Children are made to move! Their bodies require movement to help them with both physical and brain development. Gross motor activities for older children are essential because they often don’t get as much opportunity to move during the day as they should.
The gross motor activity ideas listed in this article are perfect for ensuring that your child has adequate time for physical movement. Check online or with your local YMCA to see where your child can sign up for any of these fun activities.
Benefits of Gross Motor Activities
- Cardiovascular exercise
- Muscle tone
- Core strength
- Stress Management
Gross Motor Activities
1) Team sports
These common team sports are all wonderful options for gross motor development and there is most likely an option for your child to play locally. The benefits of playing team sports are numerous ranging from physical to emotional.
The remainder of this article will discuss the benefits of other activities and sports that your child might also be interested in trying out.
Gymnastic exercises include running, tumbling, jumping, somersaulting, flipping and balancing. It began in ancient Greece and was one of the first sports in the Olympics.
Activities included in gymnastics are floor exercise, balance beam, uneven bars, high bar, parallel bars, rings, vault and pommel horse.
Visit Mom Junction.com for more insight on the benefits of gymnastics as well as games and activities related to gymnastics.
3) Dance or Ballet
The best benefit of this gross motor activity is that it encourages and demands good posture.
Children who learn good posture will not only carry themselves well their whole life, they will not have as many back problems as they get older.
Most towns have dance studios where kids can learn how to dance.
Learn about 25 benefits of dance you may never have considered before.
Yoga is an amazing way for your children to improve flexibility and relieve stress. You can most likely find kid’s yoga classes near you.
If you want to implement yoga into your routine at home so your whole family can benefit, check out Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube.
Our family has tried this method of yoga and it is even a great workout for my husband and I.
5) Karate or Taekwondo
My 12 year old nephew recently received his black belt in karate. I tease him that I am going to hire him to be my bodyguard.
He had some issues with focus when he was younger and this sport helped improve his concentration immensely. It has also helped with his overall self-confidence.
This is an ideal sport for kids because it requires energy and high metabolism. Something most kids have in abundance.
Bone Strength, hand-eye coordination, problem solving and strategy are added benefits of this well-rounded gross motor activity. If your child is at all interested in learning to play tennis, sign her up now!
When I was a teenager, I helped save the life of my best friend. We were splashing around in the shallow end of a hotel pool. She didn’t know how to swim and the shallow part ended sooner than she thought it did.
She panicked and when I swam over to help her, she instinctively started pulling me down in the water so she could stay above it.
Thankfully, the swimming lessons I had taken as a child helped me navigate the water and get in a position where I could get her to safety quickly.
For this reason, I am a firm believer that all children need to learn at least basic water safety skills.
They need to know the skills to help them survive in a water emergency. Better yet, they need to learn how to swim. It is a skill that will benefit them their whole life.
Introduce your child to golf by playing miniature golf.
Another fun activity similar to golf is croquet. We used to play this quite a bit when I was growing up.
If your child expresses an interest in learning golf, visit the Play and Learn page on the US Kids Golf website. It can help you locate a coach near you.
There is also information on the U.S. Kid’s Golf Academy as well as other helpful links.
You never know. You might just have a future pro golfer in your family!
This Benefits of Bowling article on Kids Learn to Bowl website has some amazing statistics about bowling.
Bowling is another fun gross motor activity to do as a family. I enjoy bowling, but haven’t visited a bowling alley in awhile.
I think a trip to the nearest one is due soon. Hopefully, I can keep the ball out of the gutter!
10) Rollerblading or Roller Skating
Roller skating was huge when I was a child. It was where you went to hang out with your friends on the weekend. I learned to skate when I was in Kindergarten. I remember hanging on to the outside walls of the skating rink until some fifth grade girl took me under her wing and taught me how to balance myself.
My younger brother and I loved to roller skate and would often speed around our unfinished basement with my younger brother.
When I was a young adult, rollerblading became popular. I purchased a pair, but my fear of knee or wrist injury held me back from really enjoying rollerblading.
Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find roller skating rinks. The one in our town was closed and demolished this past year.
If you still have a roller skating rink near you, it is worth it to take your family there and teach your kids to skate. It is such a fun way to spend an evening together and your kids may just fall in love with it like I did.
11) Ice Skating
This gross motor activity is similar to roller skating except that you have a blade on the bottom of your shoe instead of rollers and you glide around on an ice rink instead of a cement one.
I didn’t learn to ice skate until I was a young adult, but it was very easy since I already knew how to roller skate.
My favorite winter Olympic sport is figure skating. If your child is interested in learning to figure skate, check to see if there is a place locally that offers lessons.
12) Skiing or Snowboarding
If you are like me and live several hours away from the mountains, this gross motor activity is not one your child will be able to participate in often.
However, I learned to ski as a child because our family took a trip to the mountains each winter.I never learned to snowboard and have no interest in learning now.
I would suggest if at all possible to provide your children the opportunity to learn to ski and/or snowboard while they are young. They are closer to the ground if they fall, they are quite fearless and they aren’t as prone to injury as adults.
If you do live near the slopes, take advantage of this great way to exercise and spend time with your kids.
13) Water Skiing or Wakeboarding
I tried my hardest to water ski when I was younger and never had the upper body strength to get up out of the water. I did enjoy riding on a tube behind the motor boat, though. My younger brother is a natural at water skiing.
Give your kids the opportunity to try this activity if possible. It definitely helps kids with focus, balance and coordination.
Remember to practice water safety and wear a life jacket at all times!
14) Bike Riding
Pretty much all kids learn to ride a bike. It is one of the rites of childhood! Make sure your child understands and practices bike safety.
Bike riding is a great family activity. Find a local park or bike trail and spend an evening riding together.
It is a wonderful way to get some exercise, enjoy nature and bond as a family!
15) Horseback Riding
I have a great respect and admiration for horses, but am not interested in riding them. This is probably due to the fact that my cousin and I got bucked off my grandmother’s horse when I was a child.
I think horses are fascinating and beautiful, but looking at them is about as close as I will get. Maybe someday I will overcome my fear and try horseback riding again.
If your child is interested in this gross motor activity, visit a horse riding school or camp and sign them up for a trial lesson.
This is a good way to discover if your child truly is invested in learning this sport before you pay for lessons.
Get Up and Move!
It is shocking to me how many school aged children spend their entire weekends inside playing video games. I am not opposed to children playing some video games, but notice I said SOME.
I worry about the repercussions of children who don’t participate in gross motor activities. Encourage your children to spend some time away from the screen. Kids need to get up and move for their overall health and well-being as well as stress management.
What are some of your favorite gross motor activities for kids? Share them in the comments below.