Heavy Work in Teletherapy Slide Deck

Spring heavy work activities for teletherapy

Offering sensory, heavy work in teletherapy doesn’t need to be difficult. Wondering how to support sensory kids virtually? Need ideas to help with attention or focus in the classroom? This free teletherapy slide deck covers an area that is much needed for many children. We know that kids today need to move more. But did you know the part that heavy work plays into development and self-regulation strategies in kids?

We see it all the time: kids in teletherapy or in the virtual classroom that just can’t sit still or pay attention. And there’s a lot going on when screens are involved. The research on screen time is telling. But other times, kids are just being kids and movement is needed! Brain breaks and movement breaks are as necessary as hydration and eating healthy meals when it comes to learning.

What is Heavy Work?

Heavy work is a sensory strategy that helps children regulate so they are at a calm-ready state of learning and participation in tasks. For kids, heavy work helps them know where their body is in space by using the proprioceptive sensory system.

When deep heavy input is offered, the child challenges their proprioceptive system. Input in the child’s muscles and joints lets their brain know about body position, weight, pressure, stretch, movement and changes in position in space.  Then, the body is able to grade and coordinate movements based on the way muscles move, stretch, and contract. In this way, the proprioceptive system allows us to apply more or less pressure and force in a task.

Proprioception and that heavy work input occurs when we lift, jump, pull, carry, hug, snuggle, crash, climb, push, etc. All of these movements incorporate the muscles and joints and offer “heavy work” input.
Kids who may benefit from heavy work input might do some of these things:

  • Appear clumsy
  • Fidget when asked to sit quietly.
  • Show an increased activity level or arousal level.
  • Seek intense proprioceptive input by “crashing and bashing” into anything.
  • Slap their feet when walking.
  • Flap hands.
  • Use too much or too little force on pencils, scissors, objects, and people.
  • “No fear” when jumping or walking down stairs.
  • Or, are overly fearful of walking down steps/jumping.
  • Look at their body parts (hands/feet) when completing simple tasks.
  • Sit down too hard or miss chairs when sitting.
  • Fall out of their seat.
  • Fluctuates between over-reacting and under-reacting in response to stimulation.
  • Constantly on the move.

Heavy work is a huge part of sensory diets that are created to help kids organize their sensory systems and regulate those sensory needs.

Occupational therapists recommend heavy work to calm and help kids pay attention. And, if there were any time that heavy work was more needed, it might be during virtual learning.

For more heavy work ideas that cover a variety of themes, grab a copy of the Heavy Work Movement cards.

Spring activities that offer heavy work sensor input

Heavy Work Teletherapy Activity

So how do you incorporate heavy work and all the benefits of proprioceptive sensory input into a teletherapy or virtual learning environment?

That’s where this heavy work virtual therapy slide deck comes into play. I created this slide deck as part of our free slides here on the site, as a support for therapists working with kids in virtual environments. We know that kids need movement to support learning and development of motor skills. They need to move and get that heavy work feedback so they can pay attention, focus, and learn.

This heavy work activity does just that.

Therapists (or teachers, or parents) can use this heavy work activity to help kids get the deep resistive input that they need.

Kids can go through the slide deck and complete each activity. The slides use Spring images and concepts to incorporate proprioception and to offer FUN ways to add heavy work and help kids calm or regulate their sensory needs.

Spring heavy work activities for teletherapy include crawling like a bear that is waking up from hibernation.

Spring heavy work activities in the slide include:

  • Digging in dirt
  • Pushing a wheelbarrow
  • Crawling like a bear coming out of hibernation
  • Waddling like a duckling
  • MORE!

Users can act out each heavy work activity on the slides and work on motor planning, coordination, bilateral coordination, gross motor skills, AND gain the benefits of heavy work input!

Free heavy work slide deck

Want this slide deck in your therapy toolbox? Enter your email address into the form below to access this free slide on your Google drive.

Heavy Work Activities Slide Deck!

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

    Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

    heavy work cards for regulation, attention, and themed brain breaks
    Heavy Work Movement Activity Cards

    Dinosaur Proprioception Activities

    dinosaur movement cards for kids to use for heavy work and coping tools to address dinosaur sized feelings

    This dinosaur brain break activity is a set of free proprioception activities that provides heavy work with a dinosaur theme, making movement and proprioceptive input a fun way to address dinosaur -sized needs. Whether you are looking for heavy work activities for the kids to add to distance learning or heavy work activities for OT teletherapy programs, these free dinosaur movement cards are a great sensory activity to add to your therapy toolbox. Scroll all the way to the bottom of this post to grab your Dinosaur Movement Activity Cards…and check out the Dinosaur OT activities too!

    dinosaur movement cards for kids to use for heavy work and coping tools to address dinosaur sized feelings

    This post explains more about proprioception sensory activities but to better understand why and how to incorporate movement breaks into learning, check out this post on brain breaks for kids.

