Some occupational therapy rooms are full of crash mats and things for children to jump onto. Not only are these types of jumping and crashing activities fun for your child, they also have a lot of sensory benefits.
A crash mat can provide proprioceptive input and deep pressure for your child which leads to better regulation and body awareness. Having a regulated body means your child can focus, concentrate and learn more effectively, and these are all important school readiness skills.
Creating your own crash mat is simple to do and having fun on a crash mat is an easy way for kids to burn off some energy when they are indoors.
They are also a fantastic resurce to have at home of your child, like many Kids First clients, engages with their OT via tele-health.
Grown Ups Guide to the Game
There are two types of fillings for a DIY crash mat. You can build your crash mat with soft items that you have at home, or if you prefer, you can purchase foam offcuts from a store such as Clark Rubber.
For this activity you will need:
- 2 doona covers
- Large comforters or blankets
- Large stuffed animals (avoid hard or plastic ones)
- Alternate filling option – offcuts from a store that sells rubber products
- Strips of velcro (optional)
For an affordable option, you may wish to support a charity and purchase previously loved and affordable secondhand linen and soft toys to place inside your crashmat.
Place pillows, blankets, stuffed toys or foam offcuts inside the first doona cover. Squeeze as many soft items as you can inside the doona cover so that the first layer is soft to jump on. When the donna coer is full, zip or button it up.
You will need a helper (preferably a grown up one!) for this step. Place the filled doona cover into the second doona cover so that your crash mat has an extra layer. It is helpful if the end of the doona that has buttons or zips is placed first into the ‘non-opening’ end of the second doona. This ensures that when your enthusiastic child jumps on the crash mat, its filling doesn’t explode through two openings onto the floor!
Fasten the buttons of the second doona so that your crashmat is complete. (For extra security you may choose to add Velcro strips to the edges of the second doona’s opening to strengthen it)
Your crash mat now can be used for:
- ‘Heavy work’ which will allow your child to move the crash mat around. Pushing and pulling it will help to regulate their body.
- An obstacle course for your child to jump on, crawl under or roll in.
- A scavenger hunt. Hide a toy or household object that does not have sharp edges inside the doona and encourage your child can go inside to find it. (This can be tricky as they will need to move things around inside the doona)
- Make ‘sausage rolls’. Position our child in the middle of the crash mat, fold it over them and push down firmly. Amid the giggles and smiles, your child will receive proprioceptive input that is terrific for regulating their body/
Your child is likely love to this activity because crash mats are a fun and exciting way to expel energy and keep their body regulated. You could have the crash mat out all the time for your child to explore or bring it out just for certain times of the day.
If your child engaes in OT via tele-health, a home made crrash made is an awesome resource too.
Encouraging safe play with the crash mat and making some rules about its use will be beneficial for your child, so make sure they know what they are and are not allowed to do so they are able to have a positive and fun play session.
With thanks to A’s mum for her creativity and permssion to use photos of the crash mat she created for her little boy in this resource.
© 2020 – Kids First Children’s Services
Could your child benefit from the support of an occuaptional therapist?
Kids First’s experienced team of occuaptional therapists support children of all ages and abilities via face to face and tele-health sessions. No matter where you live in Australia, our OTs can help you and your child overcome the challenages that affect their ability to participate successfully at home, preschool and school.
Kids First’s OT work alongside our child psychologists, speech therapists and teachers and our programs are eligible for rebates from the NDIS, Medicare and pribvate health funds.
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