Simple Activities to Develop Gross Motor Skills in Children (that cost almost nothing)

Free Activities to help build Gross Motor Skills in Children 

Are you looking for activities to develop gross motor skills in children?  Then this list is perfect for you.  Gross movements consist of large muscle groups and whole body movements.  Gross motor skills involve movement and coordination of the arms, legs and other large body parts. These skills develop in a head-to-toe order.  The first gross motor development a child achieves is holding their head up.  Children learn head control, trunk stability, crawling, pulling themselves up, standing and finally walking.  This is a starter list of activities to develop gross motor skills in children that cost almost nothing.


Animal movement cards for toddler movement activities


If you would like more activities to develop gross motor skills, be sure to print your list of Free activities to Develop Gross Motor Skills. 



Children jumping outside is a gross motor activity that kids will have fun doing.

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Toddlers and Preschoolers have tons of energy that they need to expel in some form or another.  Is your child running around the house and you don’t know what to do?  These activities will help get out some energy and get them moving.  Here are some activities to help your toddler and preschooler build up those large muscles.  Start slow and move onto harder activities as your child grows and builds their muscles.


You don’t need a large space or a big house for these activities.  These gross motor activities will not give you more space, but start to shift how you look at the space you have.


When I had my first classroom as a Special Education Pre-School Teacher I worked in a school that had no gym.  So during the winter months when we couldn’t use the playground it was up to me to find ways to get them moving inside the classroom.  It was a small space with 8 children and 3 adults.  I had to come up with ideas to get them moving and learning with minimal space and supplies.


I believe in a movement-based, whole-body approach to learning. You will be amazed at how much children will learn as they play.



Gross Motor Activities for Children that are FREE


Inside Gross Motor Activities




Two boys in the crib playing with balloons. Balloons are an easy gross motor activities.

Kids just love balloons.  They are a cheap, easy way of getting your child moving.  Blow up a few balloons and stand back.  Let your little one kick or throw the balloon to you.  Play “Don’t Let the Balloon Touch the Ground”.  Just walking and moving the balloons out of the way are good movements.

-For my sons birthdays, we blow up dozens of balloons.  The kids love it and gets them moving.  We started this with my oldest sons first birthday.  He’s 6 now and continues to love balloon extravaganza.  We play with balloons for weeks.  Here is a picture of the start to balloon extravaganza.


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*Cotton Snow Ball fight—


Simple activities to develop gross motor skills in children


Of course, if real snow is outside then go for a real snowball fight.  Though most of the year real snow-balls aren’t an option.  Have a snowball fight instead.  You don’t have to worry about the cold. It’s easy cleanup and lots of fun.

-I’ve worked with some students before that were adverse to cold items.  Playing with cotton balls are a great way to play the game and mimic movements but not be in the cold weather.


*Simon Says—

Simon says gets your little one moving and following directions at the same time.  Here are some movements that you can add beside –touch head, touch toe and so.

-Spin around

-Move like a robot

-Hop on one foot



-Walk backwards


*Act like an Animal–

This is just like Simon Says but with animals.  In our house, we like this better than the traditional Simon Says.  It gets the kids moving and learning about animals.  You can also have them make sounds as they move like that animal.  It’s tons of fun.

-Hop like a Bunny

-Gallop like a Horse

-Slither like a Snake

-Crawl like a bear

-Walk like an Elephant

-Fly like a bird ….. Anything you can think of.

Animal movement cards for toddler movement activities


 *Find the Shape—-

Cut shapes out of construction paper and put them all over the floor.  Ask your little one to get each shape.  Do different movements to get different shapes. Ex- Hop to the square.  They are walking, bending to pick up and identify shapes.  You can do this with any other picture you want.  Use transportation pictures, animal pictures, letters, and even numbers.  It’s a fun way for your child to learn and move.



*Paper Plate Skating—


Simple activities to develop gross motor skills in children


Get some paper plates, step on them and do some skating.  This is a great exercise for the adults too.



*Bean Bag Toss—

We use our laundry baskets to toss the bean bags into.  You could use anything you like including cans, boxes etc.



 *Pillow Fight-


Child hiding under three pillows. Activities to Develop Gross Motor Skills in Children.

