First off, what is a gross motor skill? Gross motor skills are activities that involve the large muscles of the body.
In child development, it’s so important to be exposed to activities that help develop all the muscles in their bodies. As adults we try implementing exercise regimens, but even as adults we have a really hard time with that.
So as always, we want to find fun and interactive ways to help kids succeed whether it’s academically or whether it’s in developing gross motor skills.
One of my favorite ways to implement gross motor skills is by creating an obstacle course. It really doesn’t matter how young or old someone is, kids of all ages love obstacle courses.
I literally make an obstacle course every week in my class.
One of the many things I love about obstacle courses are that they can be different every time. Kids can help create them too (which works on even more skills).
Another thing I love is that you can just use things around the house. I am fortunate enough to work at a clinic designed by an Occupational Therapist, so our equipment is pretty awesome, but it’s so easy to just use pillows, blankets, tape, chalk, or anything else at home to make an obstacle course.
What you want to think about when you’re making a course is what is your purpose? Here are some ideas of why you might want to do an obstacle course.
- Just for fun
- Gross motor skills
- Problem solving
- Language skills
- Circles of Communication
- Perceptual motor skills
- Executive functions
- Response inhibition
- Math skills
Whether you’re working on gross motor skills, or if there’s a different developmental skill you want to target, this activity is great for so many reasons!
It’s adaptable, so be flexible depending on who you’re working with, and what stage of play the child is at.
- Have your child help gather supplies and help create the obstacle course. This will give some good heavy work, problem solving, and cooperation.
- Find ways to implement a variety of movement. Here are some examples:
- Jump from pillow to pillow
- Jump in one spot 5 times
- Jump to touch a target on the wall
- Jump on a trampoline 10 times
- Jump and do a trick at the same time
- Jump and touch your toes
- Jump over a stuffed animal
- Hop on one foot
- Jump like a frog
- Crawl under a table
- Crawl through a tunnel
- Crawl to the other side of the room
- Crawl and push a ball across the room with your nose
- Crawl under a rope
- Crawl over a pile of pillows or blankets
- Crawl up the stairs
- Turn around 6 times
- Spin on a Sit n’ Spin
- Put your nose on a bat and spin around 3 times
- Run around a toy 4 times
- Spin on one foot
- Play a game of ring around the rosies
- Put painter’s tape on the floor and walk across it
- Balance on one foot for 5 seconds
- Balance a toy on your child’s head and have her walk to the next obstacle
- Balance a gummy bear on a spoon while doing an obstacle
- Walk across a balance beam
- Run around the couch 2 times
- Run like a cheetah
- Put a ball on one side of the room and a garbage can on the other side. Run and get the ball and put it in the can
- Put different colored paper around the room. Run and get all the red paper
- Run along a line of tape
- Put pictures of animals around the room and when you name one, have your child run to it
- Name a color and have your child run and touch something that color
- Climb up a slide the right (or wrong) way
- Climb up the stairs
- Climb onto a bunk bead
- Climb a ladder to the trampoline
Extra Tips & Ideas
- There are a lot of different ways you can create an obstacle course. It can be different every time, which makes this a fun activity to do all the time.
- Make an outdoor obstacle course using sidewalk chalk.
- Use painter’s tape on your kitchen floor
- Do it in one room, or go throughout the whole house. Use the stairs, beds, and tables as your props.
- Add animal action cards in your course. Then change where they are in the course when you’re ready for something new.
Access The Full Tutorial
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As a member of the EI Tutorials, you will learn how to:
- Identify a child’s developmental level
- Understand the stages of play
- Learn how to help a child with limited play skills
- Implement specific techniques to increase communication and engagement
- Adapt activities to different stages of development
- Target specific developmental skills, including: communication skills, cognitive skills, executive functioning, motor skills, social skills, and adaptive skills
Adapting to Different Stages of Play
Depending on a child’s stage of development, you’ll want to adapt this activity based on goals that would be appropriate for the child’s growth.
The stages of play are:
- Stage 1: Unoccupied Play
- Stage 2: Solitary Play
- Stage 3: Onlooker Play
- Stage 4: Parallel Play
- Stage 5: Associative Play
- Stage 6: Cooperative Play
I’ll share ideas on how to do this in the Early Intervention Tutorials. You can become a member and gain access to this tutorial by going to: https://autismearlylearning.com/ei-tutorials-info/
In this section, I’ll identify which areas of development this activity targets. I’ll also give some pointers on how to specifically target each area. You can become a member of the Early Intervention Tutorials by going to: https://autismearlylearning.com/ei-tutorials-info/
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