6 Active Games that Develop Gross Motor Skills in Your Child
There are so many activities we do as adults that we started working toward from our first days on the earth. Skills like running, kicking a ball, walking upstairs, and riding a bike are things we couldn’t have done without the work we put in as babies and toddlers to master those skills. By the age of 5, kids should be proficient at performing these skills to begin living an active, healthy life. If you want to help your toddler find success from the start, keep reading to find six active games that develop gross motor skills.
What are Gross Motor Skills?
Gross motor skills serve as the building blocks for using the larger muscles in the body, such as the legs, arms, and core. As children develop these skills, it helps them learn balance, coordination, hand-eye coordination. From birth, babies begin working on gross motor skills, such as lifting the head, rolling over, crawling, and walking. Yet gross motor skills must be learned to perform daily activities. Furthermore, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends infants and toddlers get 180 minutes of structured and unstructured play throughout their day, or 15 minutes each hour they are awake. The following recommendations are active games that develop gross motor skills that you can try at home and help meet all their needs.
Ball play is an outstanding way to teach children numerous skills. Plus, it’s so much fun! Catching and throwing a ball teaches hand-eye coordination in addition to spatial awareness, problem-solving skills, and balance. Pick up an assortment of balls, including large balls they can practice bouncing and small balls to they can hold and throw with one hand. As toddlers, encourage your child to kick the ball. These activities begin to build the large muscle groups in their bodies, which is important for a lifetime of health and wellness. The earlier you can give your child a ball, the sooner those muscles begin to build.
Make an Obstacle Course
Building a simple obstacle course for your child is a great way to help build their skills. Set up an obstacle course that challenges your child to jump, crawl, climb, and run. You want to help teach up and down, side to side, and even spinning movements. These types of active games that develop gross motor skills teach more than those skills alone. They also teach children coordination, problem solving, sensory processing, and adaptation. Use pillows, tape, chalk, rope, and balloons to get creative and challenge your toddler as they build their muscles and brains.
Play in the Water
One of the best ways to build major muscle groups is through water play. If you have access to a swimming pool, taking your child swimming is a great way to build gross motor skills. As a child kicks, splashes, and wades through water, those core muscles are engaged and begin to strengthen. You can also give your child a bucket of water or get a water table where they can squat, swing arms, and stimulate their minds. Water play is a simple, but effective way to set them up for a future of success.
Tumble, Jump, and Bounce
Encouraging bouncing and jumping is important as children build muscle strength. Bouncing, jumping, and tumbling also builds bone strength and teaches balance that is critical to growth. Great active games that develop gross motor skills includes mimicking your child’s favorite animals. Encourage your child to jump like a frog or hop like a bunny. You can also set up small obstacle courses that teach them to jump over short hurdles. Include a small trampoline to develop core muscles and to teach balance. And make sure to include mats or pillows in their play to help them learn to tumble safely.
Head to the Park
Playtime at a park is a wonderful way to help your child develop their major muscle groups. Playgrounds are stocked with equipment that is designed to stimulate and build core muscles. Swinging, sliding, and climbing are great activities to help build the trunk, leg, and arm muscles. Playgrounds also teach kids social skills and even challenge their fine motor skills. Allow your children to play on a see saw and merry-go-round to build core strength. Swings will build their leg muscles. Climbing and hanging will help build their arm muscles. And all of it will help encourage important skills they’ll need well into adulthood.
Dance to Your Heart’s Content
A great way to build gross motor skills is through dance. Put on your favorite music and watch your child sway, rock, raise hands, and bounce. These movements are great for building the major muscles in the legs, arms, and core. Your child will also learn coordination, special awareness, and creativity. Make this a fun daily activity that you share with your child. It’s a great bonding experience, too, as they see their parents make the movements they can mimic.
Let PALS Help Your Child Grow
If you’re looking for active games that develop gross motor skills, it’s likely you’re also interested in providing your child with the best care possible in their early years. PALS Praise & Leadership Schools is designed to build a foundation for your child so they can find success well into the future. Our innovative curriculum builds your child’s self-esteem and moral character and sets them up for a lifetime of success. Our students learn to think, reason, be responsible, achieve, excel, and communicate well before they reach their adult years. PALS Praise & Leadership Schools will recognize and exalt your child’s natural gifts. We’d love to show you how.
PALS offers two great campuses in Peoria, and both offer the same high standards of care for your child. To learn more, or to schedule a tour of one of our two facilities, contact us at our North Peoria campus (2327 W Willow Knolls Rd, Peoria, IL 61614) at 309-228-2505. Or call our Downtown Peoria campus (700 NE Greenleaf, Peoria, IL 61603) at 309-740-4463. We look forward to showing you the PALS difference.