Using visual cues is a great way to support the development of gross motor skills in kids. Read on to find out more!
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Teaching a child to do a new gross motor skill, especially a highly coordinated one that involves crossing midline or use of both sides of the body, can be a challenge. If you don’t believe me, try getting a kindergartener to do a jumping jack for the first time.
As therapists, we often use cueing to help kids through these awkward first tries. Auditory cues like “make your body look like and ‘X’ and now and ‘I’” work for some. Other times, we use visual cues — a concrete picture that the child can see that tells him where to place his feet to make the jumping jack pattern happen.
The fun thing about visual cues is that they can be utilized for single skill practice or embedded within another activity to reinforce a skill.
Here are 8 tips for using visual cues to promote gross motor skills. We love Hands and Feet mats by TumblTrak because they are color coded to make it simple for a child to discriminate right from left, they can be used in any combination, and they are super durable.
Using Visual Cues to Promote Gross Motor Skills
1 || Keep it simple. Place a single footprint on the floor to encourage balance on one foot. Here are some more of our favorite ways to encourage single leg stance.
3 || Hopping in a straight line down a road of footprint targets is so much more fun than just doing it on the plain, boring floor!
5 || Need a fun midline crossing challenge? Place a line down the center of the floor (or use a balance beam like we did in the video below). Place footprints along the length of the line on both sides and have kids jump side to side over the line to hit the targets with their feet. Bonus challenge: Add in some hands! Kids love obstacle courses and this is a great activity to incorporate!
6 || Hands and Feet visuals are also a great way to help kids understand where their bodies should go for animal walks. Bear walking can be tricky for some (and crab walking, oh crab walking!). Help ease some of the motor planning challenge in these complex moves by using visual cues. Animal walks are great for strengthening little hands and for developing core strength!
7 || Encourage the use of an alternating pattern on the stairs by placing a footprint where each foot should go on the steps. Kids should be alternating their feet on the stairs between the ages of 27 and 36 months.
8 || Quadruped position (being on all fours) is a great place to play to encourage a ton of child development skills. Use handprints to show a child where to keep her hands to stay in this position.
Click here to check out how we used our Hands and Feet during one of our recent play groups at The Treehouse!
Looking for more fun movement-based visual prompts? Check out our free Hallway Waiting Games printable pack!
What are your favorite visual prompts and cues to use during gross motor tasks? Leave them in the comments below!