Activities to Improve Gross Motor Skills


1. General Play- Encourage the child to engage in rough play indoors or outdoors which involves lots of running, jumping, hopping, skipping, tumbling, rolling, playing on swings, playing on monkey bars, riding a tricycle or bicycle, etc.
2. Organized Play- Some children need to be encouraged to participate in organized activities such as after-school sports, Boys’ Club, gymnastics, YMCA, summer camp, or programs offered by the recreation department.
3. Simon Says- Play this game in which the child has to copy the body posture of the leader. This game can be done with weights on the child’s arms and legs in order to give him/her more input on his joint movements and positions in space. Right-left discrimination can be incorporated by verbally requesting, for example, that the child lift his left foot. Positions that involve twisting at the waist, crossing over the midline of the body with arms and/or legs, and incorporating symmetrical and asymmetrical positions are recommended.
4. Twister- One method to teach right-left discrimination of body parts is through the game Twister (by Milton Bradley).
5. “Hokey-Pokey”- This game/song teaches the child awareness of right and left body parts.
6. Balance Beam- Encourage the child to walk across a balance beam with good control. Proceed to large steps, small steps, tiptoes, forward, backward, sideways, etc. A home version of the balance beam is a rope lying on the floor, which can be made to have curves and intersections.
7. Ball Play- The following activities could be done with a large ball at first, proceeding to a smaller ball such as a tennis ball or a bean bag. Throw; catch; bounce one or more times to another person; kick a stationary or moving ball; roll; toss-clap-catch; toss under leg-catch; bounce with one or two hands; bounce with alternating hands; bounce while walking; bounce with eyes closed; catch in a container such as bleach bottle with the bottom removed; throw in a basket or at a target.
8. One Foot Balance- Have the child balance on one foot to a count of 3, then the other foot. Increase the length of time required to balance. Try the same activity with eyes closed.
9. Hopping- Encourage the child to hop as many times as possible, increasing the number required each time as better balance and strength are achieved.
10. Skipping- Teach this skill by having the child step on one foot, hop on that foot, step on the other foot, hop on that foot, etc. with increasing speed. Encourage the child to be able to skip for fairly long lengths of time or in circles or other patterns without losing the rhythm.
11. Jumping- Have the child jump so that both feet land at the same time. Jump in a series of hoops; jump over objects or varying heights; jump in 180º turns; jump with feet tied together; broad jump; high jump.
12. Jump Rope- Have the child jump over a wiggly rope; a rope swinging back and forth; begin “in” with the rope turned by two people; jump in with the rope turned by two people; or jump rope while turning the rope himself/herself either with two feet landing at the same time or one after the other.
13. Jumping Jacks- Have the child jump so that the legs spread apart and the hands clap above the head and then jump again so the feet go back together and the arms go back to the sides. Do several of these in a row.
14. Duck Walk- Have the child walk with hands on hips and squatting low to the floor.
15. Crab Walk- Have the child “walk” on his hands and feet in a sitting or lying down position.
16. Seal Walk- Encourage the child to “walk” on his/her hands dragging his/her trunk and legs behind him/her.
17. Wheelbarrow Walk- Have the child “walk” on his/her hands while his/her feet are held for him/her.
18. “Other Walks”- Have the child walk on tiptoes; walk on heels; walk fast, slow, backward, or sideways; walk on stilts made of large juice cans with a rope through each can and held in the hands; leap frog; three legged races; etc.
19. Rolling- The child can practice rolling on the floor, carpet, snow, down a hill, up a hill, inside a barrel, etc. Rolling can be done with the whole body turning at once or, preferably, with a twist of the trunk so the head turns first and the legs last. Somersaults are also suggested.
20. Bouncing- The child may bounce on an inner tube, trampoline, or a bed and should be encouraged to hump high, low, symmetrically, asymmetrically, in standing, all fours, in sitting, etc.
21. Rhythms- Encourage the child to walk (march) rhythmically in time to music or handclaps. Or play rhythm games with commercially available records; or show the child a handclap pattern of 3-6 parts and have him/her repeat it exactly.
22. Obstacle Course- Put out a series of games for the child to complete in the sequence you establish and encourage him/her to complete the whole course (from memory). Suggestions are jumping over an obstacle, climbing up and over something, crawling under a low object, squeezing through a tunnel, sliding down something, rolling, hopping or any of the above mentioned activities. 
23. Crossing the Midline- Encourage the child to cross his/her body midline without having him/her to cognitively aware of what you expect of him/her. One suggestion is to have him/her walk along a line with legs crossed or crawl with arms crossed. Or have the child use just one arm and one leg at a time for ball games and throw the ball at the child so his/her right hand will have to go the left side of the body in order to catch the ball, for example. Discourage the child’s turning his/her body in order to avoid crossing the midline of the body.
24. Two-Handed Activities- Some children have trouble getting the two sides of the body to work well together. Suggested activities are as follows. Roll, throw, or catch a very large ball. Play parachute games. Roll out clay with a rolling pin and two hands. Hold a bucket-type of container with two hands and catch a ball in this. Volleyball- hit a ball or beach ball with two hands simultaneously. Hit a ball or balloon suspended on a rope from the ceiling in the middle of a stick (bat) held with two hands on either end.
25. General Exercises- Encourage muscle strengthening through exercises such as push ups, sit ups, chin ups, toe touches, leg lifts, arm circles, etc.

26. Adaptations- Most of the above activities can be adapted by having the child complete the same thing except fast, slow, forward, backward, sideways, with head turned to one side or the other, or with eyes closed.