health-pulse-gross-motor-skills banner health-pulse-gross-motor-skills banner
Preventive Care
Children's Health

Gross Motor Skills Activities for Children

18 December 2023 · 4 mins read


Find out how to develop your child’s gross motor skills with fun activities.

What Are Gross Motor Skills?

Gross motor skills, often seen in actions like running, jumping, and climbing, are the fundamental movements that involve the coordination of large muscle groups.

From a child's earliest attempts at walking to their more refined athletic abilities, these skills are the building blocks for physical development, impacting not just movement but also cognitive and social aspects.

The development of gross motor skills encompasses the coordination and control of large muscle groups in the arms, legs, and torso. Gross motor activities are crucial for fundamental physical tasks such as walking, running, throwing, lifting, and kicking. These skills serve as the foundation for refining fine motor skills and are linked to aspects such as balance, strength, body awareness and reaction speed.

Gross Motor Development Chart for Children

Age Developmental Milestones
0-6 months
  • Rolls over in both directions
  • Sit with support
6-12 months
  • Lifts head with anticipation
  • Crawls forward on belly
  • Sits unaided
  • Creeps on hands and knees
  • Transitions between sitting, on all fours, and lying on the tummy
  • Pulls self to a standing position
  • Walks while holding onto furniture
  • Takes 2-3 steps without support
  • Imitates rolling a ball like an adult
18 months
  • Climbs up and down stairs while holding onto a rail or with one handheld for support
  • Pulls toys or carries a doll while maintaining balance
  • Throws a ball without falling
  • Demonstrates the ability to sit on a chair
2 years
  • Walks up and down the stairs independently, 2 feet per step
  • Walks backwards at 21 months of age
  • Runs
  • Picks up toys from the floor without falling
  • Throws and kicks a ball without losing balance
2.5 years
  • Jumps on both feet
  • Walks on tiptoes
3 years
  • Climbs up stairs using one foot per step
  • Descends stairs using two feet per step
  • Jumps off the bottom step
  • Balances on one foot for a few seconds
  • Rides a tricycle
4 years
  • Walks up and down the stairs, 1 foot per step
  • Hops on one foot
  • Skips on one foot
5 years
  • Runs on toes
  • Skips on both feet
6 years
  • Walks heel to toe
  • Kicking
  • Climbing
  • Throwing

What Are the Gross Motor Skills Activities for Toddlers?

Gross motor skills activities are important for toddlers (1 to 3 years of age) because they help develop physical abilities and build confidence as the child gains strength and coordination in movement abilities.

Some examples of gross motor skills activities for toddlers:

  • Use a soft ball and encourage them to kick it.
  • Rolling, throwing, and catching a ball.
  • Balancing on one foot.
  • Climbing on a couch using pillows.
  • Simple obstacle course for them to navigate.
  • Walking up and down hills with minimal incline.
  • Jumping on a small trampoline or cushions.
  • Play music and encourage them to dance.
  • Use soft balls or beanbags for throwing and catching practice.
  • Provide ride-on toys or tricycles for them to pedal.
  • If appropriate and under close supervision, introduce water play.
  • Introduce simple yoga poses designed for toddlers, such as "downward dog".

What Are the Gross Motor Skills Activities for Preschoolers?

As children grow older, their gross motor skills continue to develop. Therefore, preschoolers (3 to 5 years of age) need opportunities to practice these skills and improve their coordination and balance.

Here are some examples of gross motor skills activities for preschoolers:

  • Set up a variety of obstacles like tunnels, cones, and hoops. Encourage climbing, jumping, and crawling through the course.
  • Playing hopscotch.
  • Playing with hula hoops.
  • Riding a bicycle or scooter.
  • Dancing and movement games.
  • Use child-sized jump ropes for hopping over and swinging.
  • Encourage safe exploration of basic gymnastics skills such as cartwheels, rolls and headstands.

Why Are Gross Motor Skills Necessary in a Child's Development?

Gross motor skills are developed through activities that involve large muscle groups, such as the legs, arms, and trunk. These skills are crucial for various physical activities and play a significant role in a child's daily life.

Here are some key reasons why gross motor skills are so crucial in a child's development:

  • Physical health: Gross motor skills contribute to a child's physical well-being by promoting strength, flexibility, and endurance. Activities that involve gross motor skills, such as running, jumping, and climbing, help keep children physically active and support the development of a healthy lifestyle.
  • Cognitive development: There is a strong connection between gross motor skills and cognitive development. Gross motor skills lay the foundation for more complex cognitive functions, as they stimulate brain development and neural connections. Activities that require coordination and balance contribute to improved cognitive abilities.
  • Emotional development: Gross motor skills are essential in emotional development, self-confidence, independence, and peer acceptance. These activities allow children to explore and experiment with their bodies, building self-confidence and self-esteem.
  • Social interaction: Many activities involve gross motor skills, such as group sports, games, and outdoor play. Engaging in these activities helps children develop social skills, including teamwork, cooperation, and communication.

Make an Appointment at Pantai Hospitals

Encouraging and fostering the development of gross motor skills in children is vital for their overall well-being. As parents, educators, and caregivers, you have a crucial role in promoting these essential skills. A child who has developed healthy gross motor skills early on will be generally more active, confident, reactive, emotionally stable, socially engaging and energetic. 

A dedicated and expert team of paediatricians at Pantai Hospital is available for consultation to provide the best care and assistance. Get in touch with us to book an appointment today if you have any concerns or questions regarding your child’s growth and development.

Pantai Hospitals have been accredited by the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) for its commitment to patient safety and service quality.

Suggested Articles