School-Based Physical Therapy Activities

Several years ago I entered the land of school-based physical therapy.  I honestly didn’t know what to expect just 2 years out of school. .  I was lucky, I had a wonderful mentor my first year to help guide me through my first year as a school based physical therapist.  Today, I want to share with you some of my favorite school-based physical therapy activities.  These activities are great for direct intervention and collaboration.

School based physical therapy activities and ideas. Fun core strength, balance, yoga, and more to work on functional skills at school.

School-Based Physical Therapist Intervention

Before we get started on talking about school-based physical therapy activities we must remember what our job is as a school-based physical therapist. According to federal IDEA guidelines, physical therapy in school is considered a related service.   A related services is provided to children in special education, primarily to ensure the child is able to participate in learning tasks. Related services are only required to the extent that the services provided are necessary for the child to benefit from their education.

Many school-based physical therapy activities may be utilized for teaching and training.  Different staff members that are great to collaborate with are physical education/adapted PE teachers, case managers, occupational therapists, and paraprofessionals.

School-Based Physical Therapy Activities

As school-based physical therapists we often work in several different schools (possibly districts) and don’t usually have our own dedicated space to work in.  Having ideas for small spaces is helpful.  Having ideas that are easy to use in collaboration with staff is very important as well.

School Based Physical Therapy Activities

Core Strengthening Ideas

Incorporating core strengthening into a students day may come in the form of directly working with the student, working with the students team such as an adapted physical education professional to put in place a program, educating staff on motor room ideas and resources for younger children and education on opportunities such as recess or tummy down time or stability balls in the classroom.  These are some of my favorite creative ways to work on pediatric core strengthening that can be implemented into exercise programs that are carried out by the team.  I also love kids yoga cards or posters for an area in a motor room or direct intervention.

School Based Physical Therapy Ideas Core Strength - Stability ball activities that use stickers. What a fun way to combine gross motor and fine motor. Perfect for occupational therapy or physical therapy!

It’s important to remember when working on core strengthening as a school-based physical therapy activity – what is the function we are trying to achieve?  Does the student need improved core strength to help maintain a seated posture?  What in the students educational environment requires that core strengthening be worked on?

Balance Ideas

Much like core strengthening, balance activities may be part of direct intervention.  Working on balance skills can easily be achieved in motor rooms (for younger kids), physical education/adapted PE programming, direct intervention, or programs carried out by team members.  Some of my favorite balance exercises for kids are these.  They can be adapted for a wide range of ages and populations.  Implementing ideas like kids yoga cards or brain break cards  are another way to work on balance especially in small spaces.

School Based Physical Therapy Activities - Balance

Like core strengthening, it’s important to remember what the purpose is of working on balance as a school-based physical therapy activity – what is the function we are trying to achieve?  Does the student need to improve balance so they aren’t falling while walking or ascending/descending the stairs?  What in the students educational environment requires balance to be worked on?

School-Based Physical Therapy Activities – Natural Environment

There are great areas around a school to work on activities.  Are there any hills around the school?  Hills and inclines are a great option for working on several different strengthening and balance activities.  They are also very helpful when working on learning to ride bikes/trikes/adapted bikes.   Read more about strength and balance exercises using a hill or incline.

School Based Physical Activity Ideas - Reverse Hill Walking

The playground is a great place to work on physical therapy activities.  This includes navigating uneven terrain and climbing.  Even walking around the edging on playgrounds (if available) is a great option for a natural balance beam already out in the environment.

School-Based Physical Therapy Activities In The Classroom

School-based physical therapy activities that can happen directly in the classroom will likely involve collaboration with the team.  There are so many great ways to add strengthening, balance, body awareness and physical activity into learning.  Alphabet based movement is easy with ideas like alphabet yoga poses for each letter of the alphabet or alphabet movement cards.   Number based movement ideas can easily go along with calendar time.  Even talking about the weather can incorporate movement with weather yoga and movement.  Even having kids move their bodies into different shapes can be done right in the learning environment.

School Based Physical Therapy Ideas - Alphabet activities! Alphabet yoga is an awesome way to add physical activity to your home, classroom or therapy. The kids are so engaged with each letter and it is SO MUCH FUN! Alphabet yoga is awesome for the classroom, morning meeting, physical education, PT, OT, SLP or at home!

School-Based Physical Therapist Printable Resources

Imagine how great it would feel to have all of your gross motor and movement activities  created and ready to use!  Not only would you have it all, but you could feel confident knowing that your kids (and you!) are having fun with physical activity and movement!  You will have activities to use year round.  You will have fun activities for your therapy sessions or when collaborating with the team.  You will never get bored with all the choices.  You won’t have to be spending time searching and creating your own resources, it’s all done for you!

The shop at Pink Oatmeal includes so many fun movement based resources that are perfect for school-based physical therapy activities whether working directly with a student or teaming with staff to implement a program.

Helpful Exercise Collections

Pink Oatmeal has a growing collection of exercise ideas that you must check out.  Click on each link to get video and picture ideas of exercises for strength, balance, body awareness and more!

Pediatric Core Strengthening Ideas

Balance Exercises For Kids

Upper Body Exercises For Kids

Ball Activities For Kids

School Based-Physical Therapy Activities Resources

There are several different free resources for school-based physical therapy activities resources available on the website.

There are a variety of different resources including brain break cards, yoga cards for kids, movement games, fine motor activities that you can implement with your gross motor, and much more!

If you really want it all with major savings- membership option ideal for school based physical therapists.  Lifetime access allows you to get any activity you could ever want for printable yoga, brain breaks, planning calendars and videos!


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