Outside Activities to Promote Development | Hyde Park Moms

Now that the warm weather is finally here it is time for some outside activities! As you know, outdoor activities are a great way for children to stay fit as well as release some excess energy. Here are some great ways to promote gross motor, fine motor and speech & language skills throughout summer outdoor play from ABC Pediatric Therapy!

Gross Motor

Below are some gross motor activities that promote strength, motor planning, balance, reaction time and coordination.
When climbing up and down a jungle gym ladder, encourage your child to have their stomach against the ladder.  This makes all the right muscles work.  Going up is typically no problem but be careful when your child is learning to come down a ladder.  Your child may need verbal cues to look where they are placing their feet.  He/she may need manual help to find the step.
Have your child climb up a slide.  This encourages strengthening in the hands and legs.  It also requires them to be aware of their own safety.  Encourage them to look to the top of the slide first to be sure no one is there
Monkey bars not only develop upper body strength but also encourages motor planning and weight shift so they can move across the length of the bars.
Swinging on a strap swing is great for grip strength, trunk and abdominal strengthening and even motor planning in order to propel the swing.

Fine Motor Activities

Sand play – if you live near a beach (or are going to a beach), playing in the sand provides great tactile input for your child. If not, you can use a sand box, sand table, or simply fill a plastic container with sand to play outside!
Water play – sprinklers, pools, splash pads, playing at the beach, or playing in a hose. Some parks also have water play activities
Biking – ride a bike, scooter, tricycle, etc. – take them around the block or to a local park
Park – getting out to the park to swing, slide and climb is not only great for providing some sensory input, it is also great for strength, coordination, and social skills.
Hiking – take a hike through a nature preserve as a family
Sports and other activities – soccer, tee ball, baseball, swimming, art class

Speech and Language

Playground activities can be a great and fun way to incorporate speech and language skills during play time.

  • Have the child name items at the park/playground that contain sounds you are working on (e.g. If the child is working on /s/ sound have them label pictures such as “sit, slide, swing, toss, etc.”)
  • Have the child play “I spy” game and seek out items/objects that begin with targeted speech sounds
  • Have the child talk about what is going on at the playground using his or her correct speech sounds

Language Activities

  • Pronouns: have the child talk about what other boys and girls are doing at the playground using correct pronouns (he, she, his, her)
  • Actions: have the child talk about what others are doing (e.g. jumping, running, swinging, sliding)
  • Adjectives: have the child use describe items at the playground
  • Is the slide fast or slow?
  • Is the pond wet or dry?
  • Is the ladder tall or short?
  • Is the slide big or little?
  • Following Directions
  • Have the child follow simple 1-step directions (e.g. “Go down the slide”)
  • Have the child follow 2-step directions (e.g. “First go down the slide then sit on the swing”)
  • Have the child follow 3+ step directions by completing an obstacle course using playground equipment
  • Ask the child a variety of “wh” questions (e.g. what, where, when, why, how)
    • “Who is swinging?”
    • “Where is that boy standing?”
    • “What is that girl eating?”
    • “Why is there a ladder?”


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