The development of gross motor skills is vital for all children in terms of their well-being and growth. When the gross motor skills of a child are rightly developed, it helps them and supports them in getting a better physical development, healthy growth, control of their fine motor skills, high level of concentration, and brain development.
However, when it comes to gross motor skills activities that will help your child in gaining better control of their gross motor skill, sometimes parents are faced with a lack of ideas or inspiration. But involving your child in these activities is highly important, starting right from the age of toddlers, as it will help them in getting a proper developmental curve as they grow up to the age of going to school.
Now, outdoor gross motor activities are quite easy as they come in the form of either cycling, walking, riding a bike, or kicking a ball. But when it’s raining outside, it can be hard to keep your young child occupied and entertained indoors through activities that are ultimately beneficial to them.
In this detailed guide, we will discuss what are gross motor skills, why is it important especially for toddlers and preschoolers to learn gross motor skills, and how you can improve the gross motor skill-set of your children. We will also provide you with a list of indoor activities that will help improve the gross motor skills of toddlers, preschoolers, school-going children, and teenagers.
So if you are a parent who is running out of ideas for indoor gross motor activities, check out our ideas below!
Indoor Gross Motor Activities for Toddlers
Let us explore some indoor activities that are suitable, fun, and entertaining for all toddlers.
We have compiled this list of indoor activities keeping in mind how quickly all the setup could be done and how easily all the supplies that are required for the activities could be gathered. The supplies needed for these activities could be found all around the house and the mess that is left behind is extremely minimal.
You can try all or any of these activities but need to remember that generally, toddlers do not have an attention span of more than twenty minutes. Therefore, whether you try these outdoor games or you come up with something of your own, your idea needs to be simple and the activity needs to be fun and engaging. Otherwise, your child will soon lose focus and interest.
A safe and encouraging environment is also essential for your child especially when they are using their own physiological faculties to make sense of the world around them.
So, let’s dive into the list:
Jumping Over Lines
When you have a roll of masking tape or painter’s tape in your house, you can create a wide variety of gross motor activities for your toddler. You can create different lines with them and as your child gets accustomed to the game, you can gradually increase the difficulty.
You can start with simple straight lines and gradually make it more challenging by adding squiggly lines or shapes.
All children love the idea of parachutes and you can create one very easily at your home. All you need is either a bed sheet or a soft blanket. When you recreate the parachute, you can put some of your child’s toys on the top, take that side of the bedsheet or blanket and give the other side to your child. With this activity, you can see how high they can jump to get their hands on the toys.
If you have an automatic bubble machine at your place that is great but if you don’t, the old school ones will work just fine to give your child ample delight in playing with bubbles.
When you encourage them to try and catch the bubbles, you will see how your child jumps and moves their entire body to pop a bubble.
Making a Road
It’s time for the masking or the painter’s tape again as with it you can create an amazing system of roads for your child’s toy cars. You can easily think out of the box and create a road around furniture and other obstacles to see your child crawl all the way around with their cars.
The larger the road, the more core muscle movement is required by your child to get all the way around.
Red, Green, Orange Light
Another simple gross motor activity to help your toddler focus on instruction and get acquainted with different colors of light! Simply give your child their toy car and tell them to move quickly when you say green light, move slowly when you say orange, and come to a standstill when the word is red.
This encourages them to stop and listen to the adult instructions.
Keep the Balloon in the Air
Just give your toddler a balloon and ask them to keep them in the air as much as they can. You will be amazed to see how much fun this game can give to your child as they will jump, laugh, and chase the balloon all around the room to make sure it does not touch the ground.
Catch the Balloon
Gross motor skills activities like throwing a balloon and catching it are an excellent way of improving the hand-eye coordination in your child. When you start the game, keep the distance between you and your child quite short at first but as they become involved in the game, you can eventually step further and further away.
If your child gets really intrigued by this game of balloon volleyball by hitting it back and forth. Even you will start enjoying yourself.
Indoor Gross Motor Activities for Preschoolers
Now, let us look at some of the activities that could help develop gross motor skills in preschoolers:
Hide and Seek with Toys
A slightly advanced activity and therefore, it is suitable for your child as they grow out of their toddler age. For this activity, you can use the toys and stuffed animals of your kids and hide them in different corners of the house.
Balancing Bean Bags
Another simple activity that involves inexpensive items and a lot of fun! If you do not have a bean bag, any soft item made of rice and cotton fabric is just perfect for this activity. Simply ask your child to balance the beanbag on their head.
Once they have mastered the skill by standing still, you can increase the difficulty level by asking them to walk around.
