Outdoor summer activities are great tools for improving your child's Gross Motor Skills. Parents often ask: "What is the difference between Gross and Fine Motor Skills, and how do they impact on my child's ability to learn?"
Gross Motor Skills involve bigger muscle groups, like the arms, legs, feet, and torso.
Fine Motor Skills involve smaller muscles, like hands, fingers, toes, or lips.
All motor skills require a connection between the brain and muscles in the body. They require practice to improve and enhance coordination. Motor Skills usually develop sequentially. Gross Motor Skills usually need to be developed and mastered before Fine Motor Skills can evolve. Most children roll, sit up, crawl, then walk, before running.
Here are five fun, easy activities to promote Gross Motor Skill development. You can adapt where you and your child play these games according to your own seasonal environment.
- Take a "discovery walk" around your neighborhood, bike path, nearby park, or beach. Look for objects that are up in trees, building, or rocks, and things that are on ground level. Look for colors, shapes, and sizes. This promotes bending and stretching, as well as walking and running.
- Create an obstacle course with three or four objects in your yard. (Some example for obstacles are bases, hoops, tires, beanbags, etc.) Have your child practice running, jumping, skipping, and hopping around the objects. Increase the difficulty by running, jumping, skipping, and hopping backwards around the objects.
- Lay a Hula Hoop on the ground. Have your child stand about five feet away and throw a bean bag or block into the hoop. (You'll want an object that will not roll.) Once your child can do this easily, increase the distance by twelve inch increments. If starting the toss at a five foot distance is too difficult, start at three feet, and increase the distance in six inch increments.
- Hold a Hula Hoop vertically, and let your child toss a bean bag through the hoop, taking one step backwards for each successful toss.
- Hold a Hula Hoop vertically, and let your child kick a large beach ball, or other large, soft ball through the hoop. Take one step backwards for each successful kick.
In my next post I'll give you five more activities for improving your child's coordination, balance, and Gross Motor Skills, as well as having a great time outdoors with you!