Large muscles are necessary in allowing your growing child to run, jump, throw, climb, and maneuver through obstacles. Gross motor skills cater to the development of muscles that allow for high-energy activities and active movement. Not only do these activities help form muscles, but they also do a fantastic jump at burning through pent up energy and making bed time a bit easier. With winter quickly approaching, consider the following activities that can be played indoors during the chilly months, so that despite the weather, your toddler can build up the large muscles necessary in their continued development:
The Floor is Lava: This classic game makes an obstacle course out of the existing furniture in your living room or bedroom. While honing in on your child’s imagination skills by encouraging them to pretend the floor is hot, untouchable lava, you are also encouraging the development of gross motor skills via jumping and hopping between furniture. Remember, the first one to touch the floor loses so the more jumping, bouncing, and careful maneuvering, the better.
Indoor Obstacle Course: There’s a plethora of ways you can set up your house to encourage your little one to move around in intentional motions. Obstacle courses that are attentive to gross motor skills will encourage children to run, crawl, balance, skip, and jump. Consider placing cones on the floor for your little one to weave in or out or perhaps place boxes or stacks of books on the floor for your child to step over.
Walk the Line: Set up a “plank,” a simple line for your child to follow, that asks them to walk one foot in front of the other. This balance beam activity doesn’t have to be high in the air to be effective. By maintaining balance, your child is activating large muscles and encouraging active thought and awareness of movements. Perhaps set up a path that goes throughout your house and even requires criss cross motions or movement around a curve.
Balloon Ball: Balloon ball is like volleyball but instead of a hard, leather ball, you and your little one can hit a light, soft balloon back and forth to each other. By tossing and hitting a ball, your child activates muscles needed in throwing and reaching a target. Just be sure to move any breakables out of the way! Keep the ball in the air for as long as possible and maybe even consider adding in a second balloon for more advanced little ones.
Freeze Dance: Let loose with some freestyle dancing. Crank up your little one’s favorite tunes and dance around to the beat. Encourage your child to “freeze!,” when the music stops, holding his or her pose in order to activate more muscles. Once the music picks up again, movement can begin once more.
Gross motor skills are necessary in the healthy development of your child. Tossing, running, and jumping are key skills that will make play time and every day movements more comfortable for your little one. Consider these five games during the upcoming cold so that gross motor skills can be developed year round.