Gross Motor Skills

wooden pirate ship playhouse

What are Gross motor skills? Gross motor skills are the skills that allow people to do things that involve the use of large muscles. This includes the arms, legs and the entire body. Building strength in these areas.  Gross motor skills are what help with balance and coordination in the body. These skills are just as important as fine motor skills. There are many ways to help improve gross motor skills and increase your child’s confidence.

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Playground play for gross motor skills development

Playground Play

Taking your child to a playground will not only help to increase your child’s skills but also their self-esteem.  I have a big play ground in my back yard.  There is an 18 foot wood ship on the playground.  I make sure all the kids who are old enough to go up the plank and down the slide do so safely.  I take the time to teach them the rules and how to safely use the playground. They are so excited when they get to do what the big kids are doing. Before any of my kids start kindergarten I will take them to play on the school playground and show them how to play safely. I help to give them the skills they need to be successful and that gives me peace of mind. It is a win-win situation.

Riding Tricycles and Scooters

Riding a tricycle and scooter encompass both fine and gross motor skills.  It is a wonderful way to develop both. Riding and pedaling a tricycle uses the arm and leg muscles which help with gross motor skills. It requires them to work together to go in the direction desired.  The fine motor skills come in when the hand and eye coordination are being used to steer the tricycle.  Riding a scooter is an excellent way to learn balance. Using the legs to push off and steer at the same time.  Strider bikes focus on balance and coordination just like the scooter. 

Martial Arts

Martial Arts is a good way to develop strength in the arms and legs. Actions like punching, kicking and sparring work to develop the large muscles that are involved in gross motor skills.  Martial Arts also helps with balance and spatial recognition. Developing the whole body increases confidence and builds self-esteem. My son was born prematurely.  He had coordination and balance issues.  We enrolled him in Taekwondo.  It helped build muscles in his legs and torso and improved his coordination and balance. He went on to become a second degree Black Belt.

hopscotch as gross motor skills game


Hopscotch is a great way to work on gross motor skills and balance.    Hopping on one and both feet helps to build muscles as well as increase balance.  Hopscotch is fun to do with a group of friends or by yourself. Hopscotch is a fun activity to do outside or inside if you like. My four girls that live next door made one long hopscotch.  They had so much fun making it.  They added hopping and twirls.  There was lots of giggling going on.

Playing with Balloons

Playing with or trying to kick balloons is a good way to build skills and muscles.  Trying to catch a balloon makes a child have to move in several different directions. Trying to keep a balloon in the air would be another valuable way to build skills.  The jumping, running and zigzagging would be a great opportunity to do so. 


Dancing is great exercise and a fun way to increase gross motor skills.  I had both of my daughters in dance.  There was such a big difference from the beginning of dance to the recital at the end.  They developed the balance and muscles they needed to perform. It was a joy to watch.


Trampolines can be controversial. I would suggest, in the case of a young child, getting a small trampoline with a bar they can hold on to while jumping. It will strengthen their legs and help with balance.  When I was growing up I had a neighbor who had a trampoline.  We jumped for hours a day.  When I had my kids they had a trampoline.  I made sure they understood the rules and I was outside while they jumped.  The benefits that I and my children received outweighed, for me, the misgivings others felt about it.  Not only did they build strong muscles in all parts of their bodies but their balance increased too.


Running not only is great exercise but it’s also good to build gross motor skills.  Not only are the leg muscles gaining strength, so are the arm muscles when the arms are being pumped back and forth.  The whole body benefits from running.  Running reduces stress in the body and builds confidence.  I was a distance runner growing up.  I ran many miles and my coordination and balance benefitted from that. Most kids run every day so this is a common activity kids do together.  Whether they are playing tag or running through the sprinkler it all counts.

gross motor skills activities for toddlers

Obstacle Course

Obstacle courses are a great way to build all sorts of skills. Crawling, jumping, running, balancing, rolling and hopping. What a wonderful way for kids to have fun and develop their muscles while they are not even aware of it.  In the summer I loved providing challenges for my kids.  Obstacle courses were the most fun and I loved creating them.  My kids loved them and looked forward to them. When creating a course make sure there are different challenges to help build muscles and increase coordination.  Most of all, make it fun.

There are many opportunities to practice gross motor skills, whether you’re a toddler learning to ride a tricycle or an older child participating in dance or Martial Arts.  Gross motor skills play a role in the balance and coordination needed to do these things. It is important to develop these skills in ways that interest your child while having fun. If your child is successful practicing any of these skills they will help to increase their confidence and self-esteem. 

Gross Motor Skills