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Gross Motor Skills: A Preschool & Toddler Guide

written by: Janelle Cox • edited by: Donna Cosmato • updated: 3/2/2012

Get your students up and moving with fun creative activites that will build their gross motor skills. Learn how to get your students using their large muscles by encouraging them to run, jump and play. Discover fun ideas to get your preschoolers up and going.

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    playground Gross motor skills are needed from the beginning of life. Children begin to use these skills when they learn to crawl and then walk and finally run.

    Developing gross motor skills is an important key to toddlers' and preschoolers' daily development. The best way to develop these skills are to use them. This can be done by encouraging your students to use their large muscles. The easiest way to do this is to provide activities such as running, galloping, throwing a ball, dancing or any physical movement. Anything that keeps your students moving will accomplish this task.

    In assist your students in developing their large muscles, create and provide activities that will give them the opportunity to strengthen their gross motor skills. Not only will it increase their muscle function, it will help develop their overall learning skills and create wonderful memories as well.

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    Gross Motor Development & Lessons

    Encourage your students to engage in gross motor activities by setting up areas in the classroom to encourage them to use their large muscles. Provide learning centers or play areas that include toys such as blocks or construction toys. They can build them up and walk under and over them, and then kick or knock them down.

    Display an area of textured indoor balls that they can roll back and forth or provide an empty box preschoolers can crawl in to and out of. Another fun idea is to keep bubble wrap so students can jump on it and hear the bubbles pop.

    Don't forget the traditional games that get your students up and moving such as "Duck, Duck Goose," "Head, Shoulders, Knee and Toes," and "London Bridge." All these games encourage students to get up and move their muscles.

    Some general tips to keep in mind when creating activities are:

    1. Activities should be short and brief.
    2. Keep activities age appropriate.
    3. Limit activities to small groups versus large ones.

    The articles below help you assess and improve your techniques for teaching your students to use their gross motor skills. Use this information to establish physical activity in your classroom.

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    Games

    Playing games is a fun way to get your students up and moving. Many toddlers and preschoolers love to run, jump and play games anyways, so providing activities that allow your students to do so is an extremely easy task. "Simon Says" is a game that you can teach to even your youngest student. It promotes physical activity as well as experience in how to follow directions and develops coordination and comprehension skills at the same time. Try this game with your students to see how well they perform.

    In addition to physical activity, teachers can have their students practice colors and shapes while using their gross motor skills. Have students throw a ball back and forth while saying the name of a color, number or shape. This encourages physical and reinforces prior knowledge.

    Here are a just a few of games you'll find featured in the articles below:

    1. Jumping
    2. Dancing
    3. beanbag
    4. Kickball
    5. Red Rover
    6. Balls

    . Use these lessons as they are or modify them to suit your classroom needs:

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    Activities

    Children can learn math, science, language and social skills through physical activities. They encourage movement and educate at the same time. Planning activities that encourage your students to get up and move as well as learn can be easy. For instance, just taking your students for a walk and discussing nature will have them use their large muscles and gain important information.

    Another easy activity that develops gross motor skills is to exercise while learning a particular skill. Try having your students do toe touches while reciting the alphabet or counting to 10. You can also have them spell their names or recite a song. Any of these activities promotes physical activity as well as encourages developmental learning.

    Here are a few activities that encourage gross motor development. Use as they are or modify them as you wish:

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    Outdoor Activities

    There are a plethora of outdoor activities that get students up and moving. The time of year or moderate weather does not matter because there are always activities that can be done outdoors. Taking the students to the playground will help develop their large muscles. Using chalk to create a hopscotch board or tossing water balloons back and forth are just two easy ways to encourage your students to get up and move.

    Next time it is raining or snowing outside try taking your students for a walk and play "I Spy". They gain knowledge while getting exercise. Anything that involves movement helps your toddlers or preschoolers develop their gross motor skills.

    Some of the activities showcased in the following articles are:hopscotch, water balloons, freeze tag, hopping frogs, obstacle courses, and alphabet or name ball:

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    Suggestions

    Remember to provide fun and engaging gross motor skills in your preschool and toddler classroom. Do you have any comments or questions you would like to share on this article or any of the ones above? Please feel free to provide a suggestion in the comment section below. We would love to hear what you have to say.

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