Gross Motor Skills
You might be asking yourself, "What does OT have to do with gross motor skills?" or "I thought PT worked on gross motor skills?" You're right! PT does work on gross motor skills. However, OTs do too!
When I was in graduate school, one of my professors told us, "If you don't remember ANYTHING else from grad school, what I want you to remember is this phrase..."
Proximal Stability for Distal Mobility.
What does this mean?
Basically, what this means is that in order to have success using your "distal" body parts, such as your hands, arms, legs and feet, you need to have stability at your "proximal" core. Think about it this way... if you're completely slouched over in your chair and you're trying to use your arms, it's going to be really difficult to do so. Or, if you're leaning significantly to one side while walking, it's going to affect your balance. In order to have success with fine motor tasks, it's VERY important to also work on core strengthening which can be accomplished by incorporating gross motor tasks. While gross motor skills are PTs area of expertise, it's also beneficial to work on these skills in OT as well!
There are SO many ways to work on gross motor skills by simply using common household items/toys that you may already have!
Here are just a few suggestions...
Alphabet Fit Game! Get your body moving with this FIT exercise. Follow the guide to spell out the letters of your child's name, or combine it with spelling site words! Here is a link to print out if needed.
Animal Movements! There are SO many activities that use animal movements to work on yoga poses, core strengthening, motor control, etc. This is one that I love for all ages. Create a starting point and an ending point using floor tape, dot spots, construction paper, pillows, etc. Here is a link to more!
Floor/Masking Tape Paths! Create paths/mazes on the floor using tape! You could also create the same activity using chalk outside! Walk, jump, or hop while trying to stay on the line of choice. You could also increase the challenge by incorporating tools like a paint roller to crawl and push along the lines, OR by walking the line while balancing a plastic egg on a wooden spoon.
Bean Bag Toss! It can be as simple as marking paper plates with scores and tossing bean bags onto them! Don't have bean bags? You can make them! Use some old socks with dried beans, rice, cereal, etc. Or, use pool rings, frisbees, rocks, etc.
Balloon Tennis! Tapping a balloon back and forth is a great gross motor activity. You can create this "balloon tennis" game by using balloons and fly swatters! Don't have a fly swatter? You can use a wooden spoon, a tennis racket, or even a ruler!
Giant Ring Toss! This game is SO fun!!! Tie a long rope to a hula hoop and scatter soccer balls, basketballs and dodgeballs all across the yard. Throw the hula hoops over a ball and reel it in using the long rope. Collect the most to win!
As a therapist, I LOVE this little tools called Squigz. They're basically just little toy suction cups, but you can use them for SO many different things! Challenging your child's balance is such a great task to promote core strengthening. Even if you don't have a balance board and Squigz as pictured below, your child could stand on a pillow, sit on an exercise ball, or stand on a large foam mat while picking up manipulatives from the floor (i.e. pom-poms, toys, plastic utensils, coins, etc.).
**It is important to note that you should ALWAYS stand close to your child while completing activities that work on balance to prevent any injuries or falls.**
Movement Breaks! There are so many great movement break videos. GoNoodle is a great resource. I love their video of Can't Stop The Feeling by Justin Timberlake (Trolls Movie).
You can also find so many movement break videos on YouTube. I love the Shake Break song! I also love the Animal Dance and Freeze!
Or, just put on a song that makes you want to dance! Some of my favorites include Just Dance's Shake It Off by Taylor Swift, Just Dance's (Despicable Me) Bad Day by Pharrell, and Just Dance's U Can't Touch This by MC Hammer.