These heavy work 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!
Before we dive into more information about the tactile system, we wanted to mention an awesome resource if you want to learn more about sensory processing.
The RISE With Sensory Course from Your Kids Table is our favorite resource for parents, teachers, therapists, and others to learn all about sensory processing. The course is AOTA approved for .7 CEUs (7 hours). CLICK HERE for more information!
25 Heavy Work Ideas for Small Spaces
This list is full of great heavy work ideas that will give kids the proprioceptive input they need to focus, attend, and engage. These ideas can be used in the classroom, in a hallway as a movement break, or at home. We love these proprioception activities because you don’t need to have a big therapy gym to do any of them! You’ll only need the simplest materials and a little bit of space.
Read through all of them and then grab the free printable to keep on hand whenever you’re in need of a heavy work idea!
- 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
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