Gross Motor Activities
This is a super simple alphabet game that gets kids moving and grooving while they learn their letters. This is part 14 of our Alphabet For Starters series, a series of alphabet activities that use play and exploration to introduce and learn letters. We did the game as a lower and uppercase match but you can adjust it for your needs and child’s abilities. To be honest I wasn’t exactly sure if I was at the target level of learning for my daughter , I wanted it to be challenging but attainable so I enlisted her brother to help. He loved being her guide even though she only needed him a couple of times. Soon he had the controls and I went to warm up my coffee. Here is how you can make your own gross motor alphabet game.
- Gather your materials. You will need some paper or card stock , a marker, painters tape and some good music your kids will dance to. Ours was Call Me Maybe .
- Start buy pushing some furniture out of the way and making letters our of the painter’s tape right on the floor. Don’t feel like you have to do all the letters. Every lesson doesn’t need to cover every letter. I admit I did mostly ones that were easier to make with tape.
- Write the lowercase letters on the paper. ** Adaptations ** You can also write the same uppercase letters and simply have your child match them or for even older kids you can write a word and have them find the first letter.
- Invite the kiddos. To have them start I have them find the first letter of their own names- hands on heads, eyes on me.
- Music starts and they dance !
- Music stops and I hold up a letter.
- They find the match.
- Dance again! Match again.
- This went on for a long time and after it was apparent that my daughter understood and could do most of the letters herself my son wanted to be what he called the ref. So they played solo.
- I went for coffee and popped my head in every now and then. We’d play again but my daughter sneaked into the living room after dinner last night and tore up all the letters. Maybe sometime this week I will put new ones we didn’t have down and we’ll play again. It was a hit and both my 5.5 year old and 2 year old liked it which is not always the case.
50 Alphabet Books
Reading alphabet books has made a world of difference for both my son and my daughter learning their letters and choosing good, interesting and visually awesome books helps. These 50 alphabet books are my favorites . Many have themes and choosing a theme that appeals to your child is a great way to get more reluctant lap sitters or book listeners involved.
Even on nice days sometimes it’s hard to get your kids really moving and if your kids are anything like mine the harder they play the harder they sleep which is good for everyone! My son is all into military things right now so when I saw these loot bag parachute toys at the store I grabbed a pack and created this easy gross motor activity . Working on gross motor skills isn’t just about an easy bedtime for everyone, it’s about building confidence, coordination , balance and more. You could adapt this a million ways by simply changing what is on the parachutes.
- Gather your materials. You will need some parachute toys ( or make one !) , a permanent marker and an eager kiddo.
- My toys did not come assembled so I had to tie the wee little parachutes on to my brave plastic soldiers. If your child can tie them have them do it, it was amazing fine motor practice for me and will be for them too. If like my son they are still not quite there yet do NOT push them it will frustrate them and may end the activity before it even begins.
- Ok time to write some physical tasks. Keep the writing simple enough for them to read if they are starting to and use numbers to sneak in some math too.
- Take them outside. My daughter threw one and it didn’t get past the bushes but her bother didn’t care.
- He read the message and did jumping jacks on the spot.
- Then we took them down to the lawn and I threw them and he caught them after screaming ” Bombs Away!!” And got a great boot camp style work out, did a little reading and some counting too!
I didn’t know what to call this game because it uses so many skills . The player needs to recognize sizes , sound out words for the street names as well as recognize numbers for the house addresses. Also it incorporates gross motor and balance as they push the car along the streets. Of course I wouldn’t be posting an activity like this without making adaptations easy. The street names could be turned to letters such as A Street. B Street etc… and the houses could be colors instead of numbers! My son who is almost 5 loves this game, we have played with with friends and alone over the past week. The best part is that new street names and house numbers can be added so easily!
- Gather your materials. You will need a patch of floor, painter’s tape, some construction paper ( I used black, brown , orange and yellow), a glue stick, a marker , white paper and some sicssors. Oh and a toy car , my son wanted one with space to actually put the pizza in it so ours is huge. Use your favorite.
- Start by choosing the words you want to make into the street names. The player will have to find the right address to deliver the pizza and will have to read all the streets they drive on. I chose to do all sm , sn and sp blends but any words will do. For us my son needed to work on sounding out so I chose words he wouldn’t be as apt to read by sight. Write them on white paper.
- Glue them on black construction paper and cut out.
- Next up make the houses. As you can see my goal is not perfection , it’s fun so as long as my son can tell it’s a house , I am happy.
- Pop some numbers on the houses. Try to make some that are “easy” for your child, ones they will recognize immediately and some that are a challenge.
- Time for pizza. If your child is gaga for crafts have them make the pizza while you do the previous steps. We made 6 total – 2 large, 2 medium and 2 small.
- Don’t forget the pizzeria – ours is elaborate
- Now create the road way with tape on your floor.
- Place the streets and houses with numbers on the roadway.
