Heavy Work Activities for the Classroom

Categories: Classroom Setup | Sensory
All of the students (and adults!) in your classroom will present with different sensory profiles, and it is important to build a classroom environment that can meet a variety of sensory needs.  As you build sensory experiences into your school day, consider incorporating heavy work.  Heavy work is one of the most powerful and versatile tools we have in our sensory toolbox.  Today, let’s talk about what heavy work is, why it is important, and ideas for heavy work activities you can use in your classroom.  

What is heavy work?

Heavy work refers to activities that activate the proprioceptive sensory system. The proprioceptive sensory system helps us understand where our body is in space. For a more detailed overview of the proprioceptive system, check out this blog post.  More specifically, heavy work activates the receptors in our muscles and joints.  Therefore, activities that require motions such as pushing, pulling, lifting, squeezing or resistance can be considered heavy work. 

Why is heavy work important?

Heavy work activities are important because they can be very organizing and calming.  They are generally helpful for everyone.  Here are some heavy work activities that you can incorporate into your classroom or school routines to help support self regulation.  I encourage you to think about ways to make these activities a natural part of your classroom.  Many of these activities would be great as classroom jobs or daily classroom routines for all students.

  • Putting the chairs up/down
  • Erasing the board
  • Carrying heavy items such as books or the lunchbox bin
  • Rearranging desks/furniture
  • Animal walks
  • Carrying a heavy backpack (check with your OT to ensure the proper weight!)
  • Pushing a cart/delivery job/recycling job
  • Wall pushups
  • Chair pushups
  • Pushing/pulling self on a scooter
  • Stretching a theraband
  • Using therapy putty
  • Lifting weights or something heavy
  • Using a foot fidget
  • Climbing at the playground
Remember, when you aren’t sure where to start with sensory activities, you can really never go wrong with heavy work!  What are some of your favorite activities?


  1. Thanks for the information. This is so useful for our students who have self regulation issues or just need to get moving periodically throughout the day.

    • Happy to hear it was helpful! Thank you for reading 🙂


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