Heavy Work Activities List
The following are activity ideas that a classroom teacher and occupational therapist can choose selected, appropriate items to design a sensory diet for children with sensory processing disorders. These are "naturally occurring activities" that can be incorporated easily into a child's daily routine within the school environment. Keep in mind that programs for children with sensory processing disorders should be monitored by an occupational therapist. These activities are not to be used with every child, but should be specifically selected for each individual child in consultation with your occupational therapist.
Heavy Work in Classroom
q Place chairs on desks at end of day or take down at beginning of day
q Stack chairs
q Erase or wash chalkboard
q Help rearrange desks in classroom
q Cut out items for display with heavy paper (oak tag, construction paper)
q Have child pass out papers/objects to class
q Wash desks
q Staple paper onto bulletin boards
q Sharpen pencils with manual sharpener
q Use beanbag chairs in quiet reading area: lay on top of or underneath
q Prior to seatwork or during meeting, have child pinch, roll, pull theraputty or squeeze toys (such as stars, balls or balloons filled with flour)
q Give child firm pressure to shoulders
q Have child color using large newsprint pad on the floor on forearms and knees. You may put sandpaper or a sheet of bumpy hard plastic used to cover ceiling lights under page for extra input.
q Animal walks: crab walk, leap frog, bear walk, army crawl, others
q Isometric exercise breaks such as: push hands together, pull hands apart, chair push-ups, push ups on wall, push down on head
Heavy Work out of Classroom
q Help custodians empty wastebaskets or do recycling
q Fill crates with books to take to other classrooms. Teachers can ask kids to move these crates back and forth as needed.
q Have students carry heavy notebooks from class to office or to another class
q Have student move several packs at a time of Xerox paper from the storage area to the copy machine area.
q Have student deliver box with bricks inside from classroom to office, or vice versa
q Wear a weighted backpack when walking from class to class
q Help carry lunch bin to cafeteria
q Help physical education teacher move mats
q Help art teacher put up bulletin board displays
q Jog or run along a route around school building or school grounds
q Use letter cut-out machine with adult supervision. Student can collect orders from teachers and press out letters or numbers with adult supervision as needed. This can be very heavy work and is a great strategy for organizing behavior.
q Climbing activities in playground or ropes in gym
q Swing from trapeze bar; pull on rubber bicycle tires while swinging
q Bounce on therapy ball
q Sports activities involving running and jumping
q Open and hold doors for people
q Mini trampoline
q Chewy candy breaks (licorice, fruit roll-ups, starburst, tootsie rolls)
q Crunchy food breaks (dry cereal, vegetables, pretzels, chips, popcorn, gum)
q Sip from water bottle with straw or nozzle top; H2O, lemonade or Tang
q Non-food items that can be chewed (coffee stirrers, brain power pen holders, laces)