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Games for Building Gross Motor Skills

By Sarah Thompson ; Updated June 13, 2017
Hopscotch helps children practice their jumping and balancing skills.

Gross motor skills are the skills required to work large muscles in the body, such as the arms and legs. These include balance, major muscle coordination and awareness of the right and left sides of your body. As such, gross motor skills are used for basic activities like running, walking, crawling and sitting. These skills are developed during infancy and early childhood, with most toddlers using these skills successfully by the age of 2. These skills, however, must be built upon, encouraged and practiced for successful development. Help your child develop his gross motor skills by initiating fun games.

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Navigate Obstacles

Obstacle courses promote the use of multiple large muscle groups, thereby practicing a variety of gross motor skills. These include running, climbing, jumping and crawling. Obstacle courses are versatile, allowing you to add, modify or remove obstacles easily as your toddler hones her skills. The courses also provide a variety of aerobic exercise and exposure to new vocabulary words, such as under, over, through and inside. Invite your youngster's friends to build her skills in social interaction, cooperation and taking turns. To build a course, predetermine a sequence of obstacles that children must take to reach the finish line. You can use playground equipment for this or items such as boxes, old furniture and other sturdy items. Guide children as they go through the course.

You're It

Tag is a socially interactive game that allows children to hone running and dodging skills. Furthermore, it's a versatile game, allowing for indoor or outdoor play. It can also accommodate any amount of players present. To play, have one child be "it." The person who is "it" will chase the other players in an attempt to touch them. Once touched, this child becomes "it" and must begin chasing the other children. Limit the area in which children can play for optimum dodging practice, but leave the space large enough for running practice. Play variations, such as having the kids run in pairs, holding hands or make a large chain and have one end try to capture the other end.

Hop Along

Hopscotch works your child’s skills in balancing and jumping. To start, outline several boxes on the ground using chalk or taped string and designate a start box and a finish box. These boxes should be in sets of one or two, with only one foot allowed in each box. Your child will go through the boxes you’ve set out, jumping in and out of them to reach the finish line while adhering to the one-foot-per-box guideline. Encourage other children to play for social interaction.

The Getaway

This activity helps children practice their running and dodging skills rather than compete. It requires no objects for game play, but you will need open space in which to run and several players. Have all children stand in the open space and designate the out-of-bounds areas all around them. Children will then begin running in different directions in an attempt to avoid bumping into other children. There is no winner and game play can end whenever desired. In addition, children who step out of the area are not "out" but rather placed back inside the designated area.

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About the Author

Sarah Thompson has been a writer since 2006. She has contributed to Ohio-based publications such as "CityScene" and "Dublin Life" magazines, as well as Columbus' top alternative weekly, "The Other Paper." Thompson has also written for several online outlets, including Smashing Magazine and Web Designer Depot. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism, sexuality studies and visual communication design from Ohio State University.

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