- Invite your player to come and deliver the pizzas! How to play: Pretend to call the pizza place asking for any combo of the pizza sizes such as one large and two smalls. Give them your address ( which of course is determined by the house on the street… so ours was #77 Smoke street ), then as they deliver the pizza they have to read the streets they use to get there.
- Keep going until all the pizzas are delivered!
- Switch up where each road is and move the houses around for the next round! This was such a hit we played for a long time.
Books About Pizza !
The Princess and the Pizza by Mary Jane and Herb Auch is really a cute re telling of the classic Princess and the Pea. They have modernized it and made it a little more feminist in the process, exactly my kind of book. The text is a little long for toddlers but my son sat through about half before wanting to go back and look at the illustration of the horse on the first page. The message is sweet, saying that a woman doesn’t need a man or marriage to attain her goals! Beware though it will make you crave pizza!
The Little Red Hen (Makes a Pizza) by Philomen Sturges is a great retelling of the classic story. Kids will be able to relate to this hen not getting any help for all her hard work. Luckily her friends realize their mistake and do the dishes after she shares her yummy pizza. Since originally recommending this book it’s made a move from the bookshelf to the dresser pile of books that are in rotation for before nap and bedtime reading. A sure sign it’s kid approved!
Pizza at Sally’s is another great look at a small business owner , and how she does her work everyday and feeds the masses with her yummy pizza! I like how it not only explains how to make pizza but it also looks at the ingredients and how they are grown and processed. Of course it’s not explained in depth but it is explained enough to start a dialogue with interested preschoolers for further investigation. My son loves the cat in this book, the same cat is in many of the other books but for some reason he particularly loves it’s presence in this one. It’s inspired me to make the dough from scratch with my son next time we have pizza! A lovely book!
Finding fun spooky games to play that won’t scare the pants of little guys is not always a simple task . This game is simple, spooky but not at all frightening. As I was making it I wasn’t so sure of how we’d play but the rules evolved and we’ve been playing it all weekend . The giggles were epic and the only screams were when I forgot the spiders are fake and walked into the living room and saw them on the floor. This activity works on balance , problem solving and can be adapted for various levels.
- Gather your materials. You will need some painters tape, plastic spiders, a prize for the end like a glow stick and if the simple version ( explained below) is too easy have some other obstacles like these ghosts ready to make it a challenge.
- Start by making a web with tape on your floor. You can do a full web or if like me space is limited just do a half.
- Make an obvious start and finish. We call our finish home base.
- Add some spiders around the web and the prize ( glowstick) in the center. After the first go I let my son scatter the spiders himself.
- Time to play. So the object of this web walking game is to stay on the web and pick up all the spiders then the prize ( glow stick) without falling off the web . Now this can be made very difficult by requiring tippy toes or much easier by only counting a fall onto the floor as a true fall. For us he was out and had to start again if he took a step off the tape.
- It was not a big enough challenge so we added ghosts! He could step over them but if his foot touched one he was out. Another way to make it much more of a challenge for older kids is to turn it into a timed challenge with a stop watch.
- When he did step off I’d make a cackling witchy laugh and proclaim ” You fell into the goo, ew, ew, ew ! ” He’d laugh and start again
Spooky … a little but definitely not scary! I think this game will be coming out every October for years to come.
You may know the song ” One Elephant” This is a Halloween version that fits this activity perfectly. In my class I used to sing this with me starting at one side of the circle time rug calling each child over. My assistant teacher would be last. I have had so many requests for songs, I couldn’t ignore this perfect match of song and activity.
One little ghost went out to play upon a spider’s web one day
He had such enormous fun that he called for another little ghost to come.
Two little ghosts went out to play upon a spider’s web one day
They had such enormous fun that they called for another little ghost to come.
and so on and so on…
Warm weather is already tapering off , rain has been pounding down in many areas but kids still need to move, burn off energy and have fun doing it! Over the years we’ve gathered many gross motor activities for preschoolers and all of these can be done rain or shine in your home.
The Easy Balance Beam shown above is as simple as can be but offers a million possibilities . We’ve been pirates, played Simon Says on the beam, even played statue while standing on one leg.
This Musical Hearts Game is a wonderful and fun way to incorporate listening, reading and shapes into a gross motor activity. We played this often last winter and can’t wait to include my daughter in on the fun now that she is running and jumping too.
What could be more fun than knocking down your brother or sister and not getting in trouble? This Family Bowling Game lets your kids have fun knocking down custom made bowling pins while they work on gross motor skills and coordination .
Combine color matching with a classic bean bag toss with our Color Toss activity. Encourage your kids to toss the bags from further and further away as they master it.
Like the musical hearts game this simple activity turns physical tasks like jumping jacks , crab walk and high kicks into a game. The Batman get up is purely optional.
Block Basket Ball has been revived at our house with my toddler. My son loved popping these blocks into the garbage bin and now my daughter likes to play it with bean bags and a basket. Seriously simple, but they gobble it up!