The JumpTherapy Blog:
Sensory Processing, Motor and Social Skills Resources
for Parents of Special Needs Children

Sensational Strategies to Strengthen Sensory Skills

101 FUN sensory activities to do with your child

Part 3 of 5: Twenty activities to build proprioceptive (muscle work) skills

Powering up proprioception
Now that we’ve discussed strengthening activities for tactile and vestibular processing, let’s turn our attention to building up the proprioceptive system.
This system brings all our senses together. Based on all the sensory input it receives, our proprioceptive system informs us where our bodies are in relation to space. It allows us to sense the placement and movements of our limbs, and tells our muscles how to react in coordination with each other.
We can use proprioceptive organizing activities to order all of the senses into gross motor “heavy work” patterns, moving against resistance to give intense input, deep pressure,dd to muscles and joints. Some examples of “heavy work” are: pushing, pulling, carrying, lifting or jumping. 
Don’t worry, you’re not going to be putting your child to work digging up boulders and landscaping your yard. Work for the muscles can be play for the rest of the child!  
Try these activities to strengthen your child’s proprioceptive system:
– Pushing and pulling wagons, pushing a stroller or grocery cart, pushing palms together, pressing pegs into a pegboard, using resistance bands
– Playing on and hanging from monkey bars
– Stretching up to the sky, yoga poses and stretches
– Playing horsy
– Wheelbarrow walking, walking with a bag of rice or a beanbag balanced on the head
– Ripping paper
– Hammering nails into logs
– Crawling through tunnels and boxes, navigating an obstacle course
– Tumbling on the ground, play wrestling, having a pillow fight, jumping or crashing into pillows
– Tug of war, push’o’war (back to back)
– Popping bubble wrap
– Holding up the wall, wall push-ups or push-offs with hands and feet, using a scooter board on belly and bottom to do wall push-offs
– Playing catch with a ball, passing weighted balls
– Kneading dough or meatloaf, playing with play dough, squeezing stress balls, 
– Using a weighted blanket or lap pad, bear hugs, massaging, rolling up in a blanket like a burrito, making a pillow sandwich
– Helping with chores around the house (carrying laundry, gardening, carrying groceries, hosing down a car, opening doors without help)
– Jumping on trampoline, popcorn jumps  (jumping from a squat position and then landing back in a squat position)
– Drinking thick smoothies through a straw
– Blowing bubbles
– Playing body awareness games like “Simon Says,” “Hokey Pokey,” and mirroring games
Looking ahead:
In the next post, we will discuss ideas for different visual-system-stimulating activities.
Do you and your child engage in any special proprioceptive activities? What works well for your family? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. Also, let me know there or via email what topics you would like to discuss or hear more about. 
Feel free to share or quote from this blog (with attribution, please, and if possible, a link), and to repost on social media.
I look forward to hearing from you!

All the best,

About Miriam:
Miriam Skydell MS, OTR/L is a pediatric OT with 30 years experience and a strong commitment to empowering every child and every family with the skills, confidence and emotional stability necessary for a meaningful, independent life. In addition to her Masters degree from NYU (1986) and membership in the AOTA (American Occupational Therapy Association), Miriam is a licensed Interactive Metronome®,  HWT (Handwriting Without Tears®), and TLP (The Listening Program®) provider.

Miriam performs preschool screenings, contracts experienced OTs, PTs and STs to schools, helped implement the HWT curriculum, and lectures extensively for parent and support groups and at teacher conferences for public and private schools throughout New Jersey. Through her private practice in Fair Lawn, Miriam Skydell and Associates, established in 1995, Miriam has helped countless children with a wide range of diagnoses improve functional living skills, manage the impact of sensory processing dysfunction, and meet their individual potentials.