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Develop gross motor skills and why it is important

Use these simple activities to help develop gross motor skills in your child.

Gross motor skills, sometimes called gross motor skills, can be thought of as the movements involved in the coordination of the arms, legs, and other large parts and movements of the body. Gross motor skills are movements such as running, crawling, swimming or jumping. These types of movements are important for young children to practice as they develop, as they help children learn to coordinate and control their body movements. Gross motor skills also help lay the groundwork for being able to perform fine motor movements such as pinching or grabbing.

Young children need time to practice gross motor skills in everyday situations. The ability to run on large areas, practice hopping on one foot, crawling or jumping helps children develop their body control and coordination.

How can you help your child practice gross motor skills? Michigan State University Extension suggests these 10 Simple Activities to Try at Home. These activities will help develop hand-eye coordination and help children learn to control and coordinate their body movements.

  1. Ball game. Roll, throw, catch, throw, kick and bounce balls.
  2. Label. Run and chase. To add an extra touch, when someone is caught freeze them until another person touches them and thaws them.
  3. Ribbon line. Using tape to draw a line on the ground or floor, have the children practice walking and balancing on the line. Have the children jump over the line from side to side to practice jumping. You can also use other objects such as a piece of wood or a large branch to make a balance beam.
  4. Set of balloons. Throw balloons in the air and try to catch them, prevent them from touching the ground or have them fly back and forth together.
  5. Obstacle course. Set up objects such as hoops (or circles of wire), chairs, small tables, balls and buckets and have the children climb over, under, run and carry objects from a place to place.
  6. Set of bubbles. Blow bubbles, chase them and pop them. Have the children use the bubble wand and spin or run fast to blow bubbles instead of blowing to make them.
  7. Simon Says or Mother May I. Play Simon Says or Mother May I, focusing on big moves such as hopping on one foot, jumping up and down, touching your toes, swinging your arms, taking giant steps, spinning steps, walking in crab, etc.
  8. Music. Play different types of music, including fast and slow, and have a dance party. Make a movement and have the children copy that movement, then have them make a movement and copy it.
  9. Box game. Using empty boxes of all sizes, let children crawl through, over or under them. Have the children push and pull the boxes to move them.
  10. Throw and throw. Using bean bags, socks filled with beans, or stuffed animals, have children throw things into containers, taped areas on the floor, or chalked areas in the driveway.

Practicing gross motor skills will help children learn to control and coordinate their body movements. For more activity ideas and articles on child development, academic success, parenting, and life skills development, please visit the MSU Extension website.

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