Yummy Sensory Summer Fun!
By Antonia Llull View Bio
Antonia, better known as Tonina, has been a practicing occupational therapist for over 20 years, specializing in Pediatrics. In her career’s journey, she has founded/directed a
multidisciplinary rehab clinic and a private school for students with special needs (in Orlando, FL) and has been part of the rehab medicine management team at a top rated hospital in Manhattan. Tonina continues to work with children and families while building educational programming for parents and professionals. Founding MPowerMe and mpowermetoys.com culminates her clinical experiences and her love for discovering, sharing, and collaborating with her community to foster growth and creativity in children of all ages and skill levels. She strives to share about the use of toys, games, gadgets, literature, and sensory accessories to build children’s social skills, physical performance, ability to respond adaptively to their environment, and foster their continued journey as life-long learners.
- Fine motor skills
- Reading, Measurements, Fractions
- Writing and drawing (creating menus is a huge motivator)
- Safety awareness
- Budget (include older kids in the shopping and pricing)
- Executive functioning (planning, organization, problem solving, working memory, attention, time management, shifting focus – all the skills necessary to get things accomplished)
The smells, the sights, the sounds, the feel of summer are exciting for kids – the beach, the sand, the sun, the water games, the field games, the hikes – the list goes on. The list would not be complete if we did not include functional-play via food creations as a great part of summer family fun and learning!
The textures, tastes, aromas, and temperatures experienced by preparing and eating food is a sensory experience that doesn’t just last in that “nutritional” moment – the sensory experiences link to the emotions of the day and are powerful connections to our memories and emotional responses. Imagine when you smell something like the cookies your grandmother made, or when you taste the fruits you ate at your first pool party or when you recreate your mom’s favorite recipe and serve it to your family – what do you feel, what do you remember?
Food preparation isn’t just a nutritional experience – It is Functional Play. These activities unite families and friends, bridge generations, foster tradition, improve sensory processing, learning, and creativity. Using child friendly recipes, creating menus, decorating platters, and sharing the food build so many skills.
Here are some make your own ideas for this summer – ice cream and frozen yogurt, smore’s and smores-like goodies, snow cones, and delicious popsicles.
An ice cream maker (electric or the hand cranking version) is fantastic for developing:
- Reading skills (instructions and recipes)
- Planning and organizing, sequencing and memory, selective attention, timing
- Nutritional benefits of learning to limit sugar and increase fresh ingredients
- Fine motor skills, kitchen tool use for cutting, pouring, scooping, stirring, mixing, etc.
- Bilateral coordination and arm-hand endurance
- Safety awareness and procedures when handling electric or sharp tools
- Sensory processing (for cold temperatures, smooth textures, or add multiple textures to your ice cream to increase ability to discriminate textures and eat a variety of combined textures)
A S'mores maker provides a controlled area to make delicious warm combinations of anything “melty” onto graham crackers and savory crackers. We use chocolate and marshmallow of course! We also use cheese and ham with crackers – what will you use when building skills in:
- Safety awareness and rules when handling hot items/fire and any kitchen tools
- Executive functioning
- Fine motor skills
- Impulse control
- Simple sequencing
- Socialization and bonding time
A small snow cone machine, gives a special touch to making this classic, refreshing treat to fostering the skills in:
- Safety rules for handling electric kitchen tools
- Planning and organizing
- Coordination for pouring and scooping
- Creativity when using a variety of flavored syrups for ice colors
- Sensory processing for cold temperatures and crunchy textures
Popsicle molds with fresh fruits and fruit juice is a fun way to strengthen:
- Hand skills, strength, and coordination, especially when using the old-fashioned citrus juicer
- Cutting, pouring, scooping, mixing
- Planning and organizing skills via grocery shopping and budgeting
- Safety awareness and rules when handling any kitchen tool
- Healthy delicious eating with no added sugar and real fruits
- Sensory processing of multiple textures, temperatures, and flavors
- Calming benefits for kids who seek the result of “sucking” and “crunching” actions
Click here to see the actual items we use.
If your child has feeding problems and sensory processing disorder, feel free to email me at: email@example.com