15 Energetic Gross Motor Activities For Toddlers

15 Energetic Gross Motor Activities For Toddlers

By the 12th month, babies can walk with support and even stand on their own (1). In other terms, they develop gross motor skills that involve the use of the large muscles or the entire body. And an excellent way to exercise their muscles and aid their development is to indulge them in gross motor activities.

In this article, MomJunction shares with you 15 gross motor activities for toddlers.

What Are Gross Motor Skills?

Gross motor skills are the movements made with the large muscles of arms and legs (2). These skills help a preschooler walk, run, jump, and throw an object. A gross motor activity aims at improving these skills, and aids in subsequent development.

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15 Best Gross Motor Activities For Toddler

1. Obstacle course

Obstacle course

Image: Shutterstock

This is an elaborate motor skill activity that little ones can play indoors. It works best for younger toddlers who are still crawling.

You will need:

  • A play tunnel
  • A few pillows or cushions
  • A small play tent
  • Colored paper
  • Chart paper

How to:

  1. Place the pillows one after the other on the floor, to make a path.
  2. At the end of the pillows, place a tunnel.
  3. Cut out some exciting shapes and silhouettes of animals. Paste them on the chart paper. Place the chart paper on the floor, at the end of the tunnel.
  4. After the chart paper, place the tent with baby’s favorite toys in it. Guide the baby through the course if he gets confused.

Gross motor skills developed: Crawling.

2. Leap over the box

Leap over the box

Image: iStock

Older toddlers would love walking around practicing their new-found skill – jumping!

You will need:

  • Five to six small cardboard boxes, such as shoe boxes
  • Paints and brushs

How to:

  1. Help the toddler paint the box – that will excite him a little.
  2. Next, place the boxes one after the other in a row. More the boxes, the better.
  3. Ask the child to reach the toy on the other end of the boxes by leaping over them, without touching them. When you say “Start,” the toddler jumps over the boxes, taking one step at a time to gradually move towards the other end.
  4. Once he collects the toy, he turns and goes back again over the boxes to the other end.

Gross motor skills developed: Standing, walking

[ Read: Best Indoor Activities For Toddlers ]

3. Pillow throw

Pillow throw

Image: Shutterstock

You can play this anytime, although it would be most fun right before bedtime.

You will need:

  • Six to seven small pillows
  • A laundry basket

How to:

  1. Scatter the pillows on the bed: some closer to the end of the bed, while some on the other end.
  2. The toddler starts on one end, picks a pillow and throws it into the laundry basket on the floor, close to the bed. The child can crawl or walk, whichever he is comfortable with.
  3. The toddler continues to move from one pillow to another until all the pillows are in the laundry basket.
  4. It is okay if the toddler misses his aim. Just let the child have some fun!

You can place the basket at a place where it is easiest for him to throw the pillows.

Gross motor skills developed: Crawling, sitting, and throwing

4. Cleaning up the room

Cleaning up the room

Image: Shutterstock

Did you know, cleaning up the room can be an excellent gross and fine motor skill activity for the toddler?

You will need:

  • All of the toddler’s toys and other household items
  • A laundry basket

How to:

  1. Scatter the toddler’s toys on the floor.
  2. Let the toddler walk into the room. Walk along with a laundry basket and ask the toddler to pick only soft toys. The toddler picks and drops them in the basket.
  3. After soft toys, you can ask him to pick other objects and items. You can place household items like plastic bowls, etc. and ask the toddler to collect them as well.

Gross motor skills developed: Walking, standing

[ Read: Toddler Memory Games ]

5. Walking the line

Walking the line

Image: iStock

Let the toddler develop his walking skills with this indoor motor activity.

You will need:

  • Colored ribbon
  • Cello tape

How to:

  1. Use the tape to stick the ribbons on the ground in straight lines that turn 90°, to form several other perpendicular and parallel lines.
  2. The toddler has to walk on the lines, with one foot following the other.
  3. The game is ideal for groups where you can have toddlers make a train and walk behind one other in a straight line.

Gross motor skills developed: Body balance while walking

6. Bubble through the loop

Bubble through the loop

Image: Shutterstock

Watching soap bubbles is even more fun when you have to guide them through a hula hoop.

You will need:

  • Soap bubble maker
  • Hula hoop

How to:

  1. Let your toddler hold the hula hoop and stand three feet away from you. Stand facing the toddler and make bubbles.
  2. The toddler then walks quickly from opposite direction to get as many bubbles he can through the hula hoop.
  3. Your partner or a sibling can count the number of bubbles that went through the hula hoop.

Gross motor skills developed: Coordination of various muscles of the body, movement-vision coordination

7. Play hopscotch

Play hopscotch

Image: Shutterstock

It is a classic gross motor activity game for toddlers, enjoyed even today.

You will need:

  • Sidewalk/Pavement chalk

How to:

  1. Draw a hopscotch grid (squares) of the desired number of boxes on the ground. Label every grid with a letter or number.
  2. The toddler stands on the starting point and jumps into a square of his choice. You can also instruct the toddler to jump on a particular number or letter.
  3. Labeling the grid with letters and numbers also helps the toddler learn them.

