A Look at Heavy Lifting Activities
Including a sensory diet into our classroom day is so helpful to many of our students. These activities may help the student to be calmer and more focused or organized. For those students who have difficulty with modulating their behavior it is often helpful to incorporate a heavy lifting activity into their schedule or routine. There are many great and varied ways to create these activities but we found this one to be simple and fun and a great beginning step. This task was designed for a student who was clearly demonstrating her mastery and interest in matching colors.
Two-liter bottles were filled with colored sand and stored in a tray donated by a bottling company. A second tray is lined with coordinating colors. The student moves a bottle from the tray on the left and fits it into to the tray on the right. When the tray on the left is empty she knows that she is finished and may check her schedule.
When first teaching this the trays are placed in very close proximity within the sensory motor room. As she becomes comfortable with the task the trays are placed further apart where she will have to travel independently a bit further. Just the simple act of walking a few feet may be overstimulating for some students.
Eventually the trays are taken out of the sensory motor room and placed into the classroom where she may practice this task at scheduled times throughout the day. By doing this we begin to generalize the task into different settings.
Now that she has mastered this skill, the bottles can change! They may be filled with different materials or labeled with photos or patterns or words etc. The concepts are endless. A fun idea is to allow the student if capable to decorate the bottle to look like they do. The student may then carry their “Bottle Buddy” with them to each center, giving some needed input during each transition. Students will even begin to recognize and associate their peers by the way their bottle looks. Brown hair, blue eyes, big bow, etc. This can turn to a social activity…”give Johnny his bottle please” and the student will have to look at and search for his/her peer.
We always strive to start simple and teach the concept of the task until mastery and then add steps to take the task to the next level. No need to reinvent the wheel just give it a whole new look!
One final reminder is to always have a visual reminder of the place to put the bottle or bottles when the student arrives in his area.
Here are a few good sites for more information on Heavy Lifting Activities. You will also find more task ideas incorporating heavy lifting and alternative sensory activities in the Task Galore Series of Books.