Gross motor skills, sometimes referred to as large motor skills, are very important to develop in toddlers. These are the “bigger” skills that babies and toddlers develop naturally, such as rolling over, sitting up, walking, jumping, throwing a ball, etc. Gross motor skills go hand in hand with fine motor skills, for example, a child’s ability to control their arm movements will help them hold a marker to color or draw a picture.
As parents, we know that no two children develop at the same pace, and that both gross and fine motor skills develop over time as milestones. However, I wanted to share a few activities that I like to do with my toddler son to enhance and develop his gross motor skills.
1. Beach Ball Fun
Using a large inflatable beach ball, I encourage my son to push it around the room with various body parts, like only thumbs, only knees, nose, tush, etc. It takes a bit of modeling on my part, but he loves it! We often have music playing in the background, so I like to change the song when we change the directions.
2. Obstacle Course
I make various obstacle courses for my son to jump through using whatever we have handy- blocks, empty milk jugs, etc. He must jump over one object to get to another. I think of this one as an “achievable challenge”- I know his limits, so I only stack items as high as I think he can manage.
3. Masking Tape Games
I’m sure you’ve seen this one all over Pinterest. Masking tape is amazing! I’ve done a few different things with it and have many more in mind to try. Our successful activities- I taped the floor in a zig-zag pattern and had my son walk on it like a tightrope. Creating “hop scotch” with varying shapes that my son must jump from one to another is a great idea I got from Teach Preschool. Oh, and a spin on this one- once the shapes are on the floor, I take a soft ball and let him try to throw the ball on each shape.
When the weather permits, I like to take him outside to blow and pop bubbles. We even purchased a bubble machine this year that makes some awesome ones since he likes them so much! Unfortunately, life in the North East means it’s not currently prime bubble blowing time. To make up for that, we’ve started taking bubble baths for fun. I will blow bubbles for him to pop- he loves to poke them and clap them.
5. Marching and playing “Follow the Leader”
We put on a parade throughout the house, where he will either ‘play’ an instrument or show off a silly dress-up outfit. With Follow the Leader, he’s interested in doing whatever I do (touch my toes, shake my hips, do a silly dance, etc) and following me- so I like to create a funny path around the house- like crawling under the coffee table or walking in a circle.
Have any other great ideas for gross motor activities? Tell us in the comments!