I have always been a strong believer that it’s very important for elementary school children to get exercise during each school day. However, it’s obvious that children don’t get enough physical activity at school because most (dare I say ALL) districts all over the U.S. continue to cut back on physical activity due to budget cuts. This is a shame because obesity is thought to affect one out of every six children in the United States. That. Is. Freakin’. SCARY!
Budget pressures threaten schools’ ability to provide opportunities for children’s physical activity but there is a way that we, as speech-language pathologists, can help. We can do our part to make sure our students are getting a few minutes of physical activity by consistently creating physically active speech therapy sessions. Here is one physical activity that my students love – speech therapy paper airplanes! All you need are a few pieces of paper, some markers, and a bit of knowledge on how to create a simple paper airplane.
Step 1 – Get ’em hooked!
I show my articulation students an example of a paper airplane that I created. Like clockwork, this always gets their attention. Then I stand up and throw my paper creation across the room. Almost instantaneously I’m bombarded with, “My turn! My turn! Can I try?!” I then inform my students that they are going to build their very own and we will have a contest to see who’s plane can fly the farthest.
Step 2 – Get ’em to write their words!
My students then pick out a marker and proceed to decorate their paper with as many words as they can think of that have their target sound in it. Together, we practice and drill the words at the word and sentence level. Once my ears are satisfied that they have produced a large percentage of their sounds correctly, let the folding begin!
Step 3 – Get your build on!
This is where the students get to exercise their awesome listening ears and their ability to follow multi-step directions. Follow the folding steps right, and within a few minutes, that boring sheet of paper covered with 15+ articulation specific words will now turn into a lean and mean flying machine!
Step 4 – Get ’em movin’ and flyin’!
I take the last 5 minutes of therapy to walk to the gym room (or an empty hallway) where one by one, we throw our airplanes. We then jog over to pick them up, do a few jumping jacks to make sure our arms are ready to try again. We throw the planes a few more times and mix in some more jogging and jumping jacks. It’s honestly such a blast!
In closing . . .
Have you ever done something like this before in therapy? Do you think that physical activities are valuable for our speech students? Have you ever secretly dreamed about being an airplane pilot (like me, haha!)? Give my speech therapy paper airplanes activity a try, and let me know how it goes. I look forward to hearing from you.