Often times families need time to be quiet together. With the pandemic, children are not going and doing as much as typical. We are spending more time in front of screens and less time in nature, not just because of the pandemic, but because of changes in our world in general.
So, go for a walk! This is an opportunity for you and your child(ren) to get moving AND a chance to chat. Each time you go out for a walk, make it a little longer to build up the endurance. Also, make it fun for them. Here are some ways to do that!
search for items that begin with a specific letter/sound
search for letters
search for numbers
count the number of birds/animals/cars etc
create a graph to fill in on your walk (types of vehicles, items in nature, types of flowers, colors of houses etc)
create a pattern to walk in– step, step, hop or hop, hop, hop, touch your toes or so many other variations
set a timer and walk without talking until the timer goes off
walk to a set location (playground, pond, the mailbox on the corner etc)
walk, stop and listen
jump over all the cracks
walk backwards, sideways, or spinning
The goal is to spend time together. I encourage you as the adult to do less talking and you might be surprised to see that conversations that can occur in the quiet.
Positive Steps Therapy and I are teaming up to bring you informative posts based on the therapies they provide. Today’s post is all about gross motor development across the ages. Check out the fun engaging activities to do with your child!
Take it away Positive Steps….
We’ve finally made it to spring! Now that the weather will be warming up, there will be increased opportunities for play outdoors. There are so many fun ways to use items lying around the house to improve gross motor skills. In the current times that we are living in, there has been a large decline in opportunities for children to improve their gross motor skills through organized sports or group play. Here are some great ideas to incorporate into your child’s day to help them improve these skills that are so important for their gross motor development.
2-3 year olds:
Practice stair transitions using fun game ideas
Feed the frogs – Cut out frogs or other animals or use stuffed animals and place them at the bottom of the stairs. Place pom poms (food for animals) on the first few steps. Tell your child to walk up a certain number of stairs and collect the food to bring them to the frogs. Encourage your child to alternate feet on the stairs.
Perform animal walks to encourage gross motor development and overall strengthening. Use your imagination and practice being different animals such as bear, frog, horse, or kangaroo.
Use tape lines on the ground in various patterns (straight line, zig zag, etc) and have them walk along the line on flat feet and on tiptoes
Play Flaming hoops game by using a hula hoop with streamers taped to the top of the hoop. Challenge your child to step through a hula hoop without touching any part of the “flaming” hoop. Change up the game by having them crawl through or lead using various body parts such as their arm or head.
3-4 year olds:
Ride a tricycle
Perform animal walks to encourage gross motor development and overall strengthening. Use your imagination and practice being different animals such as bear, frog, kangaroo, flamingo, horse, and crab.
Practice throwing small balls into laundry baskets using an overhand throw. ○ Start with very close distance to work on accuracy increasing distance to up to 5 feet away.
Stepping over hurdles to encourage practicing single leg balance
Hurdles can be created by using any objects around the house such as tying string around two objects or building hurdles out of large blocks.
They can also be created using pool noodles in the yard outdoors.
4-5 year olds:
Be creative and construct your own outdoor obstacle course using various objects around the house
Use string/jump rope to walk on in order to encourage improving balance skills or use string/jump rope to tie around chairs or table legs to create hurdles
Encourage balancing on one foot for 5 seconds or longer
Practice jumping with two feet progressing to one foot by using hula hoops as place markers
Encourage climbing up/down slides or across playsets
Play simon says with activities such as skipping, galloping, balancing on one leg
Complete pool noodle sit-ups to work on core strengthening. Lie flat on your back and hold a pool noodle in both hands above your head. Perform a sit up and touch the noodle to your knees, feet, or toes. Call out different body parts for your child to touch the noodle to.
Have a balloon toss competition by keeping a balloon up in the air or try catching it with a funnel to improve balance and upper extremity coordination
5-6 year olds:
Play Hopscotch using chalk outdoors or play indoors by using tape to make blocks on the floor.
Encourage hopping on one foot and alternating jumping patterns.
You can also challenge child by adding letters to each block in order to help with letter recognition.
There are so many opportunities to incorporate math skills into every day activities. Since this week we have been focused on Pete the Cat getting ready for school, we should go find some socks and shoes!
