Thursday, December 11, 2014

Rice, Duct Tape, Baggies--That's All You Need to Make a Weighted Lap Pad

Uncooked rice, quart-size ziplock bags, heavy-duty duct tape (and scissors).  That's all we need to make our own weighted lap pads.

These pads are intended for laps, not for use as blankets.  There may be latex in duct tape--ask the manufacturer for specifications if your student should not touch latex items.

Fill each bag with about 1.5 cups of dry rice.  Squeeze out the air and seal tight.

Turn over the sealed top of the bag once or twice, then place in a row--spaced about 1" between bags--on top of the sticky side of a piece of duct tape.

Cover the bag tops with another length of duct tape.  Try to keep the bags level; I'll tell you why later on.

Follow the same steps as above with another set of three rice bags.

It's time to wrap up both sets.  You can do this whatever way makes sense to you.  You don't want them to shift around after it's completed, although the rice may move around within the bags and that's fine.  Try to keep the grid symmetrical, I'll tell you why later.


One side is finished; now it's time to duct tape the back.


When you press down the duct tape across the width of the bags, be sure to go "down into the valleys" between the bags.  I'll tell you why later.

One side usually looks better than the other.  Choose the messy side to add some non-slip material.

This is shelf liner non-slip webbing.  It's optional.  Save your Dycem for more important non-slip needs.

Ready to go.


Some students have very short laps, or just prefer to fold up the weighted lap pad.  If you've left about an inch of space between the rice bags your lap pad will be easy to fold into thirds, especially if you shimmy the rice around a little while you're folding.  The more symmetrical you've made the grid of bags, the easier it will be to fold.

A grown-up lap with open lap pad.


And, now, with the lap pad folded into thirds.
If your teachers feel that using weighted lap pads helps their students with improving focus in class, try having a "Make It, Take It" session so teachers can learn how to make their own. 

These lap pads slip into pillowcases or old pillow covers and they are fairly waterproof.  Best of all--they're cheap!  About $3 each to make.  Use your best judgement for which students will safely use a weighted lap pad.  The finished weight may vary widely--there are some guidelines for weighted blankets (which this is NOT) but I haven't found definite guidelines for lap pads.  Make sure your student can let you know if they are comfortable using it.  If it's going to work for them, they're going to ask to use it after the first trial or two.

UPDATE 12-18-2014:
My "model" for the two lower photos above was very interested in the "whys" and "wherefors" for making the weighted lap pad.  She told me today that she dug a heavy pillow out of her linen closet and placed it on top of her abdomen to see if it would help her calm down at night and sleep better.  It did!

Wouldn't recommend this for little kids or adults who can't safely squirm away from under the weighted pillow, but it works fine for her. 

3 comments:

Brenda Burnett said...

You posted this just in time! I was going to spend my weekend crafting a fabric version of this. You just saved me a lot of time. Thank you!!

School System Occupational Therapist in Virginia said...

That's good news! Send me your photos, please!

FlamingoGirl said...

Thank you so much the in person tutorial you gave to our group of therapists this past week. We all had a blast making the weighted lap pads & I'm sure there are going to be some mighty happy recipients of the lap pads this upcoming school year.