You can also get them to balance the bean bag on different body parts. It will give your child a good exercise in building their body awareness.
Walking on a Balance Beam
A simple yet highly effective activity of increasing core strength and improving body balance! All you need to do is use your masking tape to draw a straight line on the floor and ask your child to walk along it at their regular pace.
You can make it more challenging by creating different lines such as squiggly or zig-zag lines.
This catching game with beanbag is a level up from the game of catching balloons. Toss the beanbag in the air and ask your child to catch it in mid air. As your child becomes an expert, you can increase the distance between the two of you.
Another great activity to improve the hand-eye coordination of your child! You can either use hula hoops, an empty bucket, or a laundry basket and ask your child to aim and toss the beanbag into that.
Levels of the game could be increased by taking the target away and changing its vertical position.
Color Scavenger Hunts
This is a highly interesting and fun activity for your young child. You can either use different color crayons or objects and hide them in different corners of the room. On the table, you should have pieces of paper with different colors and the objective for your child is to find the right colored object and place them on the same color of paper.
This activity is not only great for gross motor, but it is also great to help children develop their visual tracking skills.
A classic activity of obstacle courses never gets old when it comes to gross motor skill activities for preschoolers! Ideally, a large area is suitable for this activity, but you can always think out of the box according to the space available to you.
Make sure that your kid has to crawl, hop, balance, and jump during this activity and therefore, include obstacles of all shapes, sizes, and forms in one obstacle course or many.
To increase the fun, involve your kid in making an indoor obstacle course as well! You can get them to place pillows in different places.
Move like an Animal
Be it a kangaroo, frog, crab, or snake – when you ask your children to move their bodies like these animals, it gets them thinking and involves their entire body in the process.
Jump, Hop, Skip
You can use some paddle pop sticks or paper plates for this activity. When you put the stick papers on the wall, you can ask your child to jump and get them for you. Or you can put one paper plate after another on the ground and ask your child to move around them either by hopping, jumping, or skipping.
Indoor Gross Motor Activities for School-Aged Children
By using your masking tape, you can make an indoor hopscotch board for your child in the middle of the floor and leave the area for your child to enjoy. As your children jump from one square to another, it will get their entire bodies moving.
In addition to this, a hopscotch game also massively helps in the development of gross motor skills.
To make it more challenging, you can get them to throw a beanbag on a number and they need to not jump on that square.
Balancing a Balloon on Body Parts
As your child gets older, ask them to balance a balloon either on the back of their head, back of their hand, or on their knee. This activity is great for improving the entire body balance.
Egg and Spoon Race
Another interesting game that will help in the development of balance! To make the activity more interesting, you can also draw a line using a tape and ask your child to walk along that line. If they drop the egg from the spoon, they again need to start from the beginning.
To avoid mess, you can replace the egg with a small tennis ball or table-tennis ball.
For this activity, you can create another course using different objects like plastic bags, cups, containers, or cardboard boxes. Your child needs to toss the ball and throw them in a container that you tell them to. This activity is great for improving the hand-eye coordination of your child.
You can start with throwing a small ball into a laundry basket. Later on, you can start throwing a ping pong ball into a bowl.
A simple activity to get your workout done and also involve your child in getting their gross motor movement going! As you do some simple exercises, you can ask your child to copy your body movements.
The Floor is Lava
One fun game to not just encourage out-of-the-box thinking but also, encourage different body movements! In this game, your child should not touch the floor as it is all lava and therefore, only use the furniture, cushions, chairs, and other objects to get to the opposite corner of the room.
This is another fun game that will improve the core muscle strength of your children. Use a picture card or an alphabet card to show the images of the alphabet to your child. Then ask them to bend their body or use their body parts to become that letter or shape.
You can also use the shape of different objects like airplanes, or animals like fish and ask your child to move like them.
Indoor Gross Motor Activities for Teenagers
Let’s look at some of the gross motor activities for teenagers:
Aiming for targets using a bowling ball is a great activity for improving gross motor skills. You can simply use some bottles and a soccer ball at home if you want to practice this activity.
Whether it is a dance class or you are at your home, moving your body with music has some great physical benefits. Be it gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination, balancing, or motor sequencing skills – dancing helps you in more ways than you can imagine.
Whether it is cleaning the house, taking out the bins or doing some small repairs and fixes of your home, involve your child into these activities. This way they will not just learn some vocational skills but also, will get a chance to work on the movement of small muscles in their hands and other body parts.
