School will be starting up before we know it – the big kids will hop on the bus with their friends, preschoolers will bolt from their minivans to meet their new teachers…but what about the little ones who are still home with mom or dad? If this fall finds you at home with one or more kiddos who aren’t big enough for school, but are still big on engagement, learning, and fun…this next series of activities is for you! For the next few days, we’ll be featuring simple activities for younger kids that are designed to promote motor, sensory, and cognitive development through play! Let’s get started!
Wooden building blocks were always a favorite of mine growing up. My dad would stack them high and we would knock them down. He would build elaborate forts and castles and bridges and we would pretend that they were magical lands for our toys. As a pediatric physical therapist, I use this classic childhood toy…A LOT! They are a favorite among my young preschoolers because there are so many fun ways to play with them. Blocks can be used inside or outside and can be used for encouraging so many developmental skills in young children. Here are some examples of gross motor activities that are perfect for younger toddlers through preschool age.
WHAT YOU NEED: Wooden building blocks
WHAT TO DO:
1. DON’T FALL OFF THE BRIDGE: Lay a series of blocks end to end to create a balance beam. Explain to the child that she must walk across the bridge without stepping into the “water”. If she falls in, the fish will tickle her toes! Now…expect that for the first couple of times, it will be MORE fun to actually step in the water just to see what happens. Play along and encourage her to get as many steps as possible before falling off!
-Space the blocks a little further apart and make stepping stones to get from point A to point B
-Place objects, like the frog beanbags we love so much, on the blocks so that she has to step over them or squat to retrieve them on the way over the bridge.
2. BLOCK BOWLING: Let your child place blocks around the room by standing them up on their ends. Next, give her a small foam or other soft ball and give her the challenge of rolling the ball (working on those underhand throwing skills) or kicking the ball to knock down the “pins”.
-Incorporate some academic skills by writing or taping numbers or letters on the blocks and asking her to knock down a block that corresponds to the letter or number you are giving her.
-Encourage balance on one foot by asking her to lift a foot, hold it for a count of two and then kick the block down! KARATE KID!!! :)
3. OBSTACLE COURSE: Give those fine motor skills a workout and have your little one stack up 2-3 blocks in a few places around the room. Once you have a few “hurdles” set up, place your child at a starting line — an easy-to-remember place in the room — and say go! Have her jump, step, hop, go up and over, her stacks of blocks. The varying heights will encourage motor planning and proprioception!
-Change it up by placing a few other household objects within this child-created obstacle course. For example, put a pillow down and have her step on and off of it before hitting the next stack of blocks.
SKILL AREAS ADDRESSED: Gross motor skills, coordination, motor control, balance, visual motor integration
Be sure to sign up to receive our newsletter, a weekly roundup of our favorite activities delivered right to your inbox! Simply enter your email address in the box in the sidebar and click “Subscribe”!