Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Indoor Gross Motor Activities

Today it is cold and rainy outside. That means my kids didn't get to play outside like they typically do before and/or after supper. Now that it's November, there will be more and more days like this where we have to be entertained indoors.

Here are a few ideas that I use to keep my kids involved in gross motor activities while staying indoors, and maybe they will work for you too:

1. "Simon Says": I usually start out as Simon while playing with just my 7 year old daughter, then my 2 year old son usually joins us and tries his best to imitate everything his big sis does. I tend to call out these commands: standing on one foot, animal imitations (bird, cow, donkey, bear, crab, snake, etc), twirling, jumping jacks, clap while jumping, tip-toe walk, heel walk, jump from side-to-side, clap hands over their heads or behind their backs, touch one hand to the opposite foot, and walk backwards.

2. Obstacle course: We have a big space in our living room and entry way that makes a great location for an obstacle course. We use our fabric tunnel, mini-trampoline, fabric tent, blankets draped over the back of chairs, large pillows, couch cushions, and a hula-hoop to either jump in-an-out of or to climb through. I have the kids go through the obstacle course consecutively together or to do it individually while "racing the clock". Motions involved include climbing over, under, and through, jumping forward and backward, crawling forward or backward, and rolling (log or forward).

3. Kids yoga or other exercise videos: my children's favorite video is from Yoga Kids (R); the poses on the video are fun and in alphabetical order, A-Z. "A" is a pose that looks similar to an alligator and "R" is a pose that looks similar to a rocking horse. The suggested ages are 3-5 years, but I think many 2 year olds can at least try it. My son probably is motivated to try the poses because his sister and I are doing them as well.

4. Chores: I completely believe in child labor and teaching kids to be responsible for chores! They are good for building strength and coordination! My kids help carry bags from the car as well as clean their rooms or any other area where they have played and made a mess. Both of my kids like to help fold towels, not that they are excellent at it, but at least they are active and trying! My older child is also expected to make her bed and help "set the table" before dinner.

5. Cooking: stirring batter and rolling out dough is lots of upper body gross-motor fun! Pounding over the food chopper can be quite a blast also!

6. Dress-up: My kids like to play dress up and then act out the character. We have costumes for Peter Pan, Captain Hook, various princesses, cowboy, police man, baseball, soccer, as well as random hats, scarves, and shoes to play with.

7. Playing games in various positions: I like to play card games with my daughter while we are facing each other and propped on our forearms lying on our bellies. I like to draw and color with my son while we are standing at his easel. It is also fun to draw while on paper taped to the bottom of a table or chair while lying under it, but I am not sure I trust him with this yet, maybe as he gets closer to 3 years of age! Sometimes my daughter and I sing songs while we are hanging off of the couch with our heads on the floor...can only do this one for a short amount of time!

8. Sing songs with body actions: "Wheels on the Bus", "Ants Go Marching", "Row, Row, Row, Your Boat", "Getty Up Horsie", and "Ring-Around-the-Rosie". These are fun as long as you have energy to keep up with your kids!

Use your imagination to keep the kids active! Just remember not to over-use video games and television during the autumn and winter months. Keeping kids moving is important for motor and cognitive development as well as to reduce chances of obesity!

For ideas of indoor activities for children with sensory processing disorder (SPD) or autism (ASD) known as a sensory diet, check out the following website Also, ask your child's occupational, physical, and/or speech therapist for a handout on activities to do at home to keep your child busy. This will also greatly impact behavior because they won't be bored!

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