We all know how it goes – our children just can’t seem to stop moving, jumping, and climbing all over the place. You might’ve also heard that we should be encouraging them to keep moving around, but why is that so?
Gross motor activities for preschoolers are important for your kids to develop their bodies to be and later to be able to use fine motor skills. Practicing gross motor skills also helps children learn more about themselves and become a little more confident.
What are Gross Motor Skills?
Before we get into it, what exactly are gross motor skills? Gross motor skills involve full-body movements that mainly involve the larger muscle groups, like the torso, arms, and legs. Balance and coordination are part of it too. If you’d like, you can read this article about why gross motor skills matter.
Fine motor skills involve smaller movements using the wrists, hands, and fingers. They are equally important to develop. In fact, we have another post dedicated to fine motor activities for your toddler here. Children need to have good gross motor skills so that they can eventually start to learn how to make more complex movements.
But the main reason to give your kids a chance to stretch their arms and legs with some gross motor activities for preschoolers is that it helps strengthen their muscles. Our bodies do grow on their own, but actively developing gross motor skills is a part of a child’s development to be able to do normal day-to-day activities like walking and dressing up. Exploring their capabilities is also good for kids to become more self-aware and confident.
RELATED: Did you know that balance helps improve reading?
Some of the activities that support gross motor skill development include:
- Body awareness
- Crossing the mid-line
- Muscle tone
22 Gross Motor Activities for Your Child
I get that filling your children’s day with physical activity can seem complicated, but we’re here to help you out. This list of gross motor activities for preschoolers is full of great things for your kids to do in order to get active in different ways. We have a bunch of actionable tips to strengthen muscles and develop gross motor skills with your toddlers at home.
I’ve intentionally chosen activities that won’t need you to fill up your Amazon cart. We have easy gross motor activities that you can do with your children right now, using items that you probably already own. Without further ado, let’s get started!
Indoor Gross Motor Activities for Preschoolers
Sometimes we’re home all day, but kids just have a lot of energy that they need to get out. But there’s no need to worry because being indoors doesn’t mean you can’t let your kids move around a little.
Here’s a list of fun indoor gross motor activities for toddlers, preschoolers, and even older kids:
- Apple Scoop and Sort: Grab some apples, water, and a scooper. Sorting apples by color is a great gross motor activity for preschoolers that strengthens their arm muscles and lets them learn to hold a steady hand.
- Follow the Lines Toy Transport: I know that writing and moving your body are not typically grouped together, but pre-writing with colors is like a little secret mission. Here, your child moves left to right and sees lines like straights, zigzags, and curves in the same way that we form lines and letters. When we prewrite with colors and movement, we help our children make connections to the letters of the alphabet.
- Gross Motor Movement Cube: I can assure you that one thing preschoolers (and moms) need to do is MOVE. This is exactly what this movement cube encourages!
- Gross Motor Wooden Tracks Mini Golf: Regardless of the supplies, creative activities come from taking an idea and designing a product on your own terms. This indoor mini-golf course made with train tracks is right on track to innovative thinking and learning through play.
- Magnetic Tiles Bowling: Magnetic tiles bowling makes a legendary indoor activity for kids. Some days call for extra snacks, while others call for magnetic tiles bowling. Spoiler alert: this case calls for both! Because you know kids are hungry. All. The. Time. Gather that collection of magnetic tiles and get playing today!
- Pour to the Lines: This gross motor activity has children practice their pouring skills without making a mess! Water play activity is a hit and also introduces measurement.
- Preschool Color Hunt: Get moving with an indoor scavenger hunt! Read the colored word and find something to bring back to the table (this also makes a terrific early morning Breakfast Invitation).
- Primary Color Hunt: Color hunts are a bright and colorful way to engage young learners. I don’t mean to play favorites, but this primary color indoor hunt is just the best. Once my preschoolers were able to identify the colors red, blue, and yellow, this primary color activity was ON. I’m happy to be able to share it with all of you.
