4 OT Approved Summer Activities in Chicagoland

child enjoying summer activities at museum

It’s official—summer is here! The days are getting longer (and hotter) and your children are excited to get out of the house and do something fun. With school out of session for the next few months, it’s always good to have a few ideas on hand to help keep your kids entertained and engaged. Here are four occupational therapist approved summer activities to help make the most out of these next few months. 

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum 
Location: 2430 N. Cannon Dr., Chicago, IL 60614
Cost: $17 for adults, $10 for children, and free for children under 2 years old (cost is slightly cheaper for IL residents)

Exhibit/Activities:

  • Splash, climb, and crawl through their play area (7 years and younger): Climbing and crawling is a great activity for children to work on their gross motor skills and receive proprioceptive and vestibular input. 
  • Visit the butterfly haven, with more than 1,000 free-flying butterflies: Build your visual motor skills by playing I-spy (“I-spy a black and orange butterfly!”). Or let the butterflies land on you for a new and different tactile experience. You can even work on mindfulness and concentration skills- stand still and see how many butterflies you can let land on you!
  • Enjoy Riverworks, an interactive river experience where you can build your own dam, reverse the flow of the river, and make it rain: Water is a great sensory experience for children of all ages. Building and constructing also work on visual and fine motor skills, such as in-hand manipulation, bilateral coordination, and grasp. You might even have to test your turn taking and sharing skills!
  • Walking through their nature trails is a great way to increase visual and auditory stimulation. Test your visual and attention skills and look out for certain birds, butterflies, or plants. 

Millennium Park
Location: 201 E. Randolph Street, between Michigan Ave. and Columbus Ave., Chicago, IL 60602
Cost: Free

Exhibits/Activities:

  • Visit the Crown Fountain: Water is a wonderful tool for sensory integration and brain development. The spitting fountain of water can provide tactile stimulation as well as pressure for increased proprioceptive input. Just don’t forget your swimsuit!
  • Visit the Bean: The Bean is basically a giant mirror! Practice labeling the body parts you see or make different facial expressions and have your child imitate them.
  • Visit Maggie Daley Park Playground: Climb, crawl, and jump on the playground equipment for tactile, proprioceptive, and vestibular input. Play games such as hide and seek to work on attention, visual scanning, and cooperation. Play out pretend scenarios to target your child’s imagination, creativity, and play skills. 

DuPage Children’s Museum*
Location: 301 N Washington St, Naperville, IL 60540
Cost: $17 for adults, $17 for children, free for kids under 1 year

Exhibits/Activities:

  • Visit their Build It exhibit to experiment with tools and wood: target your child’s creativity and imagination and help them develop important skills such as concentration, eye-hand coordination, planning, and sequencing.
  • The Studio: let your child’s imagination run wild as they develop creativity and confidence in their art abilities. Let your child explore new textures and patterns that offer a variety of tactile and visual inputs!

*Make sure to come during their adaptive playtime, where your child can view a social story to prepare for your visit and enjoy their respite rooms as needed for sensory breaks. Watch out for upcoming days this summer. Limited attendance, pre-registration is required. https://dupagechildrens.org/visit/adaptive-play-time/ 

Exploratorium
Location: 4701 Oakton St. Skokie, IL 60076
Cost: $6 for residents, $7 for non-resident, free for kids under 1 year old 

Exhibits/Activities:

  • Tubes & Tunnels Indoor Playground: Crawl and climb around this fun indoor playground to work on your child’s gross motor skills. Other kids around? Try working on skills like patience, turn taking, and sharing. 
  • Dress-Up Area/Stage: Visit the dress-up area and put on a show! Work on dressing skills, such as taking on and off coats, buttoning, and zipping with your children in a fun way! Let your imagination run wild and develop critical play and creativity skills along the way.

We hope your family enjoys some of these fun, engaging summer activities. For even more ideas on summer activities for kids, check out our other blog here!

Written by Zoey Zeiger, MS, OTR/L

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