Gross motor skills are the movements of the large muscles of the body. These activities will help to develop and improve gross motor skills

These skills involve the coordinated effort of the large muscle groups. Children with some medical conditions have poor or delayed gross motor skills, which affects balance and motor planning.

Children who have difficulties in this area may have:

  • difficulty throwing and catching a ball
  • balance problems when hopping and jumping
  • balance problems when using apparatus in gymnastics
  • balance problems when riding a bike
  • low muscle tone
  • good auditory memory skills
  • confidence as speakers and listeners
  • good verbal comprehension skills.

Order the book A-Z of Special Needs for Every Teacher for lots more activities and help.

Activities to develop gross motor skills
All these activities are general and can be used to develop gross motor coordination for most children in your class. However, some children may need a much more specific programme of activities. Occupational therapists and physiotherapists will need to assess the children’s needs and advise on particular gross motor activities to address each child’s specific difficulties.

  1. Dodgems – ask the children to run around in different directions, making sure that they do not bump into each other. They need to dodge out of the way of each other. You can make this game more difficult by calling out ‘Change’ so that they have to change direction.
  2. Stone cold – give each child a number, then ask them all to run around in different directions. If their number is called they have to stand still like a statue until the next number is called when they can move again.
  3. Stepping stones – using small hoops as stepping stones, ask the children to ‘cross the water’ by jumping from one to the otehr without falling the ‘water’.
  4. Hopscotch – children can jump to being with until they feel confident with hopping.
  5. Parachute games – ones that use the large muscle movements.
  6. Climbing activities – using a range of large apparatus.
  7. Balancing activities – using a range of both small and large apparatus.
  8. Brain gym – some of the suggested activities invovle the coordinated movement of some of the large muscles.
  9. Bean bag activities – a range of team games involving throwing bean bags at a target, or putting bean bags into a bucket, hoop, etc., or games involving kicking or throwing.
  10. Ball games – a range of games involving rolling, kicking, throwing and catching.
  11. Batting activities – a range of games involving the use of bats, sticks or racquets. These could be:
    • dribbling a ball around objects using a hockey stick
    • timing how long the children can keep a call in the air by batting it
    • putting aball into a specific position, using a putter or a hockey stick
    • paired games as in table tennis, racquet ball and short tennis
    • team games as in rounders, cricket and hockey.
  12. Skipping activities – individual and group skipping games (e.g. ‘Salt, mustard, vinegar, pepper’).

From A-Z of Special Needs for Every Teacher by Jacquie Buttriss and Ann Callander