12 Easy Gross Motor Activities For Toddlers and Preschoolers

Gross motor activities for toddlers are a great way to improve your little ones’ motor, balance, and coordination skills!

With the hustle and bustle of daily life, it can be hard to make sure our kids are getting enough physical activity. But, carving out a little time every week for gross and fine motor activities can really enhance your child’s development.

Gross motor skills involve the large muscle groups that help us make big movements. Some of these skills include walking, running, jumping, throwing, and kicking.

Luckily for us, most of these skills come naturally during playtime activities!

Gross Motor Skills Examples

As children progress through the gross motor milestones, you will see them develop more and more control over their movements.

Here are a few examples of basic gross motor skills:

  • Pushing and pulling toys
  • Walking on tippy toes
  • Walking up and down stairs
  • Riding a tricycle

While every child has their own timeline for development, it is important that we create an environment where our children can play and develop.

Importance of Gross Motor Skills in Child Development

When children don’t get enough practice with gross motor skills, they will learn how to run, skip, or jump on a very basic level. Without adequate practice, they won’t develop the confidence they need to truly master and feel confident with these movements.

Children who feel awkward when they run or jump will most likely try to avoid engaging in friendly games like hopscotch or tag with friends and peers.

A child who is confident with their skills is going to happily engage in these games and further develop their gross motor movements.

Getting your child to be active is incredibly important during these early stages. Even the World Health Organization recommends 180 minutes of physical activity every single day for children aged 2-4!

The 12 Best Gross Motor Activities for Toddlers

I know it can be a daunting task to try and make sure your child is getting enough physical activity every day, but I am here to make your life easier!

Here is a list of 12 gross motor activities for toddlers that can easily be done at home!

1) Simon Says

There are so many fun Simon says commands that can help your child develop. Simply call out actions like “Simon says jump!”, “Simon says run in circles!”, and have your toddler follow along.

I love this game because of how many skills it helps to develop! It is actually one of the best listening activities for kids!

2) Obstacle Course

Create an obstacle course in your living room using pillows, blankets, boxes, and other objects. This will challenge your toddler’s gross motor skills as they crawl, climb, and jump over the obstacles!

This is also a great way to help your child develop their vestibular system which is a sensory system responsible for balance and coordination!

gross motor activities for toddlers - balloon play

3) Balloon Volleyball

I don’t know a child who doesn’t love playing with balloons!

Simply blow up a balloon and hit it back and forth with your toddler. This is a fun way to improve hand-eye coordination and get moving. If you count the number of times you hit the balloon in the air, it can also be a great counting activity.

4) Follow the Leader

This classic game is simple yet very effective!

Have your toddler mimic the movements you make, like crawling, skipping, or hopping on one leg. This will encourage them to practice their gross motor skills.

5) Animal Walks

Challenge your toddler to act like different animals while they move around the living room. Have them crawl like a bear, hop like a bunny, or slither like a snake. Your toddlers can also choose their favorite animal and act it out!

This is also a great opportunity to talk to your child about the different animals to help further develop their language and communication skills.

6) “The floor is lava!” Game

I have to admit, this was one of my favorite games growing up!

My sister and I would work as a team to find anything within reach (books, pillows, blankets) to step on and try to make it all the way across our living room floor without touching the lava, aka the floor!

7) Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger hunts are an amazing way to encourage toddlers to actively move their bodies.

You can add items like a red toy, a round fruit, or a leaf from outside to the list. Not only does this help develop their gross motor movements, but it is also one of the best cognitive activities for kids!

As they search for the objects they develop important higher-level skills like critical thinking and problem-solving.

gross motor activities for toddlers - hide and seek

8) Hide-and-Seek

Kids of all ages love to play the game of hide-and-seek!

This game can be played with another person, or with different objects if playing alone. As kids run around with excitement and joy trying to find the hidden person or object they are exercising those important large muscle groups.

9) Dance Party

Put on some upbeat music and have a dance party with your toddler. Encourage them to jump, spin, and move their body to the beat.

Action songs like “If You’re Happy and You Know It” or “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” are also really great ways to improve movement and coordination.

9) Hula Hooping

A hula hoop is definitely a toy that I would keep around the house simply because of how many different gross motor activities you can do with it!

Whether you want to swing it around your arm, use it as a “jump rope”, or make a giant rung toss, the play time activities with a hula hoop are truly endless.

10) Free Play

Independent play is a time that all children should have every single day.

I actually set aside time for my kids to do this daily because I know just how important it is for their development.

It helps build their confidence, promotes independence, enhances creativity, and so much more!

11) Relay Races

Set up a relay race with your toddler and other family members.

Not only is this really fun for kids, but it will also encourage teamwork and gross motor skills as they run, jump, and pass objects.

12) Hopscotch

Sidewalk chalk is a must-have for every household with kids!

Draw a hopscotch board on your driveway or sidewalk and have your toddler hop and jump from square to square.

This activity will challenge their coordination, balance, and agility.

Helping Your Child Develop Through Play

These gross motor activities for toddlers are a great way to help your child learn and develop through play.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money or buy expensive equipment or toys. All you need is some creativity and the 12 activities listed above.

Happy playing!!

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