For others, the rain has watered – rather than drowned – opportunities. The rain has provided a natural tool for fun and unique sensory diet activities – rainy day sensory solutions.
If it is raining in your part of the world, get your sensory on and head outside to drench yourself in delight with some fun summer activities for sensory diets. There’s a world of potential sensory input in store for your child including:
- auditory input
- fine motor input
- finger strengthening
- proprioceptive input
- tactile input
- vestibular input
- visual input
1. Dress Up in Shaving Cream
Looking out at the rain? Stop. Get a drop cloth, some shaving cream and prepare for some seriously messy fun. Using the shaving cream, play a new version of dress up.
Make a beard.
Turn your hair white (but only the bottom or back of it so as to avoid run off into the eyes!).
Make “muscle” arms.
Get creative. Then, step out into the rain and let your work dissolve. Once it is all rinsed away by the rain, hide under a tree or deck to dress up in a new costume.
The shaving cream, of course, is a time-tested tool for tactile input. Manipulating cans of it promotes finger strength when pushing down on the sprayer. Stepping out into the rain with shaving cream on and having it wash away ups the tactile input ante.
Sensory avoiders may prefer to use friends, siblings, and even parents as their costume canvas.
Having a towel on hand for clean up and eye-wiping for all is a good idea!
2. Paint with Chalk
Is it sprinkling outside? Grab your sidewalk chalk, which is not just for sunny days! In fact, if you draw on wet pavement, chalk lines come out a bit like painted ones. Plus, as the rain comes down harder – or if you draw on an incline – it’s fun to watch the colors stream away.
Playing with sidewalk chalk in the sprinkling rain is fun with a purpose! Watching the path of wet, colored streams promotes visual tracking. Using chalk pieces that are but 1-2 inches long promotes a tri-pod grasp. Squatting while drawing strengthens the leg muscles. The chalk and the rain provide tactile input.
3. Play Mud Ball
Got sporty kids? Realize that almost any backyard ball game can become more fun in the rain. Football. Kickball. Soccer. Dodgeball. Put the game in the rain and it offers an extra element of laughter and sensory input as players squelch and slide through mud. Sensory seekers love it!
The extra strength it takes to move through muck offers great proprioceptive input and the mud, of course, adds tactile input. Plus, visual tracking is inherent in ball games. Just be sure to have clean up towels and a laundry bag on the ready for those that need them!
4. Float Rafts & Boats
Do shallow rivers form in your yard or on the roadside? Get some fine motor input while making small paper boats or creating floating devices from acorn caps, small sticks and other found items. Then, float these down rain rivulets.
Making the rafts and boats encourages fine motor coordination. Watching the paper boats float along the rain streams requires visual tracking. Chasing after them (and bending to readjust their courses) offers proprioceptive and vestibular input.
5. Go for a Woodsy Walk
Woods nearby? As long as there are no thunderstorms in the forecast, a rainy day is perfect for a walk in the woods. Feel the rain splash onto you as you step from tree-leaf covered areas to open ones. Notice how certain areas seem to stay dry while others get soggy. Race to jump from one dry spot to another, or one puddle to another. Listen for the symphony of sounds as rain filters through the treetops.
As with any walk in the woods, a rainy day one provides ample opportunity for proprioceptive, vestibular and visual input. The sound of the rain adds extra auditory input and the feel of it increases the tactile aspect.
Notes & Tips
- The temperature, sound and feel of rain adds what can be a fun and invigorating, but also challenging, aspect to otherwise typical activities. Be sure to be cognizant of when the balance might tip from “just enough” input into sensory overload. Be sensitive to differing sensory needs, and make appropriate accommodations, such as providing necessary clothing items, towels, gloves, etc. or simply taking cover after but a few minutes out in the rain.
- Don’t forget the benefits of traditional outdoor rainy day activities, such as puddle jumping, catching rain drops on tongues or singing in the rain. If you take particular notice of how the world looks when it is wet as opposed to dry (for example, of how rain makes stones shine), then simply getting active outside in the rain provides easy extra input for 7 of the 8 senses.
- Be aware that the feel and sound of rain can cause an extra need for potty breaks. The 8th sense – interoception – is definitely one to watch when spending time outside in the rain.