Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.
Play is crucial in helping children develop good Gross Motor Skills. Here are five more activities that will help your four-to-six year old practice and refine these important Gross Motor Skills. All of these games can be played in ten to thirty minute blocks of time. An added bonus is the calories you burn, while having educational fun with your child!
To play these games you will need: A jump rope, a small Nerf or tennis ball, six different colored pieces of construction paper, and dice.
1. Lay a jump rope on the ground in a straight line. Have your child walk, heel to toe, on the rope. This promotes good balance and coordination. Once your child has mastered walking on the rope in a straight line, curve the rope into different shapes and repeat the activity.
2. Play a catching game with a Nerf or soft tennis ball. Start by facing each other, about a foot apart. Toss the ball to your child then he can toss it back to you. Each time a catch is made you both take one step backward to increase the distance. If a catch is missed, take one step forward to reduce the distance.
3. Have a "Scavenger Hunt" in your yard. Use six different colored sheets of construction paper. Cut them into familiar shapes like a triangle, circle, square, etc. Hide them in the yard in places where your child will have to climb under, over, or through things to retrieve the shape. Give a small reward for each shape found. This game can be played inside on a rainy day. (You can also hide small toys, stuffed animals, or other familiar objects if you do not have any construction paper handy.)
4. Use a single die. Pick an action, like jumping, skipping, or hopping. Choose a point of reference in your yard, for example a large maple tree. Your child rolls the die. She hops (or jumps, or skips) the number rolled toward the tree. Keep rolling and hopping until the object is reached.
To increase the difficulty, play with two dice and add the dots to determine the number of hops.
5. A favorite game that I played with my own children was a game we called "Animal Actions." I would choose an animal, for example a Kangaroo, and they had to move like that animal for a count of ten. This was a great way of practicing all sorts of motor skills, from jumping, hopping, running, to slithering!