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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 block play in my practice…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.
Gross Motor Activities Using Blocks
Here are some examples of gross motor activities using blocks that are perfect for younger toddlers through preschool age. Looking for other fun ideas for block play? Click the link to find more!
What you’ll need:
What to do:
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!
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 then 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.
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 like Karate Kid!
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.
For Virtual Sessions:
Ask parents/caregivers to have some large wooden or foam building blocks on hand for the session. It may be helpful to have your own blocks on hand to provide demonstrations and modeling for each of the activities. Work your way through the activities described above to create a great movement-based therapy session!