Every OT group at Rise begins with a sensory activity. A favorite activity in all the classrooms has been using two large bed pillows to provide “squishing” or deep pressure input to the kids. We play “Bumper Pillows” – adult and child each hold a pillow in front of their body and bump each other like bumper cars. Another favorite is “Making a Sandwich” – one pillow is on the floor as a slice of bread, a child lays on top of that pillow and adult applies sandwich contents by squishing pillow onto the child. The kids also enjoy having pillows dropped onto them as they lie on the floor. Another fun game is piling pillows and cushions on top of children and then each child has to push the pillows off to climb out.
Besides being a lot of fun, these games do have a therapeutic purpose. The deep pressure provided by the pillows is calming and organizing input. It also provides proprioceptive input (the sense that uses receptors in joints and muscles to tell us where the body is and how it is moving in relation to objects and space) to help the children learn body awareness in space for motor planning movements.
These activities are also great to do at home, especially since pillows are the only equipment needed. “Squishing” with pillows (“Making a Sandwich”) is a good activity to add to your bedtime routine as it can be very calming. “Bumper Pillows” is a good activity to play after school or after a long car ride or before going to an event requiring long sitting times as it gives your child a chance to be active without becoming “wound up”. It is important to structure these sensory activities so your child knows when the game will end. Count the number of turns for Bumper Pillows, determine how many sandwich contents you will apply or how many times you will pile pillows on top of your child. These games also work for the whole family and provide the same benefits to older children as they do for preschoolers. It is also fun to see what games your children invent with the pillows! Just remember that the goal is providing pressure input with the pillows AND having fun!