Gross Motor Activities for Kids

April 8, 2024
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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For those of us in physical and occupational therapy, finding ways to blend fun with function in our sessions is key, especially when working with kids. Turning exercises into engaging gross motor games sparks joy in therapy and keeps our young clients eager and motivated to participate. This blog delves into five gross motor games perfect for physical and occupational therapists. These games are not just about having a good time; they're carefully designed to target and improve specific gross motor skills. We can make therapy sessions something children look forward to through playful yet practical activities.

1. Balloon Pop Obstacle Course

How? Create an obstacle course with balloons attached to various stations. Children navigate the course, popping balloons with specific body parts.

Gross Motor Skills Targeted: Balance, coordination, and proprioception.

Why/How: Balancing while popping balloons engages core muscles and improves stability. It also enhances coordination and proprioception as children use different body parts to burst the balloons.

2. Animal Safari Adventure

How? Set up an animal-themed obstacle course with crawling tunnels, hopping spots, and balancing beams.

Gross Motor Skills Targeted: Crawling, hopping, and balance.

Why/How: Crawling through tunnels develops upper body strength and coordination. Hopping enhances leg strength and proprioception while balancing activities improve stability and spatial awareness.

3. Sock Skating Rink

How? Create a "skating rink" using smooth surfaces and have children wear socks to glide across.

Gross Motor Skills Targeted: Balance, coordination, and leg strength.

Why/How: Skating mimics walking motions and challenges balance and coordination. The smooth surface requires controlled movements, strengthening leg muscles and improving overall stability.

4. Bubbles and Bopping

How? Blow bubbles and encourage children to pop them using different body parts — hands, elbows, and knees.

Gross Motor Skills Targeted: Hand-eye coordination, bilateral coordination, and upper body strength.

Why/How: Popping bubbles encourages controlled movements and precision. It's an enjoyable way to enhance hand-eye coordination and promote bilateral coordination by using both hands simultaneously.

5. Bean Bag Balance Challenge

How? Have children balance bean bags on different body parts while moving through an obstacle course.

Gross Motor Skills Targeted: Balance, coordination, and spatial awareness.

Why/How: Balancing bean bags on body parts like the head, shoulder, or palm challenges children's balance and spatial awareness. This activity enhances overall coordination and motor planning.

Incorporating gross motor games into physical therapy for children makes sessions more enjoyable and maximizes the therapeutic benefits. The five games in this guide target specific gross motor skills crucial for a child's physical development. PTs and OTs can adapt these games to suit each child's unique needs, ensuring a tailored and practical approach to therapy.

By infusing playfulness into physical therapy sessions, we create an environment where children are motivated and excited to participate actively in their development. Gross motor games bridge therapeutic exercises and enjoyable play, fostering a positive and collaborative relationship between therapists and their young clients. Ultimately, making physical therapy fun for children helps achieve successful outcomes and instills a love for movement and activity that will benefit them throughout their lives.

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