Gross Motor Activities
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!
Have fun burning off energy and learning about physics with this simple and earth friendly bowling game. We have had a cooler than normal summer in the Pacific North West , unfortunately my kids don’t have lower than average energy . Sometimes getting out of the house isn’t an option but you can still have fun and burn some energy without trashing your house . I love making things with family pictures but you could easily number the pins, label them with shapes or letters too.
- Gather your materials. You will need some paper towel rolls ( toilet paper will work but don’t topple over as easily. I highly suggest paper towel rolls), pictures of your family printed out on regular printer paper, tape, scissors and a ball.
- Print out pictures of your family. You will want pictures that are vertical .
- Tape and roll.
- And tape again.
- Make as many or as few as you want. We didn’t play by real bowling rules , instead we just tried to knock as many down as possible.
- Then we set the pins up in a different formation to see if that would help knock more down . In all we tried 4 different set ups, I was just looking to have fun and play and we ended up with a physics lesson! See learning through play people!!
- After we were done my daughter enjoyed talking to the pins while I cooked dinner. So it was a win with both kids. Perfect!
Books About Family
Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton. This author is a preschool parents dream, short and easy to read melodic books with illustrations to die for. The story is simply a little love song about all the ways the dog loves the puppy, simple and touching. As an educator something I love is that the dogs don’t have an obvious race , they don’t even have an obvious gender which is perfect. Regardless of who loves who in your family your child can see you in the dog and themselves in the puppy! I think that is the perfect valentine! My son didn’t warm up to this book right away, but now not only does he love it he is very very specific that only I can read it to him . It’s become a big favorite in our house.
Sometimes It’s Grandmas and Grandpas: Not Mommies and Daddies by Gayle Byrne is a wonderful book about grandparents who are raising their grand daughter. There is no long drawn out explanation about where her parents are, or what led to her grandparents having custody and I don’t think there needs to be. They are her parents, love her, snuggle her, read with her and love her just like any parents. She does wonder about her parents and shows signs of feeling different but the security and love her grandparents provide overcome those insecurities. The author’s note at the back of the book explains that she herself is raising her grandchild and offers more resources for grandparents who are primary caregivers as well.
Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler had my son clapping and be bopping in his jammies before bed. This book is so fun to read, the musical words are impossible not to dance to. My son loves jazz, and his only disappointment was that there were no trumpets in the book. He didn’t understand that the family in the book , which included grandparents, aunts , uncles and cousins were listening to a record. I tried to tell him it was like a cd but the illustration was clearly a record player and he wasn’t buying it. Still we loved this book , the family was loving and I loved that the older brother was holding the baby, not common in kids books to see a boy holding a baby. Great book even without a trumpet.
Blast those darn piggies with water balloon Angry Birds! Inspired by the mega popular video game Angry Birds this takes the game outside into the sun for fun all summer long.
Earlier this year we featured a post by contributing writer Kim about playing Real Life Angry Birds. Well because of that post I finally downloaded the game and have been not so shamefully in love with the game ever since. When the sun finally came out I knew we needed to adapt Kim’s post into something for outside in the sun. So of course we needed to include water balloons and a little art too! To say we had fun would be the understatement of the century- this was incredibly awesome.
- Gather your materials. You will need some water balloons, a permanent marker ( optional) and some washable sidewalk chalk . The washable chalk obviously comes off when hit with a few balloons so it’s great for this activity. You may also want a bag or bowl to rest your balloons in so that they aren’t on the pavement where they may pop.
- Start by filling your balloons.
- Carefully add angry faces with the permanent marker.
- Draw your pigs ( if you aren’t familiar with the game these piggies are your targets). I did the green, he did (some) blue!
- Get ready to smash those pigs! This can also be a lesson in sizes .
- Get those bad pigs!
- Keep blasting . Between balloons I would pretend to tweet a whistle and announce ” Clean Up Crew – Time Out!” then quickly retrieve all the pieces of each water balloon. Please be sure to dispose of them carefully, and keep them out of your children’s reach as deflated balloons are unsafe for kids. We used neon balloons so the bright colors would be easy to spot.
- We kept going back to make more “birds”.
- At the end of the game I had my son be the final cleaning crew looking for balloon pieces.