Gross motor skills are movements that help children develop large muscle control in arms, legs and the entire body.

As a baby, your child learned how to raise her head, roll over, sit and finally stand by exercising her large muscles until they were able to support these skills.

As a toddler, it is important that your child keep exercising these muscles to enable her to run, jump, throw, climb, etc.  You can help your child by providing her with a large safe area indoors or out, in which she can move about freely.

Below are a number of movement activities and games you can do with your child to help her develop these important motor skills.

WAGONS – Provide your child with a small wagon in which he can fill and pull around the room or yard.
PUSH PLAY TOYS – Pretend lawn mowers or other push toys are great for toddlers.
CARDBOARD BOX – Toddlers love to push around a large cardboard box.
PULL TOYS – You can always make a pull toy out of stuffed animals or play trucks by securely tying a small rope around the toy.
STAIRS – Toddlers are beginning to develop the skill of walking up stairs.  Hold your toddlers hand and help her go up and down a small flight of stairs.
STAIR TOYS – Provide your child with a small plastic or wooden toy, that allows your child to climb up and then down.
LOW STOOL – Set out a small stool and help your child, step up and then step down.  Hold your child’s hand if necessary.
CURBS – Help your child step up and over curbs.
RIDING TOY – Toddlers need to learn how to climb on a riding toy and push with both feet to make it go.
TOY PONIES – Toddlers love to ride on toy ponies, pushing their bodies back and forth to make it rock.
LEG RIDES -  Cross  your knees and let your child ride on your leg as you raise it up and down.  Sing the song “To Market, To Market” while your child rides.
JUNGLE ANIMALS – Pretend with your child that you are wild animals crawling through the jungle.  Crawling is a great cross-lateral exercise that will help your child with it is time to learn how to read.
CRAWLING OVER – Set out some pillows on the floor and have your child crawl over the pillows.
CRAWLING UNDER – Set out a folding table or two chairs with a blanket over the tops of the chairs for a tunnel your child can crawl through.
CRAWLING UP & DOWN -  Find a small hill for your child to crawl up and then crawl down.
SNAKES – Show your child how to slither on the floor like a snake.
BODY ROLLING – Have your child stretch out straight and roll across the grass or down a small incline.
BODY BALL – Have your child roll up like a ball and try rolling down an incline.
BALL ROLLING – Provide your child with different sizes of balls to practice rolling across the lawn or driveway. Rolling balls down an incline is also fun.
BOWLING – Set out some large empty soda bottles and give your child a ball and let her try to knock down the bottles. This activity works best on a hard surface.
WALK ON A LINE – You can help your child improve his balance by walking on a line. Tape some masking tape on the floor for your child to walk on.
MARCHING BAND – Have your child follow you as you march around the room.
WILD HORSES – Have your child run with you around the room like wild horses.
GALLOPING HORSES – Gallop around the room like galloping horses. Have your child first gallop slow, then have him gallop fast.
DINOSAUR FEET - Have your child stomp around the room pretending to be a giant dinosaur.
WALKING BACKWARDS – Show your child how to walk backwards. See how many steps she can take backwards.
SIMPLE CHASE GAMES – Pretend to chase your child, then have him chase you.


JACK-IN-THE-BOX – Have your child squat down, then jump up like a jack-in-the-box. Sing the following song as your child squats down.

“Pop Goes The Weasel”

Down, down, down he goes. Down to the bottom. When someone opens the box Out pops – Jack!

TWO FEET JUMPS – Have your child try to jump with both feet off the ground.
JUMP IN THE WATER – Set out a blue blanket or rug and have your child run and jump in the water.
JUMP OFF STEP – Have your child stand on a step and jump down to the floor.
BEAN BAG TOSS - Fill small zip-lock bags with material scraps and let your toddler practice tossing them into an empty box or laundry basket.
BALL THROWING – Give your child small rubber balls to practice throwing as far as they can outside in your yard.
MINI – FRIZBEE’S – Give your toddler 4-5 small margarine lids (or other plastic lids). Have them try to toss them like Frizbee’s and see how far they go.
RING-TOSS – Set up a large circular ring, like a hula-hoop and have your child try throwing small rubber objects through the middle of the circle.
BUNNY HOP – Show your child how a bunny hops. Have him repeat your motions.
FROG HOP – Show your toddler how a frog hops. Have her repeat your motions.
SIDEWALK CRACK HOPPING – Go for a walk with your toddler. Encourage him to hop over cracks in the sidewalk.
YARD STICK Hop – Lay a yard stick on the floor and have your toddler hop over it.
ONE FOOT HOP – Show your child how to hold up one foot and hop using only one foot.
KICK BALL – Give your child a small ball and show him how to set it down and then kick it across the yard. Play a game where you kick the ball to him and he kicks it back to you.
BEAN BAG KICK – Using the bean bags mentioned in the Throwing section, have your child kick the bags as high as she can. See if you can catch the bags in a small bucket, when she kicks them up.
KICK THE CAN – Give your toddler a small empty coffee can with the plastic lid on top. Have her place the can on the floor and kick it , so that it rolls across the rug.
BOUNCE AND CATCH – Give a small (approximately 4”) ball to your child. Go outside to a solid surface, such as a sidewalk and show your child how to throw a ball down so that it will bounce back up for you to catch.
BOUNCE AND COUNT – Have your child bounce a ball and then count with you how many times it bounces before it stops.