    This freebie was originally created as part of October’s Sensory Processing Awareness Month, however, for a kiddo that loves anything dinosaurs, it works out great any time of year. Kids with sensory integration needs are those kiddos who are bumping into everything and everyone.  The little ones who fall out of their chairs, press too hard on their pencils, are clumsy, fidget, or seek extra movements. They might flap their hands or slap their feet when they walk.  The thing about kids is that everyone is different and everyone will have different needs, interests, and abilities.  This Dinosaur Sized Feelings sensory movement activity  is perfect for kids seeking sensory input and kids who just need to move!

    Dinosaur feelings can impact emotional regulation, sensory processing, self-care, and function. Use dinosaur themed activities like these dinosaur heavy work cards as a coping tool.

    Now, it’s important for me to note, that when I say Dinosaur-Sized feelings in this post, I’m talking about the child’s feeling of hyposensitivity to their environment.  They are seeking out extra stimulation from people, walls, cushions…anything really and are feeling a big need to improve their central neural system functioning in order to complete tasks and function.  

    (Read more about the Central Nervous System below!)  

    What I’m not talking about in this post is the emotional side of feelings.  There has been at least one study done that attempts to determine whether emotional feelings can be influenced by proprioceptive input. I’m not talking about the big emotional feels we all have. In this activity, I’m focusing on the big feelings of sensory needs kids might have, and how to stomp those sensory needs out with proprioception. It’s all about the ability to regulate those giant, dinosaur-sized sensory related feelings that impact emotional regulation, coping abilities, worries, anxieties. This post on Zones of Regulation activities explains a little more on self-regulation and specific ways to address these needs.

    What is Sensory Integration?

    Let’s cover some of the background info about what’s going on behind self-regulation. Typically, our Central Nervous System integrates sensory input from the environment in a balanced process that screens out certain information and acts on important information, at an automatic level…one that we are not cognitively aware of.  For kiddos with atypical sensory integration, the central nervous system has difficulty screening out unimportant information from our environment.  For those children, interaction with their surroundings can be stressful as they are either over responsive or under-responsive to normal stimulus. This results in dysfunctional behavior and social difficulties. 

    For a thorough explanation of sensory integration, sensory processing, and what specific actions look like as a part of our sensory systems, grab this free sensory processing booklet. You’ll access the free booklet and join a short email course that explains sensory processing in great detail. It’s a free informative course via email that you don’t want to miss.

    free sensory processing booklet

    Proprioception Activities for kids

    I shared a post in the past about proprioception and handwriting with too much pressure.  In that post, I told you how  the proprioceptive system receives input from the muscles and joints about body position, weight, pressure, stretch, movement and changes in position in space.  Our bodies are able to grade and coordinate movements based on the way muscles move, stretch, and contract. Proprioception allows us to apply more or less pressure and force in a task. Instinctively, we know that lifting a feather requires very little pressure and effort, while moving a large backpack requires more work.  We are able to coordinate our movements effectively to manage our day’s activities with the proprioceptive system.  The brain also must coordinate input about gravity, movement, and balance involving the vestibular system.    (This post does contain affiliate links.)

    Kids who are showing signs of proprioceptive dysfunction might do some of these things:

    • Appear clumsy
    • Fidget when asked to sit quietly.
    • Show an increased activity level or arousal level.
    • Seek intense proprioceptive input by “crashing and bashing” into anything.
    • Slap their feet when walking.
    • Flap hands.
    • Use too much or too little force on pencils, scissors, objects, and people.
    • “No fear” when jumping or walking down stairs.
    • Or, are overly fearful of walking down steps/jumping.
    • Look at their body parts (hands/feet) when completing simple tasks.
    • Sit down too hard or miss chairs when sitting.
    • Fall out of their seat.
    • Fluctuates between over-reacting and under-reacting in response to stimulation.
    • Constantly on the move.
    • Slow to get moving and then fatigue easily.
    Dinosaur themed sensory (proprioception) heavy work activities for organizing and calming sensory input. This is perfect for a child who seeks out sensory stimulation.


    Dinosaur Themed Heavy Work Activities

    This activity is easy.  There is not much to it really, other than being a dinosaur themed way to calm and organize those big dinosaur feelings. The heavy work activities add proprioception that can be a tool to address regulation or sensory needs. Here, I’m sharing with you a few heavy work suggestions that may help hyposensitive kiddos.  I wanted to share activities that might be of interest to the child that loves a dinosaur theme.  It’s my hope that these work for you and your family!  If you are looking for more dinosaur themed movement activities, check out this past post sharing Dinosaur movement activities, based on the book popular children’s book, Dinosaurumpus.  

