By: Madison McClure, DPT
It is finally fall and we are all looking for an excuse to enjoy this nice, cool weather! There is no better time than now to get those kiddos moving outdoors!
Gross motor skills are those that require whole body movement and involve the large muscles of the body. The balance, coordination, strength, and motor planning required to perform gross motor skills are the same skills that allow your child to participate in activities from everyday tasks to competitive sports.
Here are a few ideas to keep your kids active and engaged while fine-tuning those essential gross motor skills:
- Fall Scavenger Hunt
- Search for different color leaves, a pinecone, a pumpkin, something smooth, something rough, anything!
- You are more than welcome to make your own or think it up on the fly, but there are great printable options available if you search “outdoor fall scavenger hunt”!
- For an added gross motor challenge, you can incorporate running, skipping, hopping, jumping, walking backwards, or any other creative way to move between items on your list!
- Fall Yard Chores
- A great way to get your kids participating in the yard work!
- Raking leaves, moving wheelbarrows, pulling weeds, or helping to plant flowers will all provide functional strengthening opportunities and beneficial sensory input for your child.
- Sidewalk chalk obstacle course:
- Bonus points for drawing pumpkins, spider webs, ghosts, or leaves
- Collaborate with your kids to make an obstacle course that includes hopping on one foot, spins, walking on a line, standing on one foot for 10 seconds, bear walks, jumping jacks, etc.
- Get creative, encourage kids to brainstorm ideas for the obstacle course with you!
- Animal walks:
- Take turns acting out/ guessing the animal!
- This is a great activity that encourages motor planning, coordination and total body strengthening.
- Hop like a frog, bear walks, crab walks, starfish jumps, bunny hops
- Catch or Two Hand Touch Football
- A wonderful activity to fine tune hand-eye coordination, endurance, and agility
- Bike riding
- Riding a bike is a great activity to improve balance, coordination, strength, and endurance
- If your child has a hard time propelling their bike, take the pedals off and create a balance bike to learn the basic skills first!
- If you are not ready for a bike, try a scooter! Encourage your child to push with one foot, and then switch feet!
Having difficulty getting your kid to participate? Here are some ways we have learned kids may act when they are having difficulty with gross motor skills:
- Avoidance or disinterest in physical tasks
- Rushing task performance to mask difficulty or fatigue
- Acting silly during a task they find challenging
- Telling others how to perform a task while being unwilling to actively engage themselves