Body Awareness, or proprioception, is the sense of self-movement and knowing where one’s body is in space. It is important for motor planning and coordination, and helps in moving through space and navigating around objects or people in the environment.
Children with poor body awareness may:
- Have difficulty learning or imitating new movements
- Have difficulty with gross motor skills
- Be overly clumsy
- Use extreme force (such as with toys, stomps feet, colors with a lot of pressure)
- Prefer to be in smaller rooms as opposed to wide open spaces
- Enjoy and/or give bear hugs
- Not tolerate being in the dark or do not like closing their eyes
Try these activities to improve body awareness!
1. Simon Says: When playing this game have them imitate movements or poses, and/or point to body parts. For example: “Simon Says touch your nose,” or “Simon says jump like a frog.”
2. Twister: This game helps them understand left from right, and identify their feet from their hands (best for ages 6+)
3. Sing and move along to songs such as “Hokey Pokey” or “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”“
4. Practice building a person out of different materials such as playdough, or practice drawing a person, and then have them identify body parts.
5. Mr. Potato Head: Not only do they have to identify body parts, but you can also work on spatial concepts by describing where they go. For example: “His eyes go above his nose,” or “His hat goes on top of his head.”
6. Imitate animal movements such as “crawl like a bear,” “jump like a frog,” “walk like a crab,” etc.
7. Do cut and paste activities, sticker activities, or puzzles that label body parts.
8. Focus on “heavy work” (activities that provide proprioceptive input). This includes activities such as animal walks (donkey kicks, bear crawls, crab walks), deep squeezes/bear hugs, kneading playdough, and wall push ups. Incorporate activities that involve pushing/pulling/carrying heavier objects such as taking out the trash or pushing/pulling a wagon or cart with toys in it.
9. Do an obstacle course and incorporate spatial concepts when explaining the course. For example: Crawl under the table, jump over the pillow, walk between the cones, hop on your right foot.
-Marla Griswold, OTR/L