6 Motor Activities For Outdoor Play

6 Motor Activities For Outdoor Play

Encouraging your child to play outdoors has unlimited benefits. It not only helps her be active, but can help strengthen her gross motor skills as well. Gross motor skills are movements that involve the large muscles of her body, such as walking, running, sitting, and jumping. Typically, gross motor skills begin to develop in infancy and continue to grow and strengthen throughout her childhood. Like most muscle movements, if she does not exercise them regularly, they can become weak. There are unlimited ways to encourage her gross motor skills while she plays outdoors. We explore a few simple gross motor rich activities below:

Races and obstacle courses - start off simple with back-and-forth running races, then gradually make it more complex by adding obstacles or activities that must be completed to move on. Integrate other types of movements, such as skipping, hopping, and/or jumping, to get a full gross motor work out.
Riding on wheels - bike, scooter, or skate riding can be a fun activity for your child and the whole family. Both, leisurely family rides on a trail and fast-paced races can help strengthen his gross motor skills.
Water play - for those hot summer days, water play can be a refreshing way to use gross motor skills. Have a water balloon toss, a water bucket relay, or even have him help you water your garden with a watering can.
Organized sports - most sports involve a range of movement and skills that can be beneficial when encouraging his gross motor movements. Basketball involves running, jumping, and hand/arm coordination and movements, while soccer involves running and kicking. Even a simple game of toss can help strengthen his hand and arm muscles.
Unorganized or "free" play - hula hooping, ribbon dancing, and jump roping are activities that allow him to be imaginative while moving. Going to the park or local playground is a great and easy way to get him to engage muscle movement in a variety of ways, while he is not even realizing he is doing it.
Classic movement games - "Mother May I?", "Hopscotch", and "Red Light, Green Light" are games that have been around for generations. They involve a variety of movements while allowing for him to use his creativity. As an added bonus they also enforce listening skills and following directions.

Sources: FriendshipCircle.org | HandsOnAsWeGrow.com | CodeNameMama.com

Gross Motor Activities For Outdoor Play
Shandy Marso, Contributor
Carolina Pediatric Therapy © September 2014

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