    Dinosaur heavy work activities can help as a coping tool for self-regulation in kids.

    Please note (as with any activity that you find on this website): This is meant to be a resource and not Occupational Therapy treatment.  Please seek individualized evaluation and treatment strategies for your child.  All kids are so different in their sensory needs and abilities and adverse reactions can occur with globalized treatments.   

    Dinosaur themed sensory (proprioception) heavy work activities for organizing and calming sensory input. This is perfect for a child who seeks out sensory stimulation.

      Big dino-sized feelings can happen in a little body!    

    These dinosaur brain breaks are free heavy work cards for dinosaur proprioception activities

     Simply print out the free printable, cut out the cards, and pretend to play, walk, and eat like a dinosaur!  We did use our Mini Dinosaurs as we practiced all of the Dino Moves in these activities. Use them in a scavenger hunt. Your child needs to find hidden dinosaurs and once they bring them back to you, do a proprioception activity from the handout.

    Another idea is to do the heavy wok activities before a fine motor task like handwriting to calm and organize the body.  You can get the free dinosaur proprioception activities printable by joining the thousands of others on our newsletter subscriber list.  You will receive occasional newsletter emails. Once you subscribe you’ll receive an email with a link to the free printable, as well as other freebies that only our subscribers receive.  

    Kids will love these dinosaur activities for occupational therapy to help kids address fine and gross motor skills using OT dinosaur activities.

    Dinosaur Activities for OT sessions

    Looking for more Dinosaur activities?  Try adding these to your occupational therapy interventions. Some of the ideas below are great for adding to teletherapy sessions. Others make great OT home programs.

    Dinosaur Activities for Occupational Therapy

    Ok, you have a child on your OT caseload (on in your classroom or home) that LOVES all things dinosaur…how do you get them involved in therapy sessions? You can totally guide therapy goals along a theme like dinosaurs. The OT dinosaur activities listed below are fun ways to work on specific skills in therapy sessions, using hands-on play and activities. You’ll find fine motor dinosaur activities, gross motor dinosaur ideas, dinosaur printables, sensory play with a dino theme, and even dinosaur visual perception activities. If you have a child in OT who LOVES all things dinosaur, these are great incentive activities that will build attention and focus to the session. Adding a much-loved theme to therapy sessions can empower a child as they play with more intent and attention.

    Occupational therapy activities with a dinosaur theme for heavy work activities and movement.

    Dinosaur Gross Motor Game– This dinosaur game offers kids a chance to MOVE! Use a child’s love of dinosaurs to create movement breaks and indoor activity with a dinosaur theme. This is one indoor play idea that my own children loved when they were little, but the bonus is that they gain midline crossing, motor planning, sequencing, bilateral coordination, balance, endurance, proprioception, and vestibular benefits all in the same movement activity.

    Dinosaur Playdough Kit can be made with play dough and a few small dinosaur figures. It’s a great way to add proprioception to the hands as heavy work before a handwriting activity. This busy activity can be pulled out at any time and kids can keep those hands busy while building intrinsic hand strength and endurance needed for tasks like coloring. Read more about warming-up the hands before fine motor tasks here.

    Free Dinosaur Visual Perception Sheet– This printable page can be printed off once and used with a page protector sheet for the whole therapy caseload. Or, add it to teletherapy sessions or distance learning as part of a child’s specific plan. Kids can work on visual perceptual skills such as scanning, form discrimination, figure ground, form constancy, and other visual perception skills. It’s perfect for dinosaur fans of all ages!

    Dinosaur Counting Cards with clothes pins to clip onto the matching number of dinosaurs is a great way to build hand strength with a dinosaur theme. Print them off and add them to your therapy toolbox. Here are more ways to use clothes pins in building skills in kids.

    Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs book and jacks game– have you read the children’s book, Goldilocks and the three dinosaurs? This children’s book is very cute and a fun way to add books to occupational therapy sessions. Then, add the fine motor and motor planning jacks game to build coordination and dexterity skills by playing jacks. This is such a fun way to add movement and reading to therapy sessions, making motor planning, sustained attention, bilateral coordination, crossing midline, floor play (heavy work!), all integrated into a single dinosaur activity!

    Dinosaur Matching with mini-figure dinosaurs is a fun way to work on visual scanning, visual discrimination, visual memory, and other visual perceptual skills. Using a small ball of play dough, press the dinosaur’s feet into the dough. They can then try to match up the feet to the footprints. All you need are mini dinosaur figures and salt dough, play dough, or similar dough. It’s a fun way to work on skills that come in handy for handwriting, reading, and number identification.