Children love to help around the house when you make it a game… this makes laundry and/or cleaning up a game AND learning! BONUS POINTS!!
Have your child find all of his/her shoes around the house, if your kiddos are like mine, the shoes are scattered about. Now make sure they are a matching pair. Have your child put the shoe away with the right and left on the correct sides, see sneaking in another skill… and setting the shoes up to wear. Next time you do laundry, have your child sort and match the socks.
When we sort and match in school we use the words: sort, attributes, pair, matching, same, different, set
You can also have your child count the sets of shoes/socks. State: How many pairs of shoes do you think you have? (this is estimating) Ok, let’s find out! You will probably need to show they how as they will typically count each shoe/sock not the pair.
If your child is comfortable with numbers you can show them how to count by twos to see how many shoes in total. State: “Ok so you have 4 pairs of shoes, how many shoes do you have in total?” They will now count each shoe. “Do you think there is a faster way to count the shoes?” See what your child comes up with on his/her own and then you can show him/her how to count by twos.
Want to add in more… “Who do you think has the most pairs of shoes in our family?” “How can we figure this out?” Now you are comparing sets. Plus they will most likely straighten up everyone’s shoes in the process!
As spring is finally, maybe, showing up and staying longer and longer, it is time to spend more time outside. Many of the activities I have shared can be moved outside and I will try to provide simple alterations to taking the learning outside.
Today’s fun Friday activity is made for being outside. You can do this in your backyard or while going on a social distance walk around your neighborhood. Scavenger hunts are a great way to encourage your child, and you, to look at the details you might overlook normally.
I created two suggestions for you, but you and your child can create his/her own criteria. I also used two different formats for collecting the information, but there are many other ways too.
The first one looks for colors. Where can you find each color. Have your child do a quick illustration of the item they found of each color. What colors are easy to find and which are more challenging? Can you find only living or nonliving things to represent each color?
The second I created a specific item search. How many of each item can you find? I drew ten frames to collect the amount, but you could also teach your child to tally count, or even create a graph to collect the quantity. Have your child think of his/her own list of items they think will be seen on the walk. If you are going into the woods or by a pond, then switch it up to match the items you would see specific to that ecosystem.
Create the form before you leave the house. Then provide your child with a clipboard, pen (if you attach it with a string it won’t get lost and they will think it is the coolest), and head out. Talk about what you see. Conversation is a key tool in learning. This chat you have with your child is a critical. It provides engagement. It allows for higher level thinking. Remember to talk to your child with “big” words, use science terms… they love it and soak it up!
Today I decided would be a good day to do a STEAM challenge. We do these often in the classroom, and the kiddos love the challenge. Today’s challenge only needs three items: a sheet of paper, a pair of scissors and a way to stick paper together (glue, stapler, tape).
Each person needs one sheet of paper the same size. Show your child how to create a paper chain. Then each person needs to cut their paper into strips and turn the strips into chains.
When all the paper is gone. Compare the lengths of everyone’s chains. The person with the longest chain wins.
This project works on a few skills. Fine motor skills of cutting straight lines, turning the paper to make the chain and gluing. Strategy/problem solving… how do I go about making the longest chain? Predicting. Measuring. Comparing lengths and so much more!
Today I decided to rope everyone into completing an art project together. This was a simple make it your way project.
Colby helped prep the pages by drawing dots randomly around the page. We then went back and made them a bit darker.
Each family member had his/her own sheet with a different dot configuration. Next we connected the dots with a marker. I used a gray marker instead of black and you could still see the dots as well as the lines, my sons used black and you only see the lines. It doesn’t really matter, but I just liked seeing the lines still.
We then began the process of coloring. Both my sons already knew what they wanted the finished picture to look like before coloring. I think my husband did too and connected his dots to look like something specific. Me… I went with geometric shapes and then when I was done coloring I transformed it into something-ish.
Something to remember with this project is there is no right or wrong way. It is a matter of being creative and just seeing where it goes from there. I find that I often am met with opposition when I propose these projects, but they all enjoy them and often ask to do it again another day.