7 Playful Gross Motor Activities Your Preschooler Will Love
Keri Wilmot from ToyQueen.com is an occupational therapist, toy expert, Dallas blogger and parent, who shares popular toy reviews, tips and toy unboxings.
Keri is a full-time pediatric occupational therapist. With more than 18 years of clinical experience, professionally Keri specializes in working with infants, young children and their families by promoting developmental milestones in clients' homes, in the public school system and in the community.
Over time it was clear that Keri had developed a talent for finding developmental toys that promoted a child's educational skills, in fun, natural and playful ways. ToyQueen.com and its various social media channels (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) were developed to be an online resource that reviews toys, games, attractions, events, movies, experiences and baby products for their developmental qualities, with the goal to help all parents and caregivers learn practical ways to play everyday with their children through unique products and experiences.
- Get active at the local playground
- Throw an impromptu dance party
- Role play your favorite animals
… See seven activities with the skills that they enhance at the end of this article!
As children turn 3, they leave toddlerhood behind and embark on their new adventures as a preschooler. Right before our eyes we begin to see our children display even more of their unique, playful, curious, energetic and independent personalities, as many put on their tiny backpacks and head off to school for the first time.
Preschool is an important experience that prepares children for Kindergarten. In preschool, even for just a few hours per day, children are exposed to pre-academic skills teaching them about colors, letters, numbers, and shapes. They practice the art of sharing toys and using their words to communicate their frustrations and feelings to friends and teachers. Pretend play skills can be seen as children cuddle and feed baby dolls or build towers of blocks that are crashed over by trucks and dinosaurs. Preschoolers use their hands in intricate ways to begin to color in the lines, cut with scissors, and even begin to write their name.
But aside from the academic, social and self-help skills preschoolers need for Kindergarten, there is another area of development which is very critical for success in the school aged years, and these are a child’s gross motor skills. A child who is engaging in gross motor skills is running, jumping, rolling, climbing, skipping, galloping and leaping to build strength and coordination.
“Solid gross motor skills are the foundation for so many other skills that children need while in school, especially at the preschool age!”
Did you know:
In order for children sit on the floor with friends during circle time, or in a chair at the table while coloring, drawing and writing without tiring, they need to have good core muscle strength in their back and stomach, which they gain from all of those experiences climbing up the ladder of a slide or using their muscles to push and pull their pretend play doll carriages and shopping carts?
By Kindergarten, a mature pencil grip is needed in order to hold crayons and markers to form and write the letters of their name. Can you believe that hanging from monkey bars, crawling around on the floor pretending to be a dinosaur, and climbing ladders on playground structures helps to develop the smaller muscles of the hand needed to hold a marker when writing their name?
Taking a short break, even just for 15 minutes, to run, jump, climb and play ball games, whether inside and outside, should not just be used to give children a break from instruction or technology, it actually helps kids learn to self-regulate, and re-focus their bodies and minds so they can pay attention to new learning activities!
Here are several ways to expose your child to gross motor activities to enhance their learning:
- Spend 15-20 minutes at a local playground, and with your supervision encourage your child to engage in more challenging balance, strength and coordination experiences such as climbing up ladders and cargo nets, hanging from monkey bars and maneuvering suspension bridges
- Having a hard time being consistent with gross motor play? Sign your child up for a martial arts, gymnastics, dance, swim or yoga class. Not only will they meet new friends, but they will be building excellent core muscle skills in a fun way.
- Preschoolers love to play outside at home or at the park, and enjoy ride-on toys like tricycles, 3-wheel scooters, and balance bikes, all which build strength and coordination.
- Have a budding sports fan? Kick a soccer ball around, run the bases at the baseball field, bounce a basketball or play catch with a large ball.
- Preschoolers love to sing! Songs that have motor actions associated with them like the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” or “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes” are great opportunities to improve coordination, follow multi-step directions and those wiggles out.
- For kids who really like to move, throw an impromptu dance party!
- Harness a preschooler’s imagination and encourage them to use their bodies to flap their arms and fly like a butterfly, crawl on hands and knees and roar like a dinosaur, hop like rabbits, leap as frogs, and slide and slither on the floor as snakes.