Gross Motor Activities for Preschoolers
Children at this stage benefit from activities that get them moving whether indoors or in the backyard. This age is the perfect time for children to have fun as they run and jump as well as throw, catch, and kick balls. And since preschoolers have spent some time in a classroom environment, they also benefit from structured projects, arts and crafts, and goal-oriented play.
With the limitless possibilities, knowing where to begin can feel daunting at first. Fortunately, you can make gross motor development fun for preschoolers by starting with the following activities.
Top Gross Motor Activities for Preschoolers
Dance It Out
Encourage motor control and audio-motor integration using song and dance. Childhood favorites like “The Wheels on the Bus,” “I’m a Little Teapot,” “Dinosaur Stomp,” or “The Wheels on the Bus” are all great ways for preschoolers to work each of the major muscle groups.
Let your child pretend to be a favorite animal or locomotive (such as a waddling duck, trumpeting elephant, or flying airplane). In addition to pure imagination, you can also use prompts to encourage both vocabulary and movement. For example, your child can help decorate a giant box to serve as a robot costume, or you can purchase a few stick horses to play cowboys and corrals.
Push and Pull
Preschoolers are just the right age for classic childhood toys like red wagons, doll strollers, pretend shopping carts, or large toy trucks and trains. Help boost your child’s leg, trunk, and arm strength by encouraging them to push and pull these toys by the handle.
Master the Mini Trampoline
Under close supervision, preschoolers can have plenty of fun on a backyard trampoline. Whether climbing onto the trampoline or jumping with all of their might, this playground equipment is a great way to strengthen young torsos and legs.
Goal-oriented play like target practice is a good way to practice hand-eye coordination and increase upper-body strength. Play games like tossing bean bags, pom-poms, or soft nerf balls into laundry baskets.
Zoom Through an Imaginary Zoo
Preschool rhymes like “Let’s Go to the Zoo (And Dance Like the Animals Do)” are popular because they prompt children to flex new muscle groups. Using call-and-response, you can use an animal song to get preschoolers moving. Examples include:
- Fly like birds do (run with arms outstretched)
- Hop like kangaroos do (take big leaps using leg muscles)
- Climb like bears do (move about on all fours using core, arms, and legs)
- Slither like snakes do (wiggle on tummy or make “snake arms” outstretched)
- Waddle like penguins do (shift weight from one side of the body to another)
- Leap like frogs do (get down on haunches and hop or jump back up)
As you might imagine, this activity is also a great way to teach children natural vocabulary. And if your child needs a reprieve from heavy physical activity, you can also plan an animal art project using large sheets of colorful construction paper. Reaching for paper, folding shapes, and making large strokes with paintbrushes are jumbo markers can also complement overall motor skills.
Have Fun with Indoor Hopscotch
Using painter’s tape (since it is easy to apply and safe to remove from carpet), create a simple hopscotch pattern. This is a great way for preschoolers to practice balance and large movement while learning about shapes and numbers.
Plan a Scavenger Hunt
A simple scavenger hunt can encourage preschoolers to run, crawl, and dig for buried treasure. Hide stuffed animals in safe spots and be sure to have a goody bag to reward participation and good sportsmanship.
Get Animated with Alphabet Yoga
Since preschoolers have discovered the joys of learning the alphabet, put those letters into practice with full-body alphabet yoga. For example, children can make an “A” by tenting their arms above their heads or a “C” by curving arms to the side. If you need help making a letter, you can find simple A-Z cheerleading tutorials on YouTube.
Play Perennial Favorites
Activities like “Simon Says,” “Musical Chairs,” and “Mother May I” remain popular for a reason. Not only do they encourage listening and cooperative play – they are also a great way to move everything from shoulders to feet. For a little variety, use an indoor parachute to play fun group games.
For more information on gross motor activities or intervention services for preschoolers, contact The Warren Center.