12 Summer Outdoor Fun Ideas for Kids with Special Needs

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Kids of all abilities are excited that summer is finally here! No more school often means that it’s up to the grownups to entertaining the troops!


To ensure that you have some tricks up your sleeves, here are 12 ideas for outdoor fun for kids with special needs, as recommended by our team of recreational therapists.

1.    Outdoor Sports and Ball Activities: Purchase an adjustable basketball net for your child and enjoy some sports outside from seated or standing position. Partner up the kids to add a social aspect to the game. Watch for good deals online and at neighbourhood garage sales in the upcoming months!

Try these tips for adapting your ball activities to suit the needs of all your children:

  • Different-sized balls: different weights can make the game move slower or faster. For example, balloons would slow down baseball and they make an easier target to bat or catch. A smaller or slightly deflated ball may be easier for some children to grip and throw.
  • Velcro gloves can make catching easier!
  • Different bats, like a foam noodle or a badminton racket can add a new challenge to the game.
  • Change the rules: number of turns, playing field size and giving kids more tries to hit the ball can all go a long way in promoting success for everyone.
  • Substitutes: one child can be the “hitter” while another is the “runner,”; a child with limited mobility can be the referee or umpire.
Easy ball games to adapt:
-    Baseball
-    Basketball
-    Volleyball
-    Badminton

2.    Bubbles: Bubbles must be the international language of outdoor fun! If your child with special needs can’t blow them by themselves, have the kids take turns playing “pop the bubble” games to include everyone. You can make your own bubbles with these fun recipes.

3.    Outdoor Water Play and Sensory Bins: Take your sensory bins outside or fill a bin with water and have some fun filling cups, placing toys in and out of the water or even make a “car wash” by washing toy cars. Check out our Pinterest pages for some great ideas!

4.    Mini golf: Outdoor mini golf is one of the things our CTN kids love to when the weather gets warmer. Whether you golf from a standing or seated position, this fun activity is great for the whole family!

5.    Drive-in Movies: Pack your snacks and head to a drive-in movie! The kids can sit comfortably in their usual carseats and enjoy some of the summer’s best hits! Here is a list of drive-ins across Ontario, call first to check showtimes.

6.    Local Attractions: Be sure to check the accessibility link on their websites to insure that your child can enjoy the rides or activities. Use your Easter Seals ACCESS 2 card to allow caregivers to get in FREE and other great discounts! The Access 2 Card provides persons with a disability a personalized card printed with their name and the card’s expiry date. When going to their attraction of choice, they simply need to present the card along with a piece of ID (not required for cardholders who are minors), and their attendant will receive a free ticket. Check this link to see the list of Ontario’s attractions, including; The Toronto Zoo, Bingeman’s, SkyZone, Ripley’s Aquarium and many more.

7.    Trampolines: If your child is able to enjoy a trampoline, it is guaranteed to give him or her hours of entertainment, assuming all the safety rules are followed. Ask your child’s team about any limitation or tips for play.

8.    Parachutes: Kids can participate with parachutes in a variety of ways: holding the handles, running underneath, or making a ball bounce on the top. Be sure to sing some fun parachute songs too.

9.    Ride-On Toys and Trikes: With helmets on, many kids like to try to ride-on toys and adapted bikes for sidewalk adventures! Even some children who aren’t walking independently can use their feet and legs to propel them down the sidewalk. Remember to speak to your child’s team to learn what is best suited for your child’s needs and check out online sales for used toys and trikes!

10.    Inclusive and Accessible Parks: Don’t you just love that more and more parks are becoming accessible for children of all abilities? Whether it’s a ramp to explore a second level of a jungle gym or adapted swings, community parks are becoming a great place for kids with special needs! Pack up a picnic and hit the inclusive and accessible parks in your area, including Sunnidale Park in Barrie and Crosby Park in Richmond Hill. To find other parks that might work for your family, try Barrie Tourism, this listing in York Region or this great site with accessible parks across Canada.

11.    Splash Pads: If you child likes the water, there are several community parks that now have splash pads to keep the kids cool this summer! Waterparks with attention to sensory issues and soft padded surfaces to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs make it fun for so many kiddos!

12.    Local Farms: Petting zoos and local farms are a great way to expose young kids to animals in a safe and family-friendly environment. Check the farm's website or call to see if you can bring your own carrots or lettuce to feed the animals too!

Check out our CTN Events Calendar for all programs, family fun and parent coffee chats!

We wish all of our families a wonderful summer!