The easiest ideas are often the best. My cousin gave Chinese Lantern seeds as wedding favors several years ago. These things will take over your yard, and the kids love them! Here are Tater, Spork, and buddies collecting, shucking, and using the wheelbarrow. They played this way for over an hour. If you don't have the pleasure of Chinese lanterns, perhaps there are pinecones, fallen twigs after a storm, or rocks the kids can remove from your garden.
We have hot, humid summers, and our area has many wonderful free splash pads. I bring buckets for Spork to use to double the fun into heavy work too. The Nugget also likes the challenge of balancing a playground ball onto the water jets! Similarly, pool time is fantastic for sensory play. The calming sensation and pressure of the water make it ideal for vestibular and proprioceptive input.
If you can get to a local farm, take advantage! New sensory experiences like rope swings, hay lofts, bumpy tractor rides, and animal friends await you. I have always loved u-pick farms, and now I know why my children do so well there - wide open spaces and heavy work from carrying the buckets!
Playgrounds are a sensory mama's best friend. Our summer sunny day routine involves slathering the kids with sunscreen, filling water bottles, packing a picnic lunch, and playing at the park all morning. It's amazing how they gravitate towards the equipment that fulfills their needs. Tater loves the gentle rhythm and thrill of the swings. Spork zooms to the teeter totter for that bumpy crashing sensation he needs. The Nugget seeks balancing and climbing challenges. If it starts to get boring for them, I just start asking neighbors and friends if I can borrow an extra child for the morning. A peer comes with their own creative ideas and fun!
What about rainy days? You can sign up at kidsbowlfree.com for 2 free games of bowling per child, per day. I just watch them and help them take turns and save the money. Bowling balls are great heavy work!
We are lucky enough to have both a SkyZone and a House of Bounce locally. They are like Spork's mothership.
Say what you will about Pinterest and unrealistic goals, but it is my go-to on a rainy day. We try out a lot of creative art projects for tactile input and fun! Below is one of my favorites - tape bubble wrap to a rolling pin, squirt paint directly on top and roll! Use a real adult-size rolling pin to make it heavy work. Spork also loves "smack" painting with flyswatters and dish brushes.