Gross motor development is critical to balance, coordination, and the connection to other body functions.
Gross Motor Skills – Definition
What do we mean when we say “gross motor skills”? When I think of gross motor skills or development, I think of the use of our big muscles. For example, legs and arms.
Gross motor skills are abilities that allow people to do things that involve using the large muscles in the torso, arms, and legs to complete whole-body movements.understood.org
Examples of Gross Motor Skills
Gross motor skill examples include the use of larger muscles. So, consider running, skiing, riding a bike, throwing a baseball, lifting a weight, climbing a rock, jumping rope, and kicking a soccer ball.
Movement, or physical activity, is thus an essential factor in intellectual growth, which depends upon the impressions received from outside. Through movement we come in contact with external reality, and it is through these contacts that we eventually acquire even abstract ideas.~ Dr. Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood
Gross Motor Skills Versus Fine Motor Skills
Gross motor skills refer to skills that use large muscle movements. Examples include walking, running, or climbing. Fine motor skills, on the other hand, use smaller muscles and includes movements such as grasping a pencil, object manipulation, and drawing.
Importance of Gross Motor Skills
- Health – obvious benefits of exercise to the body and mind, more specifically
- Confidence & Self Esteem – important in childhood, yes, but arguably a more important life skill
- Ability to Assess Risk – another important life skill, not only with physical well being but with taking risks in life with decision making
- Energy Release – physical, social, and emotional
- Brain Development – the early years lay the foundation of brain pathways for lifelong motor skills and aids in learning, especially learning skills that require advanced thinking and mental dexterity
Why promote gross motor development?
- Fosters Imagination through Story Telling and Active Play
- Encourages Problem Solving and Critical Thinking (e.g. how am I going to climb over this log?)
- Hones Risk Taking Skills
- Ignites a Sense of Awe and Wonder about the Nature World
- Better Sleep
- Happier Children
Gross Motor Skills Activities
- Check out the book The Brain Gym for loads of ideas for indoors and outdoors that focus on movement, using both sides of the brain, and crossing the midline
- Tree Stumps – the wind knocked down many trees in our area over the last several months. So we took advantage of the cutting and removing of the trees. Our stumps provide so much enjoyment to our sons. It is actually a little crazy how much they enjoy the very simple set up.
- Hiking – what better way to develop gross motor skills than to explore the natural playground?
- Rubber Tires – these are a new item for us. Excited to see the boys jump and explore through the course.
- Climbing Trees and Rocks
- Obstacle Course
- Yoga indoors and outdoors (we love these Yoga ABC Cards for Kids)
- Games like freeze tag and hide and seek are great for self-regulation work and brain development generally
- Purchase a customizable Play Structure (like our structure from The Kid’s Backyard Store!) fit your family’s needs & safety
“Since it is through movement that the will realises itself, we should assist a child in his attempts to put his will into act.”~ Dr. Maria Montessori
What activities develop gross motor skills?
The possibilities are endless! Here are a few ideas:
- Jump Rope
- Balance Buckets
- Bucket Stilts
- Use a Bosu Ball
- Ninja Ropes & Obstacle Course
- Martial Arts
- Playing with Balloons
- Scooters & Bikes
Our Play Structure
We searched for the perfect play structure and decided to work with The Kids Backyard Store, a company that designs residential and commercials play spaces. Not only are the sets beautifully made, but we also got to customize our play structure to include a rock wall, covered ‘treehouse’, trapeze bar, slide, and swings, and work with several wonderful, friendly installers.
These guys know what they’re doing (and let our boys ‘participate’ in ‘building’ the set, which was a cool experience in itself). We love the result. Our boys play on the structure every day. I highly recommend The Kids Backyard Store.
I have written many posts on Gross Motor Development:
- Montessori: Movement (The Brain Gym)
- Walking the Line
- Yoga Books for Children
- The Sensitive Period for Movement – Yoga
- Yoga Resources & Why Yoga is part of our Home
- Culture & Movement Activity for Kids
More About The Kids Backyard Store
The Kids’ Backyard Store offers Backyard Adventures’ full line of premium-quality cedar playsets. These modular play structures are built with the finest materials, including beautiful cedar, unique compression technology, and exclusive features & safety systems developed by Backyard Adventures.
Turn your backyard into the adventure of your kids’ life with themed structures such as the Treehouse Series, Peak Series, Expedition Series, and Explorer Series playsets, and of course, the finest Cedar Swing Set ever made.
Growing children require new challenges, so customize your playsets with many accessories, including swings, slides, rock walls, crawl tubes, and more. All of our cedar forts and swing sets are made by the most reputable play structure manufacturer around, Backyard Adventures.
The Kids’ Backyard Store also offers cedar sheds by CedarShed Industries and the finest in commercial play structures by PlayCraft Systems for apartments, daycare centers, churches, and homeowners associations.