Consider what is appropriate for your child’s age and understanding of safety risks. It is important for adult to be present during these activities.
Playing a Musical Instrument
Musical instruments like piano, guitar, or any woodwind instruments for that matter are great in improving the gross motor skills of your kids. The added advantage is that you never know when your child will take interest in any instrument and might become a professional in the field.
Juggling is a tough act and therefore, it’s best suitable for teenagers who want to work on their gross motor skills and skills of hand-eye coordination.
If you think LEGO is only for kids and young children, you will be making a grave mistake. If you want to encourage out-of-the-box thinking, imagination, focus, and concentration in your teenager, you can buy them an advanced LEGO kit that comes with thousands of pieces. You will be surprised to see how interesting the game could become for your kid.
We love to over-deliver, so here is a 30th gross motor activity, crawl tunnels. In fact, we have an entire article on the benefits of crawl tunnels for kids. Click the link to visit.
What are Gross Motor Skills?
The set of skills that require the movement of the entire body and also involve the function of the large muscles in the body are known as gross motor skills. When it comes to newborns and infants, the early signs of development of gross motor skills could be observed in many gross motor movements of theirs’ such as when the baby tries to lift up their head, tries to sit up without any help, or even tries to pull themselves up after falling.
These are all early signs of the development of the child’s gross motor skills. If the gross motor skills are not fully developed in a child, it can also affect fine motor skills like writing, brushing teeth, or picking up and putting down objects. All these skills require the movement and involvement of small muscle groups in our body but they all get affected if the gross motor skills of a child are not well developed.
Examples of Gross Motor Skills
Sitting, crawling, standing still, walking, running, hopping, and jumping are all examples of gross motor skills. For example, the activity of ‘Tummy Time’ is one of the earliest examples of activities that helped children in developing their gross motor skills of simply sitting and crawling. This activity helps in strengthening the muscles of the body that get involved in the physiological activities of sitting, standing up, and crawling.
Hand-eye coordination is another important facet of gross motor skills which is usually developed in a child through activities like throwing a ball, catching a ball, kicking a ball, etc. Cycling or riding a bike also comes in the category of outdoor activities that are beneficial for improving gross motor skills.
Why Gross Motor Skills are Important for Preschoolers and Toddlers?
Babies, infants, and toddlers require body balance, muscle strength, and coordination in the early stages of their developmental growth as this will not just help their bodies but will also enhance the sequencing and planning of their entire body.
Planning and sequencing of the entire body primarily mean the coordinated action between different muscle groups in terms of generating an idea of a physiological function, then planning or figuring out how to execute that particular action, and in the end, perfect coordination for the execution of the action as planned.
Planning and sequencing body movements are absolutely paramount for the young body of a child. As they grow up, all this early planning and sequencing will help them in carrying out the activities of their day-to-day life like eating, getting dressed, sitting on a chair, standing up, and using the toilet.
How to Improve the Gross Motor Skills of Your Children?
The activities that help children in improving and enhancing their gross motor skills are fairly simple and hugely fun and entertaining. Free play activities like running, climbing, rolling down, playground play, or even walking in the park, can help develop the gross motor skills in your child.
Another way to help your child develop these skill-sets is by playing games with them and getting involved in the fun of playing. In this way, you will not just build a strong bond with your children but also, will be able to guide them and help them in their activities.
Now, free play is the best option when it comes to outdoor activities and improving the hand-eye coordination of your child. But the best results are always obtained when parents bring a balance between outdoor and indoor gross motor skill activities. This is important as the outdoor option will not be available to a child all the time, keeping in mind the safety and security of your child.
No matter which option you choose, always remember that gross motor skills will help your child in having a better body balance, body awareness, agility, strength, and hand-eye coordination. As parents, you need to invest your time and energy in these activities for if the gross motor skills are not well developed in your child, the foundation of their fine motor skills will also be extremely weak.
There are a number of indoor gross motor activities that you can do with your children to improve their gross motor skills. The key is to be creative and come up with different ideas to keep them engaged in the activity.
With a little bit of effort, you can make the most of the time spent indoors and help your child develop physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Do not hesitate to take the help of a pediatric physical therapist or professional medical advice if you think your child needs professional help.
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Hands On As We Grow. (2021, December 25). Gross motor activities for preschoolers: The top 35! Retrieved May 10, 2022, from https://handsonaswegrow.com/gross-motor-activities-preschoolers/
Motor skills activities for teens. Understood. (n.d.). Retrieved May 10, 2022, from https://www.understood.org/en/articles/14-ways-to-help-older-kids-build-motor-skills
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