for making peanut butter bird feeders
  • Go on a “listening” walk and identify all the wonderful outdoor sounds
  • Play parachute games using an old sheet
  • Play with empty containers in a sandbox or water table
  • Push and pull activities (wagon, play lawn mower, rake leaves, sweep, push dolls or sibling in a stroller)
  • Go for a wagon or bike ride
  • Kick or throw a ball around
  • Ribbon dance
  • Fly a kite
  • Eat outside
  • Blow Bubbles
  • Jump rope

Adapted Outdoor Play Ideas for Children with Special Needs

  • Plan and pack for success. Along with your everyday outing items (medication, wet wipes, change of clothes etc.) it may be beneficial to pack a timer, a visual schedule, weighted lap sock, lap pad or weighted blanket, a sheet or blanket to sit on to decrease tactile hypersensitivity or to provide a visual boundary
  • Start by playing in the backyard or grandparents or friends backyard
  • Play in quieter areas secluded parks with trees that muffle out the sound of traffic
  • Provide a visual boundary of where to play with cones, ropes, chalk lines, or blanket
  • Set up an obstacle course
  • Bring along motivators (favorite toy cars, trains, Legos etc.) and incorporate them into the outdoor activity (hidden toy car scavenger hunt, make a sidewalk chalk train track)
  • If technology is their motivator, provide them with binoculars or teach them to use cameras or recorders to explore the outdoors
  • Move the sensory bins outside

Fun Fall Outdoor Sensory Bin Ideas

Garden Sensory Bin

  • Organic potting soil
  • Play gardening tools
  • Small watering can
  • Silk sunflowers
  • Small clay pots
  • Seeds (Pumpkin, Sunflower, Dried Beans, Peas)
  • Rocks
  • Toy bugs and critters

Fall Theme Sensory Bin

  • Dried Corn Kernels
  • Dried Beans
  • Rice
  • Fall items / Gathered outdoor items
  • Don’t forget various scoops, tongs, muffin tins, bowls and funnels

Fall Colored and Scented Rice Bins

  • How to Dye Rice: Pour plain white rice into Ziploc bags. Add liquid watercolor paint or food coloring and scent if desired to rice. Seal bags and mix. Once color has sufficiently coated the rice, pour the colored rice onto a paper plate, wax paper, or cookie sheet to dry.

Pinecone Peanut Butter Bird Feeder

  1. Attach string or pipe cleaner to top of pinecone
  2. Cover pinecone in peanut butter
  3. Roll peanut butter pinecone in birdseed
  4. Hang finished pinecone bird feeder in a tree


Apple Scented Soda Dough


Erupting Sidewalk Chalk


Fall Window Painting


Fall Sensory Jars



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