Looking for some gross motor activities for teens and older kids? Check out these fun ideas!
As the only physical therapist in the school district where I practice, I am lucky to be able to be a constant in a child’s journey with therapy services. If I initiate physical therapy services for a kiddo in preschool, I will follow that child through their elementary, middle school and high school years as long as they continue to have delays in their gross motor skills.
One of the toughest parts of my job is being creative enough in my treatment approach to keep the older child interested in coming to therapy and motivated to achieve their goals. Many of you have asked us to create some activity suggestions for older children. Sometimes, with kids that are 8 years old and above, it is less important to have the perfect, organized activity than it is to slam your approach to practicing skills out of the ball park!
Kids of this age love, and I mean LOVE, competition. Make anything you’re working on into a game, make sure there’s a winner, and you can’t go wrong. Here are a few ideas:
Grab a Stack of Playing Cards
A deck of cards is my go to for my middle and high schoolers. Here are some examples of how we incorporate movement.
War – Deal an even number of cards to each player. On the count of three, everyone throws out a card. The person with the highest card collects every one else’s card AND determines an activity that everyone must do for the number of reps that the highest card represents (i.e. 9 jumping jacks).
Faces – Determine an activity for each suit. For example, spades may be ski jumps, hearts are frog jumps, clubs are push-ups, and diamonds are chair dips. Take turns drawing a card and do the number of reps of the activity for the suit that is drawn.
Pick Up a Pack of Window Markers
I get the evil eye from some of the building maintenance crews for this one, but they forgive me once they realize that another, very therapeutic, part of the activity is washing the windows after we’re done! Find a clean window and try these classics with a twist.
Tic Tac Toe – Draw the game board as large as you can on a glass window or door. Mark a starting point at least 10’ away. Take turns determining how you each have to travel to/from the window to mark your turn (skip, hop one one foot, leap, etc). First to get three in a row, WINS!
Hangman – Same concept as Tic Tac Toe except I tend to challenge the kids a little more by asking them to create their movement based on the letter they are going to play. For instance, if they are going to guess “B”, then they might Bear Walk to the window.
Minute to Win It
These goofy games, with the added bonus of competition, are the perfect way to get the older kid crowd on board with working on motor skills. Set a timer and see who can complete the challenge first!
Young and old love to do obstacle course activities and the best part about them is that you can adapt them to any level of ability. With the older crowd, it’s all about beating the clock. Send them through once, time them, and see if they can beat their time the next time through.
Or, if you have more than one kiddo involved, see who can make it through the fastest. Form is everything though! The goal is to work on skills that are difficult while maintaining control and keeping good form. So, hopping on one foot with arms flailing and body leaning all over the place, just to go faster, kind of defeats the purpose! Incorporate more difficult skill builders like the following:
-side to side ski jumps
-jumping jacks with 90* turns
-cross body knee taps while marching
What are your favorite gross motor activities to use with older kids and teens? Leave us a comment below!
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