Gross motor coordination skills are needed early in life and are exercised when children learn to crawl, walk and run. Healthy development of preschool gross motor skills assist the child later on when they are developing the more complicated movements needed for proper development of fine motor skills. Children who experience difficulties in gross motor development because of developmental delays or pure clumsiness, tend to struggle increasingly with fine motor development. Here some ideas to use at home or in the classroom to use with your preschooler.
Messy and Creative Fun
To add in a little learning session on gross motor skills when you’re outside, have a little fun with sidewalk chalk. Playing games like hopscotch help with maintaining balance and coordination. You can also allow the children to draw with the chalk themselves. Call out different animals and have the child draw the animal being named. Children that learn how to create drawings rather than scribble do great when learning to write and the easy manipulation of chalk when using it to write get them ready for drawing on paper.
More Outdoor Fun
You can incorporate this activity with the sidewalk chalk activity since they both require outside time. Outside activities are usually more fun and attract the attention of children more easily. For this activity you will need small water balloons. Fill up about 50 water balloons or so ensuring you have enough depending on your class size. Divide you class into two groups making sure the groups are even in number. Have the two groups arrange themselves in two straight lines directly across from each other as they will need to have a partner. Have the partners toss the balloons to their partner. It will take the children a few tries to get the general idea of throwing and catching the balloon properly so that is not dropped with every attempt.
Rather than the traditional game of water balloon tosses, this easier version will not disqualify a partner couple once the balloon is dropped but rather reward each set of partners for each successful toss. Small pieces of candy, stickers or other incentives can be used. This activity would best take place on a hotter day when children wouldn’t mind getting wet, though it is not intended to be a water balloon fight.
Another activity if you are using the sidewalk chalk is drawing different shapes such as rectangles and circles at different distances then having the children toss the balloons into them, aiming for the shapes as targets. You can use the two groups used for the water balloon toss and the group that has the most successful throws that make it into the target wins.
An Indoor Game
Kids love to play games, and often will request to play a great game that they’ve played and enjoyed in the classroom. A fun indoor game is similar to adult Charades but is a child version. Children can volunteer to come in front of the class and act out different animals by acting out the animal with different gestures and movements. The children can raise their hands and be called upon to guess which animal is being enacted. This game is referred to as "Guess What?" and quickly becomes a favorite with young children.
In preschool, gross motor development can vary. By becoming conscious of which activities can be used to develop skills, you can assist the child(ren) in your care and ensure that they are off to the best start possible!