Whatever the weather...Gross motor skill development

Our British weather can be unpredictable but there are activities to develop gross motor skills both inside and outside the house.
A motor skill is simply an action that involves using muscles, gross motor skills are movements using larger muscles.
Children need to develop good gross motor skills so that they can navigate the classroom effectively and participate in the range of activities on offer in a busy reception class.
Many of the following suggestions provide opportunities for more than just gross motor development.
 
Playing in the snow
At this time of the year playing outside in the snow is perfect, digging with buckets and spades, sledging, building snow sculptures and making snow angels.
 
Den Building
This activity only requires simple resources. The budding engineer can make use of blankets, sheets, pegs, boxes, bamboo canes, tent poles and tarpaulin; or try setting them off with a wigwam type structure of branches.
Den building supports fine and gross motor development, it promotes skills such as problem solving plus communication and language if they are playing with friends. It can strengthen creative and social skills. 
In a child’s imagination a den can be a magical castle, secret pirate’s cave, hidden bear cave!
 
Ball Games
Playing with a ball children can practise kicking, throwing, catching, aiming, rolling, bouncing, and tracking which all involve large body movements. These actions also develop a child's hand to eye co-ordinationSocial skills can be incorporated into play if children participate in simple games with a friend. Add challenge by playing games:
·        make skittles from empty plastic bottles, line them up and roll balls to knock them down

  • make targets from boxes, kick balls to hit the target
  • boxes with the tops open to aim and throw their ball into
  • draw circles on the ground to bounce and catch a ball in

Balloon Pat
Balloon Pat is a popular game that is often played at parties. The activity is to pat a balloon up in the air and the aim of the game is to keep it off the ground.
 
Riding Bikes
Children love to ride bikes and trikes because it gives them independence, a sense of achievement and lots of fun. It also builds their muscles and teaches them to co-ordinate their gross motor skills as they pedal, balance, negotiate pathways in space, steer around obstacles, stop and start. 
Choose bikes that your child’s ability level from three-wheeler trikes to a two-wheeled trike but no pedals, then a pedal bike with stabilisers and finally no stabilisers!
You could extend their bike and trike play by trying the following
·      Include dressing up clothes / emergency services / Pizza delivery
·      A tool box could transform the play into garage repair workshop
·      Make number plates for bikes
·      Set out an obstacle course to negotiate
·      A bucket of water and sponge could be a carwash
 
Dancing and Moving to Music
This activity can often be undervalued but children are developing their coordination, balance, concentration, cognitive abilities and practicing self-expression.
 
Above all have lots of FUN!