Child & Family Development Child & Family Development

July 9, 2020

Gross Motor Activities – Outdoor Edition

By. Lindsey Sawyer, DPT

It is finally summer and a great time to get those kiddos moving outdoors! Without the consistency and structure of physical education at school, it’s important to keep your kids moving at home to maintain their gross motor skills. Gross motor skills are those that require whole body movement and involve the large muscles of the body. The skills required to perform gross motor skills are the same skills that allow your child to participate in every day age appropriate tasks such as running, jumping, or sitting upright at the table for a family meal.

Feel like you don’t have the tools or ideas to keep them busy? Here are a few ideas to help:

  • Sidewalk chalk obstacle course:
    • Create a course for your kids that includes bunny hops, spins, standing on one foot for 10 seconds, bear walks, etc.
    • Get creative, encourage kids to brain storm 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
  • Bubble pop
    • Blow bubbles and call out different body parts for kids to pop them with.
    • Encourages body awareness, motor planning and coordination. You can also add to the challenge by asking your child to stand on one foot while popping bubbles to encourage static balance skills!
    • Pop the bubbles with your nose, pop the bubbles with your toes, pop the bubbles while standing on one foot
  • Water balloon or ball toss
    • Encourages hand/ eye coordination, timing, and coordination. Great activity, especially for a hot day!
  • Water cup relay race
    • Fill a solo cup with water and carry it during a relay race – make sure you don’t spill any of the water!
    • Great game for balance, postural control, body awareness and motor control.
  • Bike riding is a great activity to improve coordination, strength and endurance
    • If your child has a hard time propelling their bike, take the petals off and create a balance bike to learn the basic skills first!

What do difficulty with gross motor skills typically look like?

  • 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
C&FD Note: This post was originally published on Charlotte Smarty Pants. We thank them for allowing us to share it with you. To subscribe to the Charlotte Smarty Pants Blog, click here