Help Your Child Develop While Having Fun in the Sun
With summer just around the corner, it’s fun to look forward to spending lots of time outside playing in the sun. For children, play is their work! It lays the foundations for academic and critical thinking, helps them learn about themselves, and develop language and motor skills. Parents can help their children develop strength, gross motor skills, bilateral coordination, balance, spatial, perceptual, visual-motor, and lots of other important foundational skills just by playing some simple games and activities outside with them.
Pediatric Therapeutic Services (PTS, Inc.) can equip parents with at-home gross motor skill activities. PTS, Inc. not only has a plethora of parent resources full of activity ideas but also makes sure parents understand they are key players in reaching their child’s IEP goals.
In other words, we’ll give you the tools you need to help your child grow, prepare for a new school year, and have a blast this summer.
Below, five of PTS’ top school-based physical therapists share their favorite summertime activities to help kids get ready for school!
12 Gross Motor Skill Activities For Summer Fun
- Activities With Sidewalk Chalk- Rachel Mandel says: Sidewalk chalk is inexpensive and easy to find, and there are so many ways to use it. Children can draw a line on the sidewalk and practice doing lateral hops, or “side to side jumps,” over the line. Another idea is to have children draw a curved line or another type of line pattern on the ground and practice walking on the lines as if they were walking on a tightrope. Children with more advanced skills can practice either bouncing and catching a ball along the lines or following the lines while dribbling a ball. They can also use chalk to draw lines for a game of four square or hopscotch, or to create targets on the ground to practice throwing balls with accuracy.
- Jump Rope- Angela Kea says: Got a jump rope? Then you’ve got the perfect “all-in-one” tool. Children can turn the rope to develop shoulder range of motion. They can also jump in the rope for coordination if there are other people to turn it. Tie the rope to two stable ends, and the student can jump over it forward and sideways for leg strength as you adjust the height. Parents can make the jump rope wiggle like a snake on the ground, and the child has to jump far over it.
- Balloon Tennis- Cyndi Slomowitz says: Try hitting a balloon with a tennis or badminton racquet. This exercise helps with gross motor skills development and supports kids’ hand-eye coordination. Win-win!
- “Balance Beam” Curbs- Amanda Herrold says: Play “balance beam” on the curbs outside–just watch out for cars. Assist children as they practice walking on the curb without falling off. Then, you can work on them jumping off of the curb with their two feet together. I loved doing this one as a kiddo myself!
- Hopscotch- Victoria Wrightson says: “Old school” alert! While it may sound outdated, hopscotch is great for practicing single-leg balancing and jumping. It will strengthen your child’s coordination skills as well.
- Obstacle Courses- Rachel Mandel says: Children can use a wide variety of everyday objects to create obstacle courses. Find objects around the house or outside (child-friendly and safe ones, of course) and use them creatively to build the course. Line up such items as blocks, Lego bricks, or even canned goods on the ground for kids to step or jump over, depending on the child’s abilities. The building process is half the fun! For a greater challenge, you can place items about 6-8 inches apart in a row, and the child can “frog jump” over them. To further increase the difficulty level, the child could practice carrying an item around the obstacles. Or, the child might work her or his way around the obstacles while listening for cues from you—for instance, “red light” as a cue to stop and “green light” as a cue to go. The possibilities are truly endless!
- Geocaching- Cyndi Slomowitz says: Are you familiar with “the world’s largest treasure hunt?” Geocaching gets the whole family out into parks to find treasures from all over the world! Download a geocaching app, such as this one, to discover what geocaches (containers with cool objects inside) are in your area, just waiting for you to locate them.
- Challenger Leagues- Cyndi Slomowitz says: Search your area for either Little League baseball or cheerleading Challenger Divisions. These adaptive programs are designed specifically for individuals with physical and intellectual challenges. Joining and playing on a team encourages children to participate and help others out. Plus, it gets them moving!
- Water Balloon Catch- Amanda Herrold says: What can you do on those really hot summer days when you don’t want to leave your cool, air-conditioned house? Make your backyard more refreshing with a game of water balloon catch! When kids work on throwing and catching a water balloon, they learn how much strength is too much when gripping or tossing the balloon. It’s great fun for them.
- Hula Hoops- Victoria Wrightson says: Don’t forget about hula hoops! Kids can use this toy outside in a bunch of ways. Line them up to make a path either in the grass or on the sidewalk. Children can practice hopping from hoop to hoop with their feet together. They can also practice hopping sideways or backwards—if they dare! For toddlers and preschoolers, parents can hold a hula hoop vertically and have their child try to step through it to practice balance. Kids can also throw and catch hula hoops, which gives them a different experience than tossing a ball. Parents can also consider holding the hula hoop as a basketball hoop. Children can practice “shooting hoops” using different sized and weighted balls or bean bags. These exercises to develop motor skills are also great for working on upper body strength and visual-motor coordination.
- Playground Play- Cyndi Slomowitz says: Playgrounds are excellent environments for children to develop social skills. Climbing on park structures with other children, while building strength and coordination, also encourages kids to use such phrases as, “Can I have a turn?” Swinging is a great activity too. Ask your child to pump her or his legs as you supervise, and watch as she or he goes higher and lights up with glee!
- Bubbles!- Amanda Herrold says: Popping bubbles by clapping or poking them builds hand-eye coordination. Kids can also work on jumping up to reach the bubbles and running to chase after them.
Nothing prepares a child’s mind and body for school like playing their way through the summer! Plus, there are so many more toys and activities out there you can choose to use. See which ones your child responses to best.
If you have any questions about incorporating these gross motor skills activities into your child’s summer routine, PTS, Inc. can offer advice and assistance. Contact our office today!