Heavy Work Centers and What to Put in Them

Heavy work centers in the special ed classroom are a place where you can do activities that require some effort, like pushing or pulling.


But what do you put in them, and why are they important for students in special ed? 

Discover toys and manipulatives that work well in a heavy work center and why you might want to consider adding such a space to your classroom set-up.

Why Have a Heavy Work Center

Some children in special education need extra activities that help them use their strength. These activities, like pushing and pulling, help them build muscles.

Heavy work centers also help to develop children’s fine motor skills. By pushing and pulling objects, they are able to strengthen their hands, wrists, and fingers, which helps them to complete activities that require more dexterity.

Heavy work centers can also help improve coordination and balance by providing activities that engage both sides of the body.

In addition to that, heavy work centers can offer sensory integration activities that are beneficial for children with special needs. Activities like pushing and pulling weighted objects can help to stimulate a child’s sense of touch, sight, and sound. This, in turn, can help calm a child and help him or her to regulate their senses. In many ways, a heavy work station can be seen as an active calm down corner as it often has the same effects for some students.

By creating an environment filled with different types of materials and textures, these activities help children to interact with their environment and to become more aware of their bodies and their surroundings.

Heavy work centers in the special ed classroom also provide an opportunity for social interaction among students. By engaging with one another in these activities, children can practice communication and problem-solving skills.

This not only helps them academically but also prepares them for future interactions with peers outside of the classroom setting.

Screenshot 2023 05 10 at 10.54.50 AM

What to Put in a Heavy Work Station

This article contains affiliate links to products that might help you in the classroom.

A heavy work center in the special ed classroom is an ideal place for children to engage in activities that require some physical effort and coordination, such as pushing and pulling. Therefore, the things that go in the center must provide them with those opportunities.

Toys and manipulatives that work well for a heavy work center include:

For outdoor heavy work centers, you may want to provide students with:

Activities that can be done at this station are great for reinforcing coordination and gross motor skills, like puzzle-solving and hand-eye coordination.

Push-ups, pull-ups, and tug-of-war are also great activities to include in a heavy work center that is located in a large space or outdoors!

Regulating Sensory Input

Heavy work centers also help to develop a child’s sense of balance and control over their body movements. They can even provide a calming effect when used correctly.

By using heavy work materials in the classroom, children with special needs can learn the skills they need to be successful in school while regulating their need for sensory input.

Since a heavy work center can also provide tactile stimulation and sensory integration exercises, it is important to also include those items. 

The materials used in this station can provide calming input like soft fabrics or weighted blankets or stimulating activities such as finger knitting and squishy balls. Tactile activities are perfect for helping children develop their sense of touch and can even help with motor planning skills. 

Heavy work centers in the special ed classroom can play an important role in a child’s development by providing both physical and tactile stimulation and allowing children to self-regulate.

Overall, a heavy work station is an invaluable resource for any special education classroom. It provides physical activities to strengthen motor skills, tactile materials to stimulate the senses, and sensory integration techniques that are essential for a child’s development. With their variety of uses, heavy work centers can be an important part of any special ed classroom.

What are some of your favorite things to include in a heavy work center? What do your students enjoy using the most? Share your ideas with us below!




  • Cookie Consent with Real Cookie Banner