Rainy Day Activities for Special Needs Kids

Emily Vanek
January 24, 2012

Whether your child is on the autism spectrum, has developmental delays or another diagnosis, these activities are a great way to sneak in skill development while playing. Below are five great activities for some fun on a rainy day, or any day you have to be indoors. Therapists agree that getting kids involved in these various activities is great for their confidence as well. For further reading and more great activities, check out the book, The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun by Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A., a great resource for any parent of a special needs child.


If your child has Sensory Integration Disorder (also known as Sensory Processing Disorder), getting them to touch slimy things can be touch. Whether your child is a sensory seeker or resister, this quick and easy slime recipe combines the sensory component, along with fine motor skills like the pincher grasp by burying jacks or other small toys in the slime and have the child pull them out.

Materials: Elmer's white glue or Elmer's school glue gel, Borax, water, two bowls, food coloring (optional)

What to do: In one bowl, mix 1 cup (8 oz) glue and 1 cup water. Add food coloring, if you want colored slime. In the other bowl, mix 2 teaspoons Borax with 1 cup water until the Borax is dissolved. Add the glue mixture to the Borax solution, stirring slowly. The slime will begin to form immediately; stir as much as you can, then dig in and knead it with your hands until it gets less sticky. That's the messy part of this recipe! Pour off any excess water.

Mix-and-Match Chips

Have old empty formula or coffee cans around? This great fine motor activity uses a recycled can with a lid (of any variety). Cut a slit in the top of the lid. Get some poker chips from a thrift or hobby store and place stickers of different animals, cards, whatever you child enjoys. Have them drop the chips inside the can. Simple, easy and cheap fine motor skill development.

You can work on cognitive skills with those same poker chips as well. Most poker chip sets come in 4 colors. You can put two of the same sticker on different chips and then match them or start easier by matching and sorting the plain chips by colors. Have a few small bowls for them to sort them, count them and match them.

Obstacle Course

For gross motor skills, set up an obstacle course! Make a "tunnel" for your child to crawl through using a couple of chairs and a blanket. Use pillows for "hills" they have to climb. Maybe even set up some toys along a path as a maze to go through. The possibilities are endless! You can also hide things along the way and turn it into a scavenger hunt.

The Animal Game

Another great activity that combines gross motor skills with speech and cognitive abilities is an animal game. Have your child in a room with lots of space to run. Say the name of an animal and have them act out what the animal does and says. An example: a horse says, "neigh", now have the child gallop around the room. A dog says "woof," crawl around on all fours.

As with all of these activities, don't forget the end result is supposed to be that you and your child had fun. Join them in the games and give encouragement along the way. You child won't realize you are working on skill development, they will just know that you are spending some quality time with them. 

From the Parents

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