Autumn is here! It’s a great season to awaken the five senses, and a wonderful time of year for the family to play outside together. At the apple orchard, there are so many activities children can do that require balance, strength, body awareness, and use of the five senses.
Start with a walk on the nature trail.
- Have your child walk up and down hills and jump over sticks.
- Bring your child’s attention to leaves on the trees. If the leaves have started to change color, ask your child what colors he sees.
- Have your child squat down and pick up some leaves; it’s a good way to work your child’s leg muscles. Have him throw the leaves or make a pile and have him run through them. Ask him how they feel: wet, dry, smooth, crunchy? Ask him how they smell.
Pick some apples
- Have your child look at the apple trees. Ask your child to reach for the apples on the tree, which will get her to stand up on her tiptoes and reach high to get the apple.
- Have your child twist it with her hand and pull it off. This is a great balance activity and also focuses on reaching and fine motor skills.
- Fill a bag with apples, counting the apples and naming the colors as you put the apples in the bag.
Enjoy the scents and tastes
- Ask your child to smell different goodies, such as apples, donuts, cider and pies. These are all great smells to help enjoy the day, and they taste really good, too.
- Have your child try different flavored items and textures.
Play with hay
- A hay bale maze can be great fun for hiding, running, jumping and climbing.
- Some orchards have hay bales for climbing. Climbing to the top is good exercise.
- Let your child jump from hay bale to hay bale. This takes a combination of strength and balance because he has to use a delicate balance of trunk and leg muscles or he’ll fall off the hay bale.
- Have her jump down off a hay bale, where the ground is firmer. Next, have her jump into a pile of hay. Encourage her to feel the straw-like texture. It makes for a soft landing. Ask if she can feel the difference.
- Have your child feel and smell the hay.
Pick a pumpkin
- Let your child pick out a pumpkin, but ask him to carry it. It’s a good strengthening activity.
- At home, clean out the pumpkin with your child and have him feel the gooey insides.
- Have your child draw a face on the pumpkin and carve it with your help. It’s a unique and fun sensory and fine motor experience.
When taking a simple trip this fall, take time to appreciate all that you can see, smell, taste, touch, hear and do. Each adventure can be an incredible experience for a child, and as a parent, you have the opportunity to make these trips a great learning experience by bringing to your child’s attention the five senses and incorporating gross and fine motor skills.
– Amanda Froling, MPT, and Carol Julien-Buell, MPT, Pediatric Rehabilitation at the Beaumont Center for Children’s Rehabilitation