Do you know what gross motor play is? If you have busy kids I am sure you are engaging in it daily – you might just not know that term.
Gross motor activities involve the whole body and big muscles of the body. Running, jumping, even sitting requires gross motor skills.
One of the BEST benefits of gross motor activities for busy kids is that it lets them get all of that fabulous energy out. So you can feel great about these activities – your little ones will be strengthening their gross motor skills and also burning up all of that fabulous energy.
So without further delay …
40 AWESOME Gross Motor Activities for Kids!
Indoor Gross Motor Activities
I placed these activities here because I thought of them first as something I would try indoors. However, I am quite sure that you creative mama’s out there could find a way to take these gross motor activities outside if that’s where you need to be.
Over Under is a fun game that is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers. Grab some kitchen chairs and let those little ones move! Plus there is a fabulous math exploration with this one too.
Swat the ABC Balloons. Grab a tennis racket or a fly swatter, pop those balloons on some string and tape them to the ceiling. Little ones will have a great time swatting and hitting those balloons.
Awesome Balloon Games. We love balloon games so much that I have in fact written an entire post all about the different gross motor play ideas we use balloons for at home. There are so many easy and fun ways to play with balloons.
Bean Bag Toss on the Stairs. Walking up and down stairs is a fabulous gross motor activity for little ones in itself. Add some beanbags (or rolled socks) to toss and you have one heck of a gross motor play day!
Pillow Hop, By Hands on as We Grow. Some of you may know this no-prep gross motor activity as Hot Lava; jump from one object to another without touching the hot lava (ssshhh! it’s actually the floor)! These kiddos uncovered so many different ways to get themselves from one pillow to the next while staying active the whole time!
Balloon Tennis, By Little Bins for Little Hands. This is such a simple and fun game for all ages, great for both indoors and out! Grab those fly swatters and serve those balloons!
10 Active Ball Games for Indoors (and out!), By Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls. I love how Frugal Fun has shared 10 simple, easy-to-prepare gross motor activities that are fun for a wide age range. These will surely keep your kiddos on their feet or rolling on the floor in giggles!
Frisbee Toss, By Hands on as We Grow. Are your Tupperware lids mismatched and sliding around in your cupboards, anyway? Why not give those poor little lids a purpose and invite your kiddos to compete in a fun lid frisbee toss? Then, if your child is so inclined…or if you bribe them…they can sort them by size and shape for you…who knows? It might just work?
Simon Says, Need I say more? Ha . . . see what I did there? You can sneak in a lot of learning into Simon says with rich commands like “Simon says jump on your left foot 3 times, Simon says touch the green triangle.” Add whatever rich commands still ensure your child is having fun!
Jump, Grab and Learn, By Hands on as We Grow. Write letters, sight words, shapes (or anything there is to learn) on paper plates or coffee filters and hang them from a doorway with string. Ask your kiddo to jump and grab the letter or shape that you name. You can just sit on a chair while you call these out though…maybe with a coffee in hand?
Dance, Put on your favorite tunes or find a children’s playlist on YouTube and rock out with your little ones. If you dance like Elaine, they really don’t mind…
Musical Cards, By Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls. Traditional musical chairs can be extremely engaging on its own, but Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls has shared an awesome gross motor activity for preschoolers that is both fun and educational! Place learning cards in a circle and have your children call out what they see when the music stops. Remove cards as you go if you’d like to ensure all cards get covered.
Gross Motor Dice, By Pink Oatmeal. Choose the gross motor activities your toddler likes best or use this free printable by Pink Oatmeal and build a simple set of gross motor dice! What a great way to keep everyone on their toes – literally! Once they get the hang of it, the pictures on the dice facilitate your pre-reading kiddos to play the game independently or with a friend.
Hopscotch Indoors and Out, By Craft to Art. Hopscotch is a gross motor activity with numerous benefits that never gets old! Craft to Art shares some great ideas on how to elaborate on this classic and bring it indoors!
Musical Storytelling, By Hands on as We Grow. Perhaps you need a break from the running, jumping and bouncing but the kiddos still need to be active. Have fun adding your own musical sound effects to a favorite story with simple instruments and household items. What a perfect way to keep their hands busy while reining in their focus after an active day.
