Activities That Teach – #6 Crash Pad!

Do you have a kid who likes to smash into things? Does he bump, jump, and flop? Does she twirl and plop?
Then this crash pad will be a blast!

The crash pad is a large over-stuffed pillow for jumping, falling, and landing on. The purpose of it (yes there is one—outside of just plain fun) is to provide therapy for kids with sensory integration dysfunction. The jolt of landing on the pad provides deep pressure to muscles and joints. Rolling and leaping on the pad gives vestibular input. Rubbing against fabric provides tactile input.

What is sensory integration dysfunction and who has it?

Dysfunction of sensory integration (DSI) is when a child’s brain processes sensory messages from his body and environment inefficiently. For example, the child might be hyper-sensitive to everyday sounds, textures, and temperatures. She might not have a good sense for her own body and the space around it, making it harder to stay out of the personal space of others. Or her ability to understand what she feels and touches might be impaired. We see this disorder in children with Asbergers Syndrome, autism, ADD/ADHD, cerebral palsy, Down’s Syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, learning disabilities, and developmental delays.

However, any kid would love the crash pad!

This wonderful idea comes from the book “The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun” by Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A. It contains many terrific activities and I recommend it highly.


  1. Four old sheets
  2. Lots of stuffing in any form… old pillows, old cushion foam, packing peanuts, or buy your own foam at craft or fabric stores.
  3. Zipper, button thread, or Velcro for closure.


  1. Sew two sheets together on three sides, like a giant envelope.
  2. Stuff the giant “envelope” about 3/4 full of foam. Use old pillow filling, packing peanuts, old cushion foam, fluff from a fabric store, etc.
  3. Sew the fourth end together, sealing in the foam.
  4. Make a second envelope with the remaining two sheets, sewing them together on three sides.
  5. Stuff the first foam-filled envelope into the second.
  6. Use a zipper, button thread, or Velcro for closure.

I can’t make it because I don’t sew!

Yes you can! Just buy a duvet cover or futon cover at a discount store. If you can’t get a good price, explain that you are making a therapy item for a special-needs child. Ask if they could sell you a floor sample cover or an irregular cover for a discounted price.


  • Clear a space and always provide adult supervision.
  • Take turns jumping into the crash pad.
  • Fall stiff like a cut tree falling.
  • Lay into it and sink…watch a movie.
  • Try to “roll” in it… it’s not so easy, is it?
  • Catch a ball and fall into the crash pad!