Why do preschoolers need gross motor activities?
At this age, preschoolers are still getting the hang of using the different muscle groups in their bodies. Through fine and gross motor activities, the muscles of preschoolers need stengthening and practice. While fine motor skills focus on small muscles mostly in the hands, gross motor skills focus on large muscle groups such as the muscles in the arms and legs.
Preschoolers need opportunities to develop and strengthen the large muscles in their bodies. Similar to adults needing exercise to build muscle, young children need to run, jump, lift, and move to help build up their relatively new muscles. Physical activity not only builds up muscles but also strengthens the bones, ligaments, and tendons as well.
Body awareness and coordination
Through the movement of their arms, legs, and core, children learn to be aware of all parts of their body during gross motor activities. This movement improves their coordination as well as they learn to move multiple muscles at the same time. They are learning spatial awareness and how to better control their movements while still having fun.
Building healthy habits
Starting at a young age, kids can learn to love movement and physical activity. Encouraging physical activity now will help build that healthy habit as they get older. They develop a positive attitude towards movement and exercise that will continue as they grow up.
These are just a few of the benefits of gross motor activities. Not to mention, the activities tend to be fun and engaging while keeping children active. On top of all that gross motor activities for kids offer many of the same as exercise does for adults.
Preschool gross motor activities to try at home
Gross motor activities for preschoolers (or younger) don’t have to be elaborate. They can be as simple as running around, and there’s plenty of activities to try at home. Here’s a few of our favorite gross motor activities that you can try at home:
Preschoolers love pretend play as well as animals, so it’s not surprising they love acting like animals. Have your kids hop like a bunny or flap their wings like a butterfly. The possibilities are endless. Or you can get this animal movement dice that has all the ideas for you! The dice is extra fun because kids can roll it themselves.
This one can be super simple if your child just likes to move. Have them run around objects or race to a certain spot and back. We’ve found that if you ask them to run and grab a toy that works as well. Or tell them you’ll time their run. Then have them try to beat the last time. Another favorite at our house is to run and chase down the bubbles from the bubble machine.
Another simple but fun gross motor activity kids tend to love is jumping or hopping. They will enjoy hopping like a kangaroo or a frog. You can also set up specific spots to jump in and out of like hula hoops. Or it can be as simple as two pieces of tape on the floor so that they can jump from one spot to the other.
Another favorite activity at our house that you may not have thought of as a gross motor activity is dancing! All you have to do is put on some music, and let your kids move. Free styling dancing is great for their gross motor skills, body awareness, and coordination. Or you can choose songs with a little more structure, but still lots of movement. Some examples of these are If you’re happy and you know it, Shake your sillies out, and The hokey pokey.
If you’re looking for a gross motor activity that can be done inside as well as outside, an obstacle course is a marvelous option! When you put together an obstacle course you can use multiple of the other gross motor activities on the list. Include activities like jumping, crawling, and balancing.
Balancing activities can be pretty simple while still keeping your kids engaged. Try tapping a straight line on the floor for them to walk on. If you want a balance beam outside, we recommend just using a piece of wood on the ground. Our son even loves to balance by walking along paving stones.
Throwing and catching
Throwing and catching is a fun way to practice gross motor skills, coordination, and balance. At the beginning throwing will be much easier for kids than catching, so you can be the one catching while they throw. Or set up targets for them to throw at. Try something soft at first like squishy balls or stuffed animals. Young kids may need a lot of practice, but they will get it eventually!
Yoga for kids
Until recently, we didn’t even know yoga for kids was such a big thing. But now there’s resources for it all over the place. Cosmic kids yogas has tons of fun videos you can try! And yoga is a great gross motor activity you can do with your kids.
Bikes and pedal cars
Bikes and pedal cars are an exciting way to get movement that really focuses on coordination in kids. These may take a little longer to get the hang of compared to the other gross motor activities. But kids as young as two can start on a pedal bike or a cozy coupe using their legs to propel themselves.
There’s so many different gross motor activities for your child that will be engaging and fun. Kids truly just love to move. Remember to supervise your child while doing these activities and provide them a safe environment to do all these activities. Adjust the activities to meet your child’s needs and development level. Let them take the lead, and let them tell you their favorite activities!
What are some of your other favorite gross motor activities?
Check out more gross motor activities with balloons!
Here’s our entire list of the best balloon activities for kids that are all great for gross motor. Check them all out here.