That’s right, a good old fashion pillow fight.  You can put some pillows on the floor for cushions or just stay on the couch.  Kids love this because they think they’re doing something they’re not supposed to.


*Build a Fort


Activities to Build Gross Motor Skills

You can put some pillows on the floor for cushions or just stay on the couch.  Kids love this because they think they’re doing something they’re not supposed to.  Once the fort is built, children have to climb or crawl to get around.  Here is a picture of the latest fort.




If you are stretching or doing jumping jacks it gets your body moving.  Amazon Prime has great movement videos for kids.  Get tons of fun and exciting movement videos for kids here.


This is my son doing one of the yoga videos.


Dance Party 

Play some music and have a dance party.  You can teach your kids how to play freeze dance.  If you play fun, uplifting music it’s natural that your kids will start to move.

Head over to my Instagram page to see my little having his own dance party.



Hula Hoop


Develop gross motor skills using a hula hoop.

These are fun in the traditional way, but that it hard for many little kids.  You can instead put the hula hoop on the floor and have then jump in and out.  If you get a few hoops it’s even more fun.  As your children learn to jump then you can go to the next level and have them jump on 1 foot.  They can throw balls and try and get them inside the hoop.



Outdoor Gross Motor Activities


Boy and girl playing outside building gross motor skills





Chalk laid out on a blacktop. Playing with chalk is a gross motor activity.


Draw Hop-scotch, Follow the line, make shapes, draw your favorite animal…. the ideas are endless.

The simple act of chalk drawing works the whole body in continuous up and down motions.




Work together to develop gross motor skills in children



Are you looking for dozens of gross motor, fine motor, and independent activities for your toddler?  This Toddler Enrichment Ebook is everything you need to get that much needed minute of peace. 

Toddler Enrichment Ebook. Help your child learn while maintaining your sanity.



*Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles


Young girl playing with bubbles outside is a nice activity to develop gross motor skills


What child doesn’t like bubbles??  I’ve never met one.  Children will naturally go towards bubbles.  They could walk towards them, reach, jump, stomp and grab the bubbles.  Anyway, they try and get the bubbles is movement.






Scavenger Hunt

Go outside and have a nature scavenger hunt.  Find rocks, birds, trees, bugs and anything you can think of.



Take a Walk

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Don’t put your child in a stroller or wagon and have them walk.  You don’t have to go far, maybe just around the block.


Play in the snow or Sand

Depending on the season and where you live go out and play in the sand or snow. Playing in the sand or snow is also a great sensory activity. You can dig a hole in the sand or snow.  Grab a shovel and have your kids go to it.  This will really work those upper arm muscles.



Depending on the season, swimming is a terrific way to build gross motor skills.  Any way kids move in the pool is working those muscles.  Let them splash, kick and do circles with their arms.




Related Reading for building motor skills in kids

Activities to Build Fine Motor Skills in Preschoolers

Activities to Build Fine Motor skills for Toddlers



Remember to print your list of Free Activities to Build Gross Motor Skills here.




Activities to Develop Gross Motor Skills in Children

Anyway, you use them will build gross motor skills.  Throw, catch, kick or roll the ball.  Using a ball makes it easy to use those large muscles and build gross motor skills in children.





Park is a great activity to develop gross motor skills in children


The playground is made to build gross motor skills in children.  You don’t have to do anything else.  Let your child walk, run, climb and explore.




Children have a variety of individual strengthens and weakness.  Strengthening the upper body muscles is essential for development and control.  Use this list to work on building gross motor skills.



I’d love to hear some simple activities to develop gross motor skills that you do with your little one.  It’s always good to hear suggestions.


East Activities to help develop Gross Motor Skills in Children


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Easy ways to build gross motor skills at home. Kids running

Gross Motor activities for children



  1. Ida says:

    These are all great activities! I love taking my kids walking in the forest, where they have to climb over rocks, roots and branches. The uneven walking ground is fantastic for gross motor skills! Plus there’s the additional perk of being outside and enjoying nature 🙂

    1. ExploreKidTalk says:

      Ida that wonderful. You are spending time with family and helping to develop gross motor skills in children. Just by walking gin different areas on uneven ground they are working on balance and coordination too. So glad you liked the list. Enjoy!

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