    Dinosaur Guessing Game is a fun way to work on discrimination skills and visual attention. For kids that have trouble attending to tasks, this dinosaur themed activity may do just the trick. Use dinosaur figurines and a box or basket to hide the dinosaurs. You can cover the dinosaurs and ask children to find the dino with specific features such as sharp teeth or a specific color. This visual memory game builds skills needed for letter discrimination and attention to detail.

    Free Dinosaur Number Puzzles– Kids can cut the paper puzzles into strips to work on scissor skills and bilateral coordination. The strait lines or these puzzles make it a great beginning scissor activity for children learning to use scissors. Then, they can challenge those visual perceptual skills to build the puzzle by scanning, and attending to details as they discriminate parts of the puzzles.

    Dinosaur Emergent Reader– Use a piece of colored paper to create a cone dinosaur craft like the one shown in this post. Kids can make colored dinosaurs and match them to dinosaur counters or small pieces of paper that match the colors. Don’t want to make the dinosuar crafts? Use colored cups to pretend!

    Free Dinosaur Subitizing Game– This dinosaur subitizing printable page has a fine motor component by that builds precision and dexterity as kids place counters on a printable play mat. They can roll a dice ans work on an the essential math skill of subitizing. What is subitizing? Essentially, this skill means kids can look at a group of objects and know how many there without having to count each object one by one. Subitizing is important in math, especially higher math skills.

    Dinosaur Sensory Bottle– You know we love sensory bottles! Sensory bottles are a great tool to add to your toolbox to address sensory needs or self-regulation. Using a sensory bottle as a coping tool can help kids relax, calm down, or focus. This dinosaur themed sensory bottle is great for kids who love dinosaur anything! Here is more information on how to make a sensory bottle.

    Dinosaur Letter Tracing– Kids can work on fine motor precision and dexterity while also working on letter formation, gross motor skills, bilateral coordination, crossing midline, visual tracking, and so many more skills. All you need are dinosaur mini-figures, paper, and a marker. Draw a large letter on the paper and then children can place the small dinosaurs along the lines to “build” the letters. Here is more information on teaching letter formation and using manipulatives like these small dinosaur figures in teaching letters.


    DIY Dinosaur Tangrams
    All you need is a set of tangram shapes, paper, and markers to make your own dinosaur tangram pattern cards. Kids will love building their own pattern cards, too. This is a great activity for those who have the actual tangram puzzle pieces, but don’t have access to a color printer or are able to purchase pre-made dinosaur pattern cards. Work on visual perceptual skills by copying and building the geometric dinosaurs together as a fun activity that little dinosaur fans will love. Here is a great resource on how to use tangrams to build visual perceptual skills. Check out that article, and then you can read more on the specifics of tangrams and handwriting. The fine motor activity and the functional task of writing go “hand-in-hand”!

    Dinosaur themed sensory (proprioception) heavy work activities for organizing and calming sensory input. This is perfect for a child who seeks out sensory stimulation.

    Are you looking for thorough information on Sensory Processing and Proprioception (or any of the sensory systems and how they affect functional skills, behavior, and the body’s sensory systems?  This book, Sensory Lifestyle Handbook, will explain it all.  Activities and Resources are included. Get it today and never struggle to understand or explain Sensory Integration again.  Shop HERE.

    This post is part of our 31 Days of Occupational Therapy series where you can find free or almost free treatment activities and ideas.  Stop by every day!  You’ll find more fun ideas each day in October.

    Free Dinosaur Movement Cards

    Dinosaur brain breaks and proprioception activities

      So I can best serve you, are you…
      Powered By ConvertKit

      Healthy snacks for moms

      Healthy snacks for moms

      Here, we’re talking healthy snacks for moms. I’m covering healthy snacks that add not only a nutritious option, but also add a calming and regulating sensory input. Did you know the snack choices you make offer more than just filling a void of boredom or hunger? Let’s talk about how healthy snack choices impact your mood, emotions, and energy state.   

      Healthy snacks for moms

      Most of us moms are on-the-go, right?  We’re off every day to work, the bus stop, preschool drop-off, the library, sports, kids’ activities, family visits, pediatrician visits, grocery store, SOMEWHERE all the time.  

      With constant barrage of information, social media, and never-ending to-do lists, it can be easy to grab fatty, salty, crunchy snacks that offer little in the way of nutritious benefits.  

      In fact, diet and nutrition as well as physical exercise affects brain functioning, energy, and self-regulation of emotion and mood.   

