These heavy work activities and ideas for small spaces can help kids demonstrate calmer behavior and more coordinated, organized movement.
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Do you know a child who:
Constantly bumps into other people or objects
Is uncoordinated and clumsy
Constantly chews on her shirt or pencil
Seems to always be breaking things
Has difficulty attending and sitting still
All of these are signs that this child may be in need of additional proprioceptive input to help calm and organize the body.
What Are Heavy Work Activities?
Proprioceptive activities are often referred to as “heavy work”. Heavy work is accomplished by working against weight or resistance through activities like shoveling snow, playing tug of war, riding a bike, swimming, pushing a heavy strollers, or pulling a loaded wagon.
But heavy work activities don’t always have to involve a lot of space. Whether you’re a teacher with limited classroom space, a therapist who works in the corner of a crowded hallway, or you’re stuck in the waiting room at a doctor’s office and wanting to calm your anxious child – try these heavy work activities to provide that calming proprioceptive input!
25 Heavy Work Activities and Ideas for Small Spaces
- Bear hugs
- Play with a Body Sock
- Yoga Poses
- Pulling resistance bands with hands
- Playing passing games with weighted stuffed animals
- Weighted sensory bottles
- Animal walks
- Wall pushes
- Chair dips
- Tossing and catching heavy bean bags
- Boxing with boxing gloves against a mat or bolster
- Roll a therapy ball up and down the wall
- Squeezing putty or play dough
- Playing tug of war with Pop Toobs
- Tearing paper (especially heavier card stock)
- Crumpling paper and shooting into a garbage can
- Pushing and pulling Squigz
- Cooking activities (e.g. kneading, stirring thick dough)
- Stepping up onto a chair or bench and jumping down (with close supervision!)
- Squeezing sensory balloons (filled with dry beans, dry rice, or play dough)
- Digging in a tactile bin of wet sand or Kinetic Sand
- Writing on and then wiping off or erasing a dry erase board
- Pushing feet against resistance band tied to the legs of a desk
- Wall sits
What are your favorite heavy work ideas for small spaces? Leave them in the comments below!
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Rosalyn McDermott says
I am an occupational therapist practicing in a small rural community. I have worked primarily adults and neuro-rehab most of my career. Currently I am establishing an OT presence in this small hospital and have had several referrals for kiddos. I have one little guy with sensory processing disorder and am looking for ideas to use with him, that is how I found your site. I plan to try some of these ideas and pass them along to his kindergarten teacher.
Useful articule and material.
We do super heroes to incorporate spinning, upside down, body pressure, core
I call a super hero name and there is an action the students do.
Superman – lie on the ground, one arm outstretched
Wonder Woman – one arm out, spin til I say “Stop and bob” and students bob on the spot to stop dizziness
Bridge – lie on the back, knees bent and lift bottom up
Flop – flop flat to the ground (full body deep pressure)
Dead ants – lie on back, legs wiggling in the air ( if you call flop then it turns into a rolling fully body pressure)
Dragon – flap arms up and down across the midline
Inch worm – hands and feet on ground, “first the hands, then the feet” and they walk
Jessica Engblom says
Love the super hero addition!
Love this for apartment living!
That’s good news, I’ve been searching for it for days