16 Indoor Activities that Strengthen Gross Motor Skills
Did you know keeping your little one active does much more for them than helping them keep fit? Whenever your child uses their whole body, they strengthen their gross motor skills – important skills needed to strengthen core muscles, integrate sensory experiences, and aid coordination. They allow your child to do everyday activities like running, jumping, getting dressed, or riding a bike.
When it comes to outdoor play, children are constantly practising their gross motor skills. Indoors, it’s a little trickier! Here’s how to support your child’s gross motor skills without leaving the house:
1. Set out an obstacle course
An obstacle course is a great way to tailor gross motor activities to suit your child’s interests and abilities. You can use toys, cushions and furniture to go under, over and round to reach the finish line.
2. Jump onto mattresses
Don’t like your kids jumping on the bed? Take a mattress off the bed and allow them to jump from other furniture onto the mattress on the floor. This activity makes great slow-mo videos too!
3. Try out silly walks
Take it in turns to use your whole body to create a silly walk. Wiggle, shimmy, take giant strides… There are no rules!
4. Play Pause, Fast-Forward, Rewind!
Pretend you or your child is in charge of a human remote control that can pause, fast-forward, rewind, and play. If you shout ‘Pause’ everyone must freeze, ‘Fast-forward’ everyone must move faster, ‘Rewind’ move backwards, etc.
5. Get Hula Hooping
If you own hula hoops, it’s time to get them out. Whether you’re trying to master the Hula spin or using it as a target to throw bean bags or cuddly toys, they are a very handy prop for using gross motor skills.
Need I say more? Put on their favourite songs and let them show off their moves. Add in dance scarves or shaker percussion to encourage even more movement.
7. Do some heavy work
Heavy work consists of any activity that pushes or pulls against the body. Challenge your child to move a big box of toys, lift heavy (cold & empty) saucepans, or push against your hands in a ‘battle’ of strength.
8. Clean & tidy together
If your child is still of the age where they’re excited to help you do ‘grown up’ jobs, make the most of it! It’s a brilliant way to have them using their bodies, whether it’s washing up, helping load the washing machine, or dusting. It’s active work.
9. Create a tape balance beam
Grab some masking / washi tape and create a line on the floor for your child to ‘balance’ along. Easy.
10. Play balloon keepy uppy
This one’s always fun! Blow up a balloon and see how long you can keep it in the air with gentle taps.
11. Play cuddly catch
A game of ball isn’t always safe indoors, but plush toys can be a good alternative to practice throwing and catch.
12. Do an indoor scavenger hunt
Hide clues or toys around the house and have your child find them (against the clock if you want to make it even harder). They’ll need to lift things, move things, climb things, and move quickly around the house – all good for motor skills.
13. Have a pillow fight
For lots of physical exertion and giggles, have a pillow fight! Your child will benefit hugely from the sense of power they get defeating you, and it’s good for their body too.
14. Pretend to be animals
Use a farm or zoo as inspiration and work through the animals using your whole body to mimic each one. You can turn it into a guessing game or take turns to direct each other.
15. Try timer challenges
For a competitive challenge between siblings or a fun way to do parent vs child, get out your smartphone timer and get active against the clock. How long can you balance on one leg? How many jumps can you do in 30 seconds? Or how quickly can you roll across the room?
16. Play Simon Says
Don’t forget this classic! Simon Says is a quick and easy way to get your child engaging in a mix of full-body activities, from doing star jumps to picking up toys or spinning in circles. Let your imagination and enthusiasm be your guide.
Excited to try these activities? Don’t forget to bookmark this article or pin it on Pinterest so you have it for a rainy day! Speaking of rainy days, you might also like this blog on fun outdoor activities for ‘bad weather’.