Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Weighted Sensory Lap Belts

Being the thrifty teacher that I am, I am always looking for cost effective ways to supply my classroom with what it needs.  In this case, I needed sensory lap belts and found them online for $35-$50 each.  Don't know what they are?  They are a *lightly* weighted piece of fabric that drapes over a students lap to remind them they are supposed to be sitting.  They work on chairs and on the carpet, and do wonders for any sensory kiddos.  Well worth the effort to make, but not the money to buy (in my opinion).  Not when I can make 5 for the price of one.  Granted, I got REALLY inexpensive fabric since there was a fabric store closing near my house.  I am dying to make other things for my home out of the other fabrics I bought, but that may have to wait until Spring Break!

What you will need for this project:
  • 1 yard of fabric
  • storage size baggies
  • rice
  • thread
  • sewing machine
You will need to cut strips of fabric 15 inches wide.  Cut selvages off.  Lay fabric pieces on top of each other right sides together, and sew pieces together on the short edge using a 1/4 inch seam.

Cut strip to 52 inches.  This seems to be a good length for an average Kindergarten aged student.  I made a couple a little longer for first and second grades.   Next, fold in half the long way with right sides together, and sew 1/4 inch seam on long side only.  Turn right side out and place seam in middle of strip.  Press.

Fold short ends under 1/2 inch.  Press, then top stitch. 
Fold edges over 10 inches on each side.  Top stitch long edges.

Fill two storage size baggies with rice.  I used the cheapest rice I could find at the grocery store.  I sealed the baggie then taped it shut also.  Insert one baggie in each side, and sew it closed.

Voila!  You have your own version of a sensory lap belt!


  1. These are great and work much better than a lap pad, you can also get poly pellets from the fabric store like Joanns instead of rice, they are heavier than rice. My OT says they should equal 10% of the kids weight

    1. I had no idea about the 10% body weight. Thanks for that information! They have definitely worked well in the classroom.

    2. I think 10% is only if it's a full blanket, not the lap blanket, but I'm not entirely sure about that. Our "formula" for the blankets (also from our OT, but I'll bet the research is changing all the time) was 10% of weight + 1lb of poly pellets. I agree that the poly pellets are heavier than rice, but the same thing could be achieved by weighing out the rice to a specific weight.

  2. FANTASTIC idea! There are SEVERAL children in my daughter's class that could benefit from these. They are so super cheap to make (have everything in my house right now), that I could make a sample or two & offer them to the teacher. (I'm sure she'd need to ask the parents for permission, but it'd be a lot easier to have an example!) I love the idea of putting the rice in baggies so they are washable. I'm doing this TONIGHT! Thanks!

  3. I have made Elly her weighted sensory blankets. I like using the poly pellets because the whole thing can be thrown in the washing machine...and it's a bit more breathable than the plastic bags. This is GENIUS though for the classroom!!!

  4. Oh my goodness! It never occurred to me to make these. I just resigned from teaching, but for the last several years, I had students who really could have benefitted from a weighted belt. I love that you added the sensory aspect.

    Sharon @ mrs. hines class

  5. I am an OT student and making a weighted belt (from scratch!) is one of my projects from my Clinical Instructor. Your tutorial is a lifesaver! :)


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