Gross Motor Skills

Gross Motor Skills


Postural Control

refers to the ability to sustain the necessary background posture to efficiently carry out a skilled task, such as reading

or handwriting. The ability to stabilize the trunk and neck underlies the

ability to develop efficient eye and hand movements.

Proximal Stability to both the shoulder and pelvic girdles

this refers to the muscle control of the shoulders and pelvic. they are required to be in control before proper use of upper and lower extremeties.

Core trunk stability

This refers to the musculature that supports the core of your body both abdominal and back muscles.

T Stool




The following activities are examples of activities which work on body awareness, endurance, core body control, hand-eye coordination, upper body strength for fine motor tasks, tactile desensitization, motor sequencing, and complex bilateral coordination. Please supervise these activities.

  • Bear   Walking
  • This involves keeping both hands and feet in contact with the floor while facing the floor, the child’s bottom is up in the air while moving forward. The child can move around and pretend he/she is a Bear! 

  • Crab   Walking
  • Child lays on their back on the floor, keeping both hands and feet in contact with the floor while facing the ceiling, child lifts their bottom up off the floor and tries to move.

  • Frog   Jumps
  • Involves squatting down to the floor and then jumping up with hands and feet off ground, and moving forward before landing. You will want to have a visual target to jump to or past.

  • Ball Toss   (into a tub or target)
  • Have the child toss a ball into a target. 

  • Crawling   through tunnel
  • You can create a tunnel using sheets over furniture, or have child crawl under tables on hands and knees. There are cloth tunnels sold commercially. 

  • Jumping    with deep pressure
  • Child stands with hands placed flat on a table or with hands on the seat of a chair and jumps with both feet leaving the floor. The child will be putting pressure through their hands. This prepares them for upper body work. 

  • Pushing  a wall away
  • Child stands facing a wall with both hands flat against the wall. Have the child push hard as if they are trying to “move the wall”. The child can also sit on the floor, facing the wall and push with their feet to “move the wall”.

  • Carrying  heavy objects
  • Child can carry baskets, buckets, books, anything with weight, from one location to another. This helps to promote trunk and body control.

The following activities are examples of activities which work on balance, coordination, strengthening, endurance, concentration, and foot-eye coordination. Please supervise these activities.

Balance Challenges 

  • Tight   Rope Walking 
  • (place a long string or a long piece of tape on the floor and have the child      pretend this is a high wire…practice heel to toe walking). You can also      practice jumping over the line, landing with 2 feet together.

  • Hands  and Knees: 
  • Start   out on hands and knees – lift one arm up at a time and hold for a specific   count (keeping head up), then try lifting one leg up at a time (again,  keeping head up) and hold for a specific count. Make this harder by then  requiring one arm and the opposite leg be held up at the same time, then  arm and leg on the same side (trunk and head should be held as straight as      possible).

  • Stop/Go/Turn:  
  •  you   will give the child instructions to walk backwards, stop, turn and walk  forward, stop, turn and sidestep, stop, turn in a circle, stop and walk  sideways…. (He/she will need to be able to keep his/her balance with all  these direction changes. Speed of your instructions controls level of  difficulty

  • Side  Stepping: 
  • (take  side steps along a line or around a circle, step in each direction)

  • Standing   on one leg: (Just      as it sounds…make it competitive and incorporate counting or a song into      the activity, how long can he/she stand on one foot)

  • Galloping:   
  •  (have a specific course you would like the child to follow, he/she can try hopping, or jumping instead)

  • Pillow  walking: 
  • (place  pillows or couch cushions on the floor. Have the child step from cushion  to cushion and keep his/her balance.

  • Pillow  standing: 
  • (same   as above but have the child stand on cushion and reach for toys or for  your hand as you move the target from side to side and up and down.)

  • Kick  Bowling: 
  • Set  up 10 “bowling pins” (may be cups, cans, 2-liter coke bottles) and then  have the child kick the ball approx. 10 feet forward to knock the pins   down.

  • Pushing/Pulling: Have the child push  or pull items across the floor, such as a basket of clothes, or other   items. He/she can pretend it is a car and he/she is driving. If he/she has a stroller or cart to push, weight it down a little to make pushing or pulling a little harder

  • Walking  outdoors: 
  • Have the child walk outside on slopes, hills and uneven ground. This can be a  moderate slope. Have him/her walk slowly, walk standing up straight and      keeping his/her balance. He/she can also walk up the slope or hill.      Climbing on/using playground equipment (stairs, ladders, slides, chinning bars, fireman poles, monkey bars (assisting as needed) also provides good      outdoor practice.

  • Stomping   feet
  • Encourage child to stomp feet hard on the floor/ground as they walk. Pretend they are giants, monsters, large animals, etc. 

  • Wheelbarrow    Walking

Old fashioned wheelbarrow walking… one child places hands on floor and another individual grab hold of his ankles and holds them up. With elbows and knees extended, the child uses his hands on the floor to walk forward. Works on upper body strength for fine motor tasks, tactile desensitization, improved body awareness, and complex bilateral coordination


  • Obstacle    Courses

Include activities such as riding tricycles around cones, climbing over a stack of gym mats, walking on a balance beam or on a line on the floor (may tape a jump rope to the floor to imitate a ‘high wire’), jumping over objects or jumping from one carpet square to another and then another like ‘lily pads in a pond’, scooter boards around cones, kicking balls around cones while running, etc.

