Running, jumping and climbing – that’s what little kids are made of. And it’s all thanks to gross motor skills!
Between the age of three and five, kids learn how to do a lot of cool stuff. They change from toddlers to gallopers, become little kickers, master the art of hopping, and throw their weight around pedalling, ducking and weaving.
All these large, coordinated movements are called gross motor skills; and when kids find new ways to use their arms, legs, torso, head, feet and hands, a whole world of fun opens up.
So let’s get to it – here are 20 fun gross motor skill games, with some DIY projects along the way.
Running is one of the great gross motor skills. As they move from a toddling run to a full-pelt gallop, preschoolers’ legs start racing here, there and everywhere. Skipping is also a fun movement for little people and it works leg and smiling muscles!
Game: The run-around
In this gross motor skill game, one person gives an instruction, like “run to that tree, touch the bark and run back” and the others have to do it. This one gets tykes moving and listening, so it’s a win-win.
A kite is a fab gross motor skills DIY. Kids will hit the ground running and get wind in their soles with this homespun fun!
Between the age of three and four, preschoolers get a spring in their step. They learn how to jump along with two feet together, and as they get older, they can go further in a single leap and can jump more times in a row. They can also jump over an object, landing with both feet together – so give that sprog some space!
Game: Animal track jump
Draw some brightly coloured animal prints on the ground in chalk, then watch little joeys jump from one to the next, counting prints and naming colours. Yay. (via Modern Preschool)
DIY: Hula hoop
Hula hoop games are brilliant too, and a great way for active kids to practice their jumping (and hippie hippie shaking).
As they grow, preschoolers learn how to throw objects overarm at a target, and work up to more powerful and better-directed throws. Tossing a ball is excellent for hand/eye coordination, and rolling a ball underarm (bowling-style) is another skill to practice.
Game: Alphabet ball
Write alphabet letters on a beach ball, then get the kids throwing it into the air and naming the letter their fingers touch. Another idea is to throw (or roll) a ball between people and say the next alphabet letter each time it’s caught. (via Playdough to Plato and Bright Hub Education)
DIY: Dancing ribbon rings
This rainbow bright DIY looks gorgeous flying through the air. There are little throwing hands at the end of this one. (via Buggy and Buddy)
Younger preschoolers use their body to help catch a large soft ball, and as kiddos get older, they’ll master the art of catching smaller balls with their hand and grabbing a ball that’s been bounced to them. Boinnnnng!
Game: Balloon catching
Every day is a party day when there’s a balloon to catch. Blow one up and throw it to younger preschoolers for catching practice, or introduce a funnel to catch it with. (via Vanilla Joy)
DIY: Juggling balls
Clown around with homemade juggling balls for older preschoolers. The actual juggling part is a skill learnt later (if ever!) but these balls are fun to catch one-by-one. (via Kids Craft Room)
Climbing uses lots of different body parts, so slides, rope nets and ladders are great ways to hone gross motor skills. Little monkeys will be going up, down, up, down all day long.
Game: Eye Spy
Take preschoolers to a playground and play ‘Climbing Eye Spy’. For instance, spot a softfall slope and say, “I spy with my little eye something green and blue to climb up’. And off they go!
DIY: Jungle gym
Learning to walk in a straight line and balance on one leg is a tricky thing at first, but as preschoolers get older they get steadier on their feet, until they’re able to balance on narrower beams and stay on a moving platform. Arrr, me hearties, it’s time to walk the plank!
Game: Walk the line
Tape strips of electrical tape to the ground in straight and zig-zag patterns. Then challenge kiddo to walk along the ‘tricky tightropes’ forwards, backwards and sideways. (via Hands On As We Grow)
DIY: Tin can stilts
As preschoolers get their balance, they might be ready to move up, up and onto tin can stilts. These ones are easy peasy and so gorgeous. (via Playful Learning)
Another gross motor skill that requires balance is hopping, and preschoolers will be hopping mad (in a good way) when they get this talent.
This classic game is easy to whip up with some chalk and it sees preschoolers hopping all over the place. Get creative with this amazing space-themed version, or stick with a simple design. (via JrImagination)
DIY: Musical anklet
A bike is a brave new world for preschoolers and pedalling is a gross motor skill that takes them places. Once they develop their balance and pump those leg muscles, it’s the open
road path for littlies.
Game: Fun rides
Draw chalk lines that mini-riders have to follow, spritz tykes with the hose as they pedal past or set up an obstacle course with things to cycle around. (ideas via Kids Activity Blog)
DIY: Bike decorations
With their eyes on the road and their feet upon the pedals, a bit of bike bling never goes astray. These bike streamers and spoke decorations are awesomely customisable. (via Green and Gorgeous)
As preschoolers learn how to control their fast-moving feet, they also learn how to run around obstacles. Which means they’re ready for an exciting challenge – the obstacle course.
Game: Kid-created course
Collect items from around the house (like plastic bottles, buckets and balls), then get tykes to set up an obstacle course. Their time to weave through it starts…. NOW! (via Kitchen Floor Crafts)
DIY: Giant lawn matching game
This supersized outdoor game doubles as a cool obstacle course. Preschoolers will love navigating between pineapple and ice-cream pictures, then matching them up. (via Studio DIY)
Younger preschoolers learn how to kick a ball from a standing position, and as they get older they learn how to kick a rolling ball. Goal!
Game: K is for kicking
Depending on how much puff Mum has got, blow up lots of balloons and write a different letter on each one. Then call out a letter and kiddo has to find that balloon and give it a kick. Easy as A, B, C! (idea via Learning 2 Walk)
DIY: Pool noodle soccer game
All you need is some pool noodles, chopsticks or bamboo skewers, a ball and a little kicker. Preschoolers boot the ball through the ‘goals’ and the crowd roars! (via Tip Junkie)
FIND MORE: child development skills