      Healthy Snacks vs Unhealthy snacks

      I’m a pretty healthy mom and with four kids, I need energy to keep going throughout the day.  Sometimes, I get in a little low-energy funk during all of the running around. It’s those times that I grab a quick and healthy snack and pick-me-up to pull through the rest of the afternoon!   Do you ever feel this way?  

      The thing is that there is a direct connection between a healthy diet and a healthy brain. Read here for information on superfoods. Essentially, eating foods that contain a variety of nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants are the key to nourishing the brain. This is because the foods that nourish the brain protect it from oxidative stress, or the free radicles stress produced with the body uses oxygen to process these foods. It leads to damaged cells and forces your brain and body to run on low nutritious foods.  

      There’s more.   

      When you crunch and chew, you are gaining the heavy work input through the mouth and jaw that is calming. Read here about the heavy work input through the mouth and jaw that certain foods offer.    Here is another explanation of the benefits of crunchy foods on regulation and sensory input.  

      In short, when the jaw and mouth chew or crunch foods, they gain proprioceptive input through the mouth. That heavy work offers just as much of the nutritious benefits as it does the sensory benefits. Foods like crunchy nut mixes, granola, crisp apple slices, or air-popped popcorn require heavy work through the mouth and jaw. Likewise, chewy fruit leather, smoothies, or dried dates, cranberries, and raisins can meet that proprioceptive need. 

      In this way, heavy work foods offer the same sensory benefits of a brain break, and heavy work through the joints and muscles that you gain in say running on a treadmill.   

      Read more about this concept in an upcoming blog post on heavy work snacks. (coming soon)

      Refined sugars, empty fatty foods (like those crunchy chips that are soooo satisfying) can lead to impaired brain function, inflammation, low nutritious value, and short-term benefits of the proprioceptive and calming regulatory input. 
       
       

      Healthy Snacks for Moms

      Try these healthy snacks as a quick healthy snack option for moms:
      • Almonds
      • Granola Bar
      • Dried Cranberries
      • Almond Butter and celery sticks
      • String cheese
      • Hard boiled egg
      • Turkey roll-up
      • Avocados
      • Frozen blueberries
      • Apple 
      • Edamame
      • Popcorn
      • Broccoli
      • Celery sticks
      • Peanuts
      • Walnuts
      • Almonds
      • Cherry tomato/mozzarella cheese
       
      *These are definitely snacks that kids can share…and they are great healthy snacks for kids!  But, sometimes a mom needs a secret stash of her own for a pick me up.  And in that case, dark chocolate is the perfect addition to this list!
       
       

       

       
       

      Pair Healthy Snacks with Exercise

      Pairing healthy snacks with exercise adds enormous value when it comes to feeling better and having more energy that moms so often need. One of the reasons is that heavy work input that we addressed earlier. And, what’s more is that there is a correlation between physical exercise and brain functioning. Add that to the benefits from healthy, crunchy, chewy snacks and you’ve got a practical solution for regulation of emotions, mood, and energy!

      Exercise promotes self-regulation

      Exercise has the ability to offer benefits in self-regulation and emotional regulation. Studies show this. And, in fact habitual aerobic exercise is associated with emotion regulation and mood benefits. This is great news, especially when paired with the regulating benefits of heavy work snack choices.

      Just like the sensory benefits of crunchy and chewy snacks, exercise offers us the benefits of heavy work input through the joints. More than that, through regular aerobic exercise offers overall wellbeing, and benefits the brain in that it boosts the size of the hippocampus, gets the heart and sweat glands pumping, and involved with verbal memory and learning

      We know that the hippocampus shrinks in late adulthood, leading to impaired memory and increased risk for dementia. So, with the benefits of healthy foods along with regular exercise, we can make these healthy choices.

      How to add practical physical activity to a busy day

      For myself, I’ve found that using a treadmill allows me the time and ability to fit physical exercise into the busy day of a mom with a business, full schedule, and even facilitating hybrid learning for my four kids. Having a treadmill in the home allows me to sneak in exercise in the morning, during the middle of the day, or in the evenings (even when this mom needs to run kids to and from activities and sports practices). A beginner HIIT treadmill workout is one way to make regular exercise happen within in a busy schedule.

      Incorporating healthy choices into the day, try a home treadmill program. I love the Horizon treadmills, because the exercise equipment is easy to store, and it’s possible to jump on the treadmill throughout the day while gaining the heavy work benefits as well as the aerobic input.

      Check out the Horizon fitness deals, including free shipping that you can access now on the Horizon site.

      Affiliate links are included in this post, but I only recommend products that I own, and love!

      Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.