Gross motor skills developed: Standing, hopping

[ Read: Outdoor Activities For Preschoolers ]

8. Walk on the bubble wrap

What is more fun than bursting bubble wrap? Stomping them with tiny feet!

You will need:

  • Large bubble wrap sheet or multiple bubble wrap sheets

How to:

  1. Spread out the bubble wrap on the floor.
  2. Ask your toddler to go barefoot and take one step a time. The bubble popping under his feet can be exciting and encouraging too.
  3. Once he has walked enough, he can jump around on the bubble wrap making more bubbles pop.

Gross motor skills developed: Sensory feeling when moving

9. Pushing the toy

Pushing the toy

Image: Shutterstock

A push toy like a car or cart is the easiest tool for polishing your toddler’s gross motor skills. It is best suited for younger toddlers who have just learned to stand straight and are taking their first steps.

You will need:

  • A push car or a wheeled push toy with a sturdy handle

How to:

  1. Stand in front of the toddler as a guide to prompt him forward. Encourage your toddler to move forward using the push toy as support.
  2. Your partner can stand behind the toddler to support him, while also coaxing him to move forward.
  3. The toddler can also play this game with an older sibling who can walk.

Gross motor skills developed: Balancing the body while walking, Cruising – walking with support

10. Tricycle riding

Most toddlers own a tricycle and love riding them too. Here is an activity that you can try using your toddler’s favorite toy – his tricycle.

You will need:

  • Crayons
  • Several pieces of cardboard
  • Tricycle

How to:

  1. Let the toddler scribble his own illustrations and designs on the cardboard sheets.
  2. Once done, place them in a lawn or courtyard, leaving adequate space between two the cardboard pieces, to make it look like a track.
  3. The toddler can pedal through the track, back and forth to the two cardboards. He can also stop in between when playing with a group of toddlers to make the activity more engaging.

Skills developed: Vision-movement coordination

[ Read: Toddler Language Development Activities ]

11. Frisbee catch practice

Frisbee catch practice

Image: Shutterstock

A Frisbee is an excellent toy to make your toddler move around a bit.

You will need:

  • Frisbee
  • A partner

How to:

  1. Go to a park with a lot of soft grass. Make the toddler stand at a distance from you.
  2. Throw the Frisbee and prompt the toddler to catch it. Your partner can help the toddler catch the Frisbee if need be.

Gross motor skills developed: Running, object tracking and movement coordination

12. Musical chairs

Musical chairs

Image: iStock

Musical chairs are not just meant for birthday parties. They can be a great way to exercise a toddler’s motor skills.

You will need:

Several toddler chairs

How to:

  1. Place chairs in a straight line, with one alternating the other in direction. So if the first chair faces left the second chair faces right and so on.
  2. Toddlers run around the chairs in a queue for as long the music plays.
  3. When the music stops, a toddler sits on the chair closest to them. The one who does not get a chair gets eliminated. A chair is also removed with each elimination.
  4. As the game progresses, there are a few chairs and players left. The one who sits on the last chair wins the game.

Gross motor skills developed: Listening-movement coordination

[ Read: Toddler Alphabet Activities ]

13. Toddler ninja

Your toddler uses all his stealth skills to escape alarm string and reach his objective.

You will need:

  • A thick string like a rope
  • Several household objects

How to:

  1. Tie the string between several objects at varying distances in the room. Connect more objects such that there is a maze of high and low strings running across the entire room.
  2. The toddler has to cross or pass the strings without touching them and reach the other end.
  3. Wherever the string is high, the toddler will have to crawl under it. Places where the string is low, the toddler will have to step over it.
  4. The faster the child reaches the other end, the more the points he gets.

Skills developed: Multiple gross motor skills like crawling, squatting, walking, and stepping over things.

14. Dance and stop

Dance is always good to exercise the body and is also an excellent way to polish gross motor reflexes.

You will need:

  • A group of toddlers
  • A partner

How to:

  1. Play some music and allow the toddlers to dance any way they like.
  2. Keep changing the songs. Every time the music changes, the toddlers need to change their dancing style.
  3. Ask a partner to observe the toddlers. The toddler who has a unique dance style wins the game.

15. Roll the ball

Roll the ball

Image: Shutterstock

Rolling the ball around the house can be fun for a toddler who just mastered walking.

You will need:

  • A large exercise ball

How to:

  1. Give the toddler the ball and tell him that he has to push to roll it all across the home.
  2. He can push the ball or let it roll on its own.
  3. The game ends when he has rolled the ball to every room in the house.

[ Read: Shape Activities For Preschoolers ]

Gross motor skills developed: Pushing objects while walking

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These gross motor activities are not only fun but also help your toddler stay active. Exercise through play and games is an excellent way to strengthen muscles and hone them for subsequent development. Set an activity timetable, and start with these activities right away. Your toddler will surely enjoy them, and may also look forward to the next game with excitement.

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