I haven’t met a kid yet that doesn’t love some kind of animal. Some are on the cautious side and love kittens and puppies and others lean toward the exhibits at the zoo where they can peer through glass at king cobras and giant lizards.
Personally, I am a kitten and puppy kind of girl!
The animal theme is one of our favorite weeks at our non-profit, The Treehouse. It is a week full of activities that have kids moving like animals, following directions to the sounds of their favorite animals and even creating some amazing colorful peacocks with coffee filters and markers or ferocious lions with forks and brown paint.
We thought it would be fun to share two of our favorite gross motor games for physical therapy with the animal theme. These are perfect to get kids moving at home or practicing specific gross motor skills during therapy sessions (virtual or in-person).
Animal Sounds Game for Physical Therapy
For this activity, all you need is some audio files of a bunch of animals. A quick Google search (“animal sounds”) will give you lots of great options.
Have kids sit across the room (away from your computer or phone) and explain that they will listen to the animal sound and then move their bodies in a way that the animal they heard would move. If you’re playing the game during a virtual therapy session, simply play the sounds for the child to hear over your computer!
For example, if they hear the ribbit of a frog, they would begin hopping around the room just like a frog might. Give them a few minutes to move like the animal and then yell “Freeze”. Ask one child what animal sound they heard.
Then, increase the fun factor by asking that same child if they would like the next sound to be easy or hard! Let me tell you, a whale is a hard one to guess and act out with movement!
Animals move in such different ways that this activity is perfect for encouraging gross motor skills, crossing midline, bilateral coordination, balance, motor planning and more!
Animal Sorting Game for Physical Therapy
Use Google again to find flashcards of both zoo and farm animals. You could also do ocean animals. If you have plastic animals or a wooden animal puzzle that you can show each individual animal from, that would work, too! Here is a set of cards you could use!
Explain to the kids that you will show them a card and they will have to decide, in their brains, if the animal they see lives in the zoo or on the farm (or in the air or the water, etc.). Then, give them a movement to indicate which habitat they’re choosing.
For example, if the animal lives in the zoo, everyone will jump up and down. If the animal lives on the farm, everyone will crawl on the floor. You can change up these movements on every turn or practice them for awhile. They can also be very specific to goal areas that you might need to practice for a child’s IEP! The best part is, they will be having so much fun that they won’t realize how hard they are working!
You can also print images from Boardmaker or other programs to indicate which movement goes with each habitat (e.g. a picture of a child jumping next to a picture of water to indicate that everyone should jump when they see an animal that lives in the water).
See how simple and fun a themed activity session can be? If you need more gross motor moves, try our Jumping Animals activity or Animal Tag. Add in some animal yoga for a warm-up, this Free Printable Animal Tracks Game for visual motor practice or a craft if you need to push fine motor skills and you have an entire therapy session or a fun playgroup for a summer afternoon!
What are your favorite animal themed games for physical therapy? We would love to hear! Leave them in the comments below!
PS…have you seen our On The Farm Movement Game? It would be another cute addition to a farm animal themed playgroup!!