Gross motor is the use of large muscles within the body. Running, throwing, jumping, catching, balancing, coordination, and reaction time are skills under the gross motor umbrella. Look on to find a host of fun ideas for the classroom, outside during recess or fun play, and even at home!
1. Walk Like an Animal
The student chooses an animal and moves like that animal. The rest of the class has 3-5 guesses to guess the animal. To vary this activity up, have the students ask questions to identify the animal, the teacher calls out an animal and the whole class pretends to be that animal.
2. Freeze Dance
Play music for students to dance to and as it’s paused, have your students stop dancing. If you’re caught moving, you’re out.
3. Hop Skip or Jump
One student is in the middle of the room with all the other students scattered around them. The student in the middle closes their eyes and yells either hop, skip or jump and then they yell “FREEZE!” their classmates will do the action until the middle student yells freeze. The student looks to find anyone still moving. If someone is caught moving, they’re out!
4. Rhythm Leader
Everyone sits in a circle. One person is “it”. That person goes outside the classroom so they can’t hear or see. One person in the circle is named the rhythm leader. The rhythm leader stays in the circle and begins doing some kind of movement in rhythm, and the rest of the class follows the rhythm. The “it” person is called back in, they have guesses to guess who the rhythm leader is.
5. Follow the Leader
One adult or student is elected the leader. Everyone has to follow what they do. Make this activity fun by playing music as your students move.
6. Yoga or Dance Stretches
Doing a series of dance stretches or yoga moves is a great way to relax the mind, and gain strength, balance, and coordination! It’s a wonderful activity for helping your students develop their gross motor skills.
Completing an array of exercises in the classroom or on the playground is not only a great opportunity to give your learners a brain break, but also fantastic for developing their gross motor skills. Make use of wall pushups, wall sits, squats, lunges, wheelbarrow hand walking, or even skipping! Visit this website to learn more!
Learn more: Kids Health
8. Activity Maze
Draw a maze on the sidewalk or patch of playground using chalk or washable paint. Your students can follow the instructions as they progress through the motions- jumping, skipping or turning.
9. Obstacle Course
This can be as long or as short as you need it to be and involve as many elements of gross motor skills as you want. Here is a handy dandy developmental checklist to guide you in how you create your obstacle course for kiddos!
10. Ball Throwing Games
The PE specialist has this website that teaches you how to teach your students how to throw and catch a ball. The PE Specialist also has lots of ball-catching/throwing games for them to participate in once they’ve nailed the basics.
Learn more: The PE Specialist
11. Tag or It Games
Tag or It games allow children to run with a purpose. Some fun games include red rover, fishy cross my ocean, and Evolution tag. Click on each game for specific directions of each.
Learn more: CNE-SIAR, Allegheny College, The Genius of Play
12. Relay Games
Relay games make for great gross motor activities and they include a competitive aspect! There are all kinds of fun relay games your learners can enjoy such as egg races, Christmas ornament races, hula hoop races, and even sack races!
Learn more: Tip Junkie
13. Jump Rope
Jump ropes make for extremely versatile tools in the world of developing gross motor skills. Students can play games like Double Dutch or Hop the Snake to work on jumping under and over, dodging the rope, and collaborating with a partner to avoid touching the rope.
14. Classic Outdoor Games
Kick the Can, Traffic Cop, Four Square, Mother May I, Tag games, Spud, and Crack the Whip are all games on this website that practice gross motor skills. Students will develop skills like kicking, throwing, catching, bouncing, and running- all whilst enjoying time spent outdoors!
Learn more: Wired
Inside the House Activities
15. Walking/Crawling Activities
Crab walking, wheelbarrow walking, skipping, army crawling, balance walking, marching, running in place, sliding, and “ice skating” on the hard floor in socks or with paper plates taped over feet are all wonderful ideas to keep your little ones entertained and exercising indoors on a gloomy day.
16. The Floor is Lava
This activity requires you to jump, climb and balance from one end of the room to the other without touching the floor. Use pillows, couches, blankets, laundry baskets, or whatever creative aid your kids can think of to help them avoid the floor!
17. Paper Plate Round-Up
Place paper plates randomly around the room. Place a basket of small balls or stuffed animals in the middle of the room. Each person takes turns throwing the items and trying to land them on a paper plate. The more you hit, the better you get!
18. Zoom Around the Room
Say “zoom around the room and find something _ (red, soft, that starts with the sound /b/, an animal, etc.”. The children have to then run around and find an object that matches what was said. Use this handy checklist for ideas!
19. Hand Walk Pick Up and Throw
Have a basket a couple of feet away. Place a pile of objects in a circle around the person. The person does a hand walk down to a plank, picks up an object, and walks back up to a standing position before throwing the object into the basket.
20. Plank Challenge
This activity will get your learner’s abs all fired up! Get into a plank position with your back straight, butt down, and elbows on the floor or arms straight up. Touch one hand to the opposite shoulder and switch back and forth. Challenge learners to see how long they can keep this up!
21. Superman Delight
Have your learners lay on their stomachs with legs outstretched behind them and arms out in front. Instruct them to lift all 4 limbs and their head off the ground as far as they can and hold for as long as possible. Add a ball in to assist if needed.
Make your own bubbles by mixing equal parts water and dishwashing cleaner in a tub. For wands get creative: a hula hoop, a fly swatter, a cutout Styrofoam or paper plate, or anything else you can think of can be used!
23. Winter Activities
Build a snowman, go snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or build a fort. Snow angels, shoveling, snowball tosses, and snow castles are also great ideas to keep your little ones active throughout the colder months.
24. Climbing Or Hiking
Climb trees and setting out on a short hiking trail are wonderful ideas for elementary learners that focus on gross motor skills. These activities can be enjoyed year-round and will have their little muscles firing away.
25. Field Games
Who doesn’t love a day of fun outside play? Basketball, cycling, football, or baseball are fun games that your learners can play on the school field whilst developing essential motor skills like running, jumping, swinging, and throwing.
26. Playground Activities
Playground activity ideas really are endless and the perfect way to develop strong muscles and better coordination. Incorporate running, jumping, climbing, sliding, monkey bar activities, swinging, and more into your student’s day!
27. Balancing the Line
Getting your child to practice their balancing skills from a young age is very important. Start by challenging them to walk across a row of paper blocks before creating narrower and higher obstacles for them to get across.
28. Parachute Sheet
Have your students hold the outside of the bed sheet before placing a stuffed animal in the middle. The goal is to keep it on the sheet as the sheet moves up and down. Try adding more and more stuffed animals for a harder challenge. Check out this website for more fun parachute ideas!
Learn more: Mom Junction