Kiddie Workout, A great gross motor activity for the whole family is to engage everyone in mom or dad’s personal exercises. Whether that is yoga, stretches, walking, cycling or weight lifting, they will love watching and trying what you do. Challenge each other to “daring feats of strength, speed, balance and flexibility” and your preschooler will be developing remarkable skills without even realizing it!
Outdoor Gross Motor Activities
Again, many of these gross motor activities can be modified for indoors when taking the necessary safety precautions required in enclosed spaces.
Trampoline Games. If you have a trampoline outside, it is the ideal tool to use for gross motor activities! We love our trampoline and use it almost daily. Here I have complied a list of 8 fun games my little ones love to play on the trampoline.
Parachute Games, By Mom Junction. Using an old sheet to play some classic parachute games can really get the blood pumping and the giggles going. Don’t worry about not having a large number of participants; you can easily do a ball toss, parachute tug-of-war or merry-go-round game with 3 to 4 people
Classic Running Games, By Childhood101. Do you remember loving Tag, Hide and Seek, Red Light, Green Light or What Time is it Mr. Wolf? These classics can sound boring to us because they are so simple and we probably played them a million times, but remember that they could be very new and exciting in your child’s eyes! I know I can easily forget that sometimes!
Danglin’ Hula Hoops, By Happy Hooligans. Find a spot outdoors where you can hang a hula hoop to a rope and watch your children come up with their own imaginative ideas for active play.
Skipping Rope Fun, Skipping can be modified for a toddler or preschooler by simply swinging the rope from right to left without raising it all the way around. Tie one end of the skipping rope to a post or tree if you are lacking a third person. Here are some additional gross motor activities you can play with a skipping rope that don’t involve actual skipping. Kids of all ages can join in to these energetic, rhyming skipping songs!
Help in the garden, If you have a garden – or a garden of weeds – get your children involved in the process! Toddlers and preschoolers can help with planting, weeding, picking fruits or veggies, watering and more! Here I share some additional garden activities and tips for teaching our kids to grow their own food.
Sing Songs with Movement, What better way to get kids moving than through music? (Adults too! When those 80’s tunes come on…well, you don’t want to know) Some classics that come to mind are Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, London Bridges, The Hokey Pokey, Ring-Around-the-Rosie, If You’re Happy and You Know it and Tony Chestnut.
Boot Printing, By The Imagination Tree. Get a gross motor activity in your day and some art to boot (Ha! I am on a roll with these puns today…). Washable rubber boots plus washable paints equals big art fun, harnessed energy and a lot of learning!
Ready, Set, RACE!, And you thought we couldn’t make your life even easier! When you need a quick gross motor activity at your fingertips, just have a race! Any race! We recently came up with a crazy, fun list of race ideas anyone can enjoy!
Out on an Adventure Gross Motor Activities
Explore Your Community, Great opportunities for gross motor fun could be right outside your door! Go for a simple walk around your neighbourhood, climb equipment (and trees!) at a local park, visit a Splashpad, or splash and build sandcastles at a beach!
Visit a Farm, With the growing interest (ha! growing…) in organic foods and buying locally, you are sure to have a farm in your area that offers tours and a variety of learning experiences for interacting with their plants and animals.
Go on a Mystery Walk, Depending on your child’s age, interest level, and sense of the heebie-jeebies, make up a little situation that you are setting out to solve. You might say, “I heard there was a sneaky elf / a hungry monster / a silly monkey lurking in these parts and we need to find him before he scares all the neighbours / eats all the flowers / he switches all the toys in the store.” Point out random objects on your walk that could serve as clues – a stick, a candy wrapper, a ball, a misplaced grocery cart – and add them to your Mystery Walk story. Leave the ending open-ended or bring a stuffed animal along that could serve as the final culprit.
There you have them friends! A great big HUGE list of gross motor activities for kids. I hope you find a few activities on this list just perfect for you and yours.
Be sure to keep this post handy, as busy little ones could always use a gross motor activity or two (or 50!)
Thank you for reading friends, I hope you are having a fabulous day.