10 Gross Motor Skills Activities to Get Things Moving in Your Setting

Big movements for creating big brains.

As cute as it is when little ones topple over, they’ll need to leave the “toddle” behind as they grow.

Gross motor skills control our ability to execute larger movements, and they’re critical for little ones learning to move around in the world. When we strengthen the pathways the brain uses to send messages to the muscles, we get greater balance, coordination, and the ability to manoeuvre our body well in its space.

Fine motor skills help children develop skills like neat handwriting or delicate tasks like threading a needle. But before they can develop fine motor skills, they have to develop their gross motor skills.

These activities are fun and energetic, helping children to stay active while they develop their essential gross motor skills.

1. Building with building blocks

Ideal for age 1-2 years

What you’ll need:

  • Large play blocks
  • A play area

How to do it

Encourage young children to grasp the blocks in their hands and together, you can find a purpose for them. Build a tower, create a house or even sort them by colour.

How it develops gross motor skills

Little ones have quite a balancing act to undertake when they’re building blocks. They’re practising to stand from a sitting position (since they can’t always bend down to reach the bocks). They’re gripping the blocks and purposefully coordinating their body to stack, sort, or build with them.

Source – Inspired Treehouse

2. Clean-up time

Ideal for age 1-2 years

What you’ll need:

  • Toys strewn about after playtime

How to do it

Softly and in a sing-song voice repeat the phrase “tidy-up time” and start to pick up the blocks and toys, modelling what “tidy up time” means. It’s not quite as fun as playtime, but it’s got to be done too.

How it develops gross motor skills

Children are skilled imitators. Seeing an adult bend to pick up the blocks and put them away will entice them to follow. For adults, bending is easy. For a toddler, the shifting of weight and balance takes practice. Doing this while they’re picking up and carrying blocks is challenging. They’re having to coordinate several different movements in their body at once, which strengthens their gross motor skills.

Source – Inspired Treehouse

3. Giant shape sorter

Ideal for age 1-2 years

What you’ll need:

  • A cardboard box
  • A hot glue gun
  • Some velcro
  • Scissors (or a knife – for cutting holes into the cardboard box)
  • Colourful balls

How to do it

Cut holes into the top of the cardboard box, sized slightly larger than the balls. Next, attach the velcro to the balls and the surface of the box, so you can keep them from rolling about. Show your little one how you can make the balls “disappear” by dropping them into the holes, and then add in the big reveal at the end — they’re all inside the box, ready for round two!

How it develops gross motor skills

This activity strengthens the connections between the brain and the larger muscle groups. Children have to think and plan and coordinate the movements necessary to get the balls through the holes and into the box.

Source – Pink Oatmeal

4. Throwing a ball at a target

Ideal for ages 2-3 years

What you’ll need:

  • A ball
  • An open area
  • The patience to wait for turns!

How to do it

Stand on one side of the open area you’ve dedicated to this activity and have the children line up and wait for their turn on the other side. Roll the ball to the child in front, varying that speed based on that child’s gross motor skill development. The children love to catch the ball and bring it back, before taking their place at the back of the line to wait for their next turn.

How it develops gross motor skills

This strengthens the sense of balance, the child’s ability to track movement and plan their movements to respond to the moving ball.

Source – Teach Preschool

5. Learning how to jump

Ideal for ages 3 years

What you’ll need:

  • A piece of tape, a cushion, a string, or anything else that can be used to jump over
  • An area that has no breakables and that can handle some jumping (and falling over).

How to do it

Place the tape, the cushion or the piece of string neatly on the floor to be jumped over. Mark the “target” on the other end, this is where the jumper has to try to land. Encourage the jumper to crouch deeply and jump as high as possible.

How it develops gross motor skills

Jumping is a coordinated movement and requires a good connection with the neurological pathways to land well. If you add more obstacles into the activity, like objects to jump over and a goal to jump to, it becomes a challenge that exercises muscle groups and their ability to follow the brain’s instructions.

Source – The Inspired Treehouse

6. Line balance activity

Ideal for ages 3-4 years

What you’ll need:

  • Tape (to make lines on the floor)
  • A plain coloured carpet or surface in a free space

How to do it

Using tape, lay down some straight lines, some squiggly ones, and some geometric ones. Have the children look at the lines, and think about how we use lines in our activities — like as a place to write our names.

Follow this with a game of follow-my-leader, with the leader hopping along the lines in a zig-zag. That means hopping this way and that way over the lines, never touching them.

How it develops gross motor skills

Carefully manoeuvring the body over the lines is a delicate business. It requires well-developed gross motor skills to plan and execute each movement with accuracy, and these skills come with practice.

Source – Teach Preschool

7. Hopscotch

Ideal for ages 4-6 years

What you’ll need:

  • Chalk
  • An open space

How to do it

Hopscotch is just challenging enough to really engage the 4 to 5 year age group. Draw the hopscotch pattern on the ground. The first person throws a pebble into one of the blocks – that person must hop through each block skipping the one the pebble landed in. You can also simplify this by removing the pebble and just focusing on jumping in the blocks, too.

How it develops gross motor skills

A fair amount of coordination goes into jumping to land within certain blocks, or using only a certain foot. Children have to plan their next jump with care and command their muscles to perform the movements to make it happen.

Source: Understood.org

8. Bubble play

Ideal for ages 4-5 years

What you’ll need:

  • Bubble mixture
  • An open space

How to do it

Catching bubbles is one of the highlights of childhood. Stand in a single spot in the middle of your designated free space and blow the bubbles at a reachable height for children to grasp at and chase after.

How it develops gross motor skills

Children have to calculate their position in relation to the moving bubble, and figure out how they’ll move to pop the bubble as it floats along. They’re running, jumping, and reaching with glee, developing coordination and an understanding of their position in space.

Source – Babysparks.com

9. Climbing for gross motor skills

Ideal for ages 5-6 years

What you’ll need:

  • Anything children can safely climb
  • If you have no climbing equipment, create a stack of pillows, use a fallen tree, or allow them to climb on a low but sturdy table

How to do it

Turn this into a coordinated activity that develops gross motor skills by setting a goal for the children. Have everyone take a turn to climb to the top of the obstacle and retrieve an item – it could be a ball, a snack, or a toy – the object is to reach the top and get the item before safely climbing back down.

How it develops gross motor skills

Children have to calculate their movements carefully, planning out how they’ll use their limbs to climb upwards. It’s a good way to help children be thoughtful and deliberate about their movements, thereby building gross motor skills.

Source – Pentagonplay.co.uk

10. Dancing for gross motor skills

Ideal for ages 5-6 years

What you’ll need:

  • Catchy and fun singalong music
  • A few great dance moves

How to do it

You can draw from classic favourites, like Hokey-Pokey. Demonstrate each movement slowly and clearly, singing along to the music as a pace the children can follow and enjoy.

How it develops gross motor skills

Dancing will build coordination skills in any age, and younger children will take to it with as much happiness as older children. From the age of 5 you can introduce some complex instructions, like commanding which leg to use or how to shake your arm. This is where the real gross motor development takes place, as children coordinated movements and how they relate to one another.

Source – Mothergoosetime.com

Learn more about Famly

Find out below how Famly transformed Coconut Nursery, and see what we can do for you in a personal demo.

“Now we’re using Famly it’s much more of a slick operation! It makes communicating with parents, invoicing, room planning and learning journals very simple.” – Katie, Manager
“Now we’re using Famly it’s much more of a slick operation! It makes communicating with parents, invoicing, room planning and learning journals very simple.” – Katie, Manager

Related Posts