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The 10 best activities for your child’s motor skills while school’s out for summer

Here are our 10 favorite summer fun activities to stimulate motor skills:

  1. Set out a plastic swimming pool in the backyard and fill it with sand. Put in some sand toys….now you can hide toys and have a treasure hunt, or add some water and make sand castles, or put in some sticks and write in the sand. Don’t forget to keep the sand clean by covering with a tarp when kids are all finished playing.
  2. Bring out sidewalk chalk and spray bottles full of water, or a bucket of water with paint brushes, to the backyard or on the driveway. Have fun drawing and painting with water and chalk on the cement, wooden fence, and other surfaces.
  3. Fill plastic bowls with water, add in a few plastic toys, and freeze in the freezer. Unmold your ice creations in long plastic bin or aluminum BBQ pan to be set indoors or outdoors on a table. Using water color paint and brushes, “decorate” the ice. Shake salt on the ice and watch what happens. (Photo cred
  4. Bring an inflatable beachball to the park or your back lawn. It’s great for kicking, catching, and throwing and it doesn’t hurt if it hits you.
  5. Scavenger hunt – hide little objects and look for them as you walk around at home or in your neighborhood, or find a printable with picture icons that your little one will easily understand.
  6. Backyard camping—a portable tent, picnic blankets, cushions, snacks, toys, music, books, and its an afternoon of fun.
  7. Rock sculptures- a fun activity for outside. First, hunt for rocks of all sizes and shapes (just make sure they aren’t too big or heavy). Then, using paints, glue, and glitter, help your kids to create colorful rock formations.  Once dry, they can find places to put them in the garden or give them away to others.
  8. Simple games for the backyard like: 1) “Run/ stop” When you say “run” everyone runs until we  hear “stop”  2) jump / “stomp”  with little balls of playdough  – you use your hand to roll it somewhere and then we jump over to it and “stomp” it  3) Bowling—using plastic containers and a ball.  Containers can be stacked or grouped.
  9. Using chalk outside or blue tape inside : create a line (curved or straight) and have kids try walking the line.  Can they go forward or backward  or sideways? This can be combined with a simple obstacle course. 
  10. Have a backyard car wash! Set up with a big tub, some dish soap, and plenty of sponges. Kids can wash their toy cars and trucks, or their tricycles and larger vehicles. Maybe you can even get them to wash your ride!


Elaine Tsang, MS, OTR/L

Elaine Tsang

Occupational Therapist