Ideas for setting up the obstacle course:

  1. let the children help   you prepare the area.
  2. let the obstacle  course relate to something you might be studying – if working on shapes that   week, create a course that reflects that theme.
  3. let the child enjoy  the sensory experience – if he wants to repeat one activity over and over,   let him, at least a little while.
  4. encourage a variety  of activities within one obstacle course, for example, a balance beam/tape      line, a tunnel, mats for rolling, a slide, pillows in a pile to walk over,      etc. 
  5. Try novel experiences    hang balloons from a PVC pipe stand and let the child scoot under them      using a scooter board. Place shaving cream on an old shower curtain and    let them walk in it. Walk over bubble wrap and pop the bubbles. Place a   thick rope on the floor in a curvy pattern and have the child walk on it    barefoot. Creep over a stack of pillows. Cut out green circles and have      the child jump from “lily pad to lily pad

  • Bean   Bag Toss

Bean Bag toss games allow practice at throwing over handed and underhanded toward a target. Targets may include an area designated by cones or paper, a ball pit type pool, buckets, hoola hoops or other sizable containers. Make it competitive and children will generally enjoy the activity (esp. as teams)

  • Simple   Childhood Games

Red Rover: Focuses on running, arm strength

Duck-Duck-Goose:  Focuses on quick positional transitions (involving balance, strength and flexibility), and running

· Trampoline: used primarily to develop jumping skills.

  1. provide 2 hand  support or have student hold rail on trampoline.
    Support is best given at chest to shoulder level.
  2. Encourage bouncing,   jumping, use verbal and visual cues and whatever motivators work.
  3. When the student  learns to jump up and down and his feet leave the surface, encourage him  to do more, continuing until he can jump consistently. 
  4. Move down to the  floor and encourage jumping up with 2 hand support and then without hand support.      

· Sit and Spin: In sitting encourage turning self in both directions, start slow and go faster as skill improves. This will develop trunk control and balance skills.

· Swing The suspended swing is often used for sensory purposes, but can also have a gross motor component. It can be used for developing balance and equilibrium skills in various positions. It is best to have one child at a time on the swing when you are working to develop balance skills. If the child is fearful provide support as needed and swing very gently. As they gain confidence increase the arc of movement and take away the physical support. The net swing can be used in lying or sitting and again is good for both strengthening and developing balance skills.

· Hoppity Balls: Generally good for balance, lower extremity and trunk strengthening, and endurance. 

· Scooter Boards:

very good for strengthening arms and back extensors. Try having child hold a hula hoop or a rope while you pull the child forward as an alternative to pulling self forward with arms.

You can tie a thick rope about 3 feet off the floor attaching it to something solid at each end. Have the student lie on his back on the scooter board and pull self along.

· Exercise Balls: There are a variety of activities that can be done on a therapy ball. 

prone (on tummy): rocking in all directions can be stimulating, encouraging the child to raise his head and strengthen neck and back extensors. Rocking down to floor or to the side can help facilitate protective extension. 

supine (on back): this can be a scary position for a child, so should be used carefully. You can have a child perform modified sit ups in this position. 

sitting: excellent position for working on head and trunk control. Bounce or rock child to stimulate balance responses. Remember to rock forward/backward and diagonally as well as side to side. 

· Balance Beam: Walking a balance beam helps a child change his walking pattern from a more childlike one with a wide base of support to a more adult pattern that encourages them to rotate hips so the child’s knees and feet point straight ahead. The beam also challenges upright balance. Ways to use the balance beam:

walk sideways 

walk with one foot on the beam and one foot off.

walk with hand held assistance one foot in front of the other.

walk independently.

Things to remember – set up the balance beam so your child feels stable on it and is comfortable using it. A wider beam is easier to use initially. You can even use a wide board placed on a floor. Provide hand support and when child is ready, encourage him to do it by himself. A child can also support himself by holding a wall. It is good practice to let the child go barefoot as they use the beam. If the child is reluctant to walk across it, let him stand on it momentarily. Use a variety of balance beam activities in the community as well. You can use railroad ties or other wooden borders at playgrounds, parks, etc. Another activity is to raise one end of the beam so the child goes up and down an incline. If the beam is too difficult to start with, use masking or electrical tape on the floor to create pathways to walk on.

· Slide: A child can work on stair climbing as well as having a great sensory experience sliding down. Though we encourage our kids to sit on their bottom to slide, we should really give them the opportunity to slide on their tummy, back, forward, and backward. Make sure they are safe and take turns however.

· Tunnel: The tunnel encourages crawling which strengthens the upper extremities, but has other applications. For a highly distractible child, this activity can be calming and used to help increase focus. If added to an obstacle course it can improve motor planning. For a child who cannot walk or crawl appropriately, they can lie on their back and scoot through the tunnel or they can pull with their arms and push with their legs – combat crawl – through. You can put a child on a scooter board and an adult can pull them through it. Children with visual impairments get good feedback in a tunnel. Compressing the tunnel so it is shorter can encourage a reluctant child to crawl through. 

· Body Image Activities:

Connect palm to palm with child and have them mirror movements. 

Lie on back with eyes closed. Now raise your arm, touch your elbow to your knee, touch your toes, make a circle in the air with your foot.

Keep a balloon in the air

Body Control:

1. Jump up (in place) and forward (progressively)

2. Jump over a low object

3. Stand on tip toes with hands on hips

4. Stand on tip toes with hands out to side, then overhead

5. Stand on one foot

6. Make forward and backward bridges with the body

7. Walk with baby steps, giant steps on feet, on heels and on toes

8. Put a small ball in a stocking – have student lie on back – dangle the stocking overhead and have the student try to hit it with each hand and then with their feet.

9. Roll a ball back and forth while sitting down – gradually increase the distance.

10. Bounce and catch a soft 6in playground ball, then catch it when thrown (can count 1, 2, 3 for timing)