10 activities to help kids improve their gross motor skills
They’ll have so much fun, they won’t even know it’s good for them.
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Many children will develop the gross motor skills they need through regular play, but some need a little more encouragement to get moving.
When kids are running, jumping, playing catch, climbing or biking, they are also strengthening their muscles. Spring is the perfect time to get kids outside and doing activities that are fun and beneficial to their physical development.
Here are 10 activities to get kids moving while simultaneously strengthening their gross motor skills.
1. Take up skateboarding
Skateboarding is a fun way to build gross motor skills because it builds strength, balance, and coordination. It’s a great way to get around and many kids really enjoy the sensation of gliding through the air.
To take this skill even further, try a half-pipe from Keen Ramps. Going down a half-pipe requires coordination and strength while also providing thrills, making it a great choice for dare-devils and anyone who enjoys the social aspects of skating, even with limited space.
2. Try a motion board
Motion boards are a great way to work on gross motor skills while doing homework, reading, gaming, or watching TV because they require core strength and balance to keep the board in motion. Since motion boards rock back and forth, they are ideal for building gross motor skills in small spaces, or when it’s necessary to stay indoors.
The Grade by Fluidstance is a good, sturdy choice with a rubber base so that it can be used on any type of floor. It’s also a great option for kids who are reluctant to work on their gross motor skills since it can be used while doing other preferred activities. As a bonus, The Grade is made from mostly recycled materials and itself can be recycled.
3. Play water games
Anything that gets kids moving is great for building gross motor skills, and it’s hard to resist an activity that involves water. A backyard waterslide requires kids to run to get the most out of their slide. Even though kids may only run a short distance before hitting the slide they are motivated to do it again and again, which builds strength and endurance.
Another great water game that keeps kids active and building gross motor skills is the quick-fill Bunch O Balloons water balloons. These water balloons are so easy to fill since a dozen can be filled at once and they are self-sealing. This means kids can keep playing longer and really work on arm strength and coordination.
Another classic water game that gets kids moving is water gun fights. We're fans of Team Magnus Water Guns because they are much larger than most regular water guns, and the heavier weight forces kids to work their arm muscles.
- Get the Watermelon Aqua Ramp Double Waterslide at Target for $15
- Get a pack of 420 Bunch O Balloons at Target for $24.99
- Get the Team Magnus Water Gun at Amazon $24
4. Balance on a ball
Hop-Along Balls are a fun way to build gross motor skills by building core strength. Kids sit on a ball and use their legs to hop all over. Staying on the ball requires a lot of coordination and balance to avoid falling off.
These balls are made from a thick material and can be used indoors or out. The Hop-Along Balls come in three sizes and are very easy to deflate for storage. Or, leave one inflated in the playroom for an easy go-to activity available anytime.
5. Create an obstacle course
Creating an obstacle course can be as easy as putting up some colorful cones. These Best Buy Color Cones come in a pack of 10 and can be set up indoors or out. Inside, use them to create a path for kids to follow while you give them instructions to run, hop or crawl. Outside, they make a great way for kids to learn how to maneuver using a bike or scooter.
Arrange the cones in a zig-zag pattern and challenge your kids to run through them; ask kids to try to hop over all of the yellow cones; or ask your kids to weave through the cones while riding a bike or scooter to work on balance and coordination.
6. Hit the bike trail
Biking can be one of the best ways for kids to develop gross motor skills, since it involves building strength, coordination, balance, and endurance. Choosing the right bike is key since a too-large bike can make it hard for kids to control.
The Schwinn Sierra is a hybrid bike that makes it a great choice for riding on all types of terrain, everything from pavement to dirt paths. Designed with a shock-absorbing suspension fork and a seat with extra padding, it's also very comfortable. These features can make all the difference for a reluctant rider.
For younger kids, the Strider Sport Balance Bike 14x is a great choice. We love that this bike helps kids develop balance from an early age, and that it's designed to grow with kids. It can easily be adjusted for height and has an optional pedal kit which can be used to convert the balance bike to a pedal bike for years of use.
7. Bounce it out
Jumping builds muscle strength, but it's also loads of fun. Motivate your child to start jumping by getting them their very own bounce house—what kid wouldn't love that?
Bounce houses come in all sizes, but to get the most use from your purchase we like ones that can be used indoors or out. Look for a smaller size and be sure to measure your ceilings to make sure it will fit in your space. We like the Little Tikes Jump n’ Slide Bounce House because it’s big enough to fit two or three kids and has a small slide for extra fun.
8. Do some interactive yoga
Yoga, if done correctly, can help build important gross motor skills like balance, coordination, strength, and motor planning. A Chi Yoga Mat has strategically placed symbols to help ensure proper positioning. Each mat comes with access to both instructional videos and a poster illustrating poses, so there is little room for error. We love that the mats come in kid and parent sizes for building these skills together.
9. Stomp it out
Getting kids to jump is as easy as giving them a small foam rocket and base. Stomp Rockets are launched by running and jumping, both of which build strength and endurance. For an extra workout, launch the rockets up a set of stairs. We love that Stomp Rockets can be used indoors or out.
10. Start climbing
Climbing is one of the best ways to get kids to build gross motor skills because they have to use their arm and leg muscles to get to the top of the dome and back down again. The Plumb Phobos Climbing Dome gives kids the opportunity to develop strength, motor planning, and coordination right in their own backyard.
Like most domes, this one takes some effort to assemble, but once completed, it’s sturdy and can handle the weight of more than one child climbing at a time. We like that there is also plenty of room inside the dome for creating a fort or hanging upside down—a great core strengthener!
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.