Traditional Toys And Activities That Develop Gross Motor Skills

Published: 02nd May 2007
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As soon as your baby is born, she will begin to develop and use her gross motor skills. From supporting her own head and rolling over to running and throwing a ball, gross motor skills are a vital part of childhood development. Once your child has mastered basic gross motor skills and gains more control over her arm and leg movement, she will be better able to develop the smaller muscles needed to learn fine motor skills like holding a spoon or tying. Most children learn gross motor skills through their own play, especially during outdoor play, but there are also a number of traditional toys and games that can aid in gross motor development.

Traditional toys like balls are great gross motor toys for all ages, but various sized balls are exceptional for preschoolers. Throw the balls across the yard, practice kicking, and encourage your child to catch. Throwing and catching is one of the best activities for developing arm muscles, and it also aids in hand and eye coordination.

Outdoor games are another fun way to encourage gross motor development. Traditional games, like Red Rover, Mother May I, and Duck, Duck, Goose, give children the opportunity to work several large muscles while also developing social skills. Traditional toys, like ring toss and play parachutes, offer the same developmental benefits.

Other traditional toys for outside gross motor development are bicycles, tricycles, and pedal cars. Ride on toys have been childhood favorites for centuries and they help to develop several different muscles in the legs as well as some upper body muscles. Traditional toys, like hula hoops and jump ropes are also terrific for building large muscle control.

The traditional toys found on playgrounds or at parks can also help your child develop gross motor skills. Swings build several sets of muscles and coordination and balance as well. Climbing and sliding builds a variety of muscles in the legs, and monkey bars are great for building agility as well as large muscles.

Although most gross motor development takes place outdoors because there is more space to run and be active, there are still some traditional toys and a number of fun activities that can be played inside to build large muscle control. Set up an indoor obstacle course with pillows, piles of blankets, step stools, and chairs and encourage your child to find creative ways to get through it.

Other fun games that can be played indoors are Simon Says or Follow the Leader. Both of these games encourage children to move, but can be played in ways that don't require much space. You can also hold animal relays across the room. Have a crab walk or bunny hop race, or slither like a snake to the finish line. Lay a piece of string across the floor and let your child see if she can walk across it like a balance beam.

Traditional toys for indoors that develop gross motor skills are rather limited, but they are available. Classic rocking horses encourage large muscle use throughout the body and enhances coordination. Other traditional toys for inside play include bean bag games, hobby horses, and musical instruments. Dancing, exercising, and singing songs that involve movement are other ways to encourage gross motor development indoors.


Gary Clay is an expert on Traditional toys, and runs an old fashioned Traditional toyshop called Monkeyshine.

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