- Sticky Pumpkin: Watching your child’s expression as their hand sticks and slowly peels off the paper is wonderful. Sticky pumpkin is a fun fall activity to explore as you hopefully get to enjoy it from the sidelines.
- The Claw Gross Motor Grab: We all know children learn and play in various ways, and this indoor game for preschoolers is a hoot! When planning simple games, I like to touch on the different play categories and integrate various concepts that prepare our children for life. Kindergarten topics are important, but life skills are essential.
- Wooden Tracks Gross Motor Tree Farm: The boys played with the wooden train tracks for days. The only reason we cleaned them up was that I needed to walk without tripping over a track. Sounds reasonable in my books, but they begged for more!
Outdoor Gross Motor Activities for Preschoolers
It goes without saying that the outdoors is a great place for getting active!
Enrich your children’s outside playtime with these gross motor activities for preschoolers:
- Ball Bounce Reading Activity: Let’s retell one of our favorite Thanksgiving stories with this ball-bouncing activity to strengthen large muscles.
- Chalk Game for Outdoor Play: This outdoor game takes some chalk, a recycled box, and a driveway. The result is a simple game with a lot of laughter.
- Gross Motor Musical Color Scavenger Hunt: Not only did my two-year-old love this game but my four and six-year-old did as well. Grab some chalk and head outside. This is one of the outdoor gross motor activities for preschoolers that you HAVE to play!
- Hop the Lines; a Preschool Jumping Game: We were trying to teach our three-year-old how to hop, and he could use a little practice – I needed a toddler jumping activity. So we grabbed some painter’s tape (a personal favorite) and whipped up a fun game to improve gross motor strength!
- Outdoor Dice Movement Game: We have plenty of time to build up the necessary math skills. Preschool is the time to let your child play and discover new math concepts. A little practice with this game will give them some experience to take math to a higher level when they enter kindergarten.
- Outdoor Gross Motor Color Hunt: The outdoor color hunt is also one of the first activities we have ever played in this little corner of the web.
- Outdoor Water Tracks: Sometimes indoor toys need a change of scenery, which can also give kids a new way to play outdoors. This new configuration was exactly what we all needed – I got to catch my breath alongside my kids as they explored some physical sciences and engaged in a little problem-solving.
- Prewriting with Movement: Lately, I’ve had a couple of requests for writing activities. This gross motor activity for preschoolers is fantastic because it gets your child writing and moving. It’s a combination of prewriting movement magic and gross motor skills!
- Pumpkin Balance: We love a fun pumpkin activity! Even better? Outdoor pumpkin fun with sharing laughs to make this one a true winner! This fall activity for kids is a real blast.
- Run and Sort: Learn math outdoors with this color-sorting activity for toddlers! This outdoor math activity will allow your toddler to color, sort, get some fresh air, and move around! A winning combination for all!
- Water Bead Outdoor Races: Picture this: it’s close to bedtime, but nobody is ready. I am pretty sure you can relate. We decided to take a detour and release our jitters with water bead play. This time, the water beads weren’t for sensory play – we had a blast and moved around a lot with an outdoor race!
Helping Your Child Learn and Grow
Gross motor skills are essential for our kids to function and better understand how their bodies work. Gross motor activities for preschoolers will help them learn to control their muscles and give them the strength that they’ll need to go about their day-to-day routines. As children master simple tasks, they can move on to more complicated ones, improving self-awareness and confidence.
Activities on Demand
Want great ideas without the ads? Download these 20 hands-on learning games for kids.
Check Out These Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers!
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- Shape Graph for Preschool
- Shape People; Toddler Counting Activity
- 101+ Preschool Activities
Frequently Asked Questions
Gross motor activities include movements with large body muscles. They include running, skipping, crossing the mid-line, jumping, hopping, throwing, bouncing, balancing, kicking, and catching.
Examples of gross motor activities are balancing on a curb, jumping or hopping to different circles, hula hooping or kicking a ball. Toddlers and preschoolers have plenty of time to develop the large muscles in their bodies as long as we give them opportunities to do so.
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