5 Ways to Improve Gross Motor Skills Over the Summer

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Summer is here and it means warmer temperatures and kids hopefully being outside and more active. Summer is a great time to work on improving gross motor skills, especially core and strengthening activities that can benefit your child for the coming school months. Today I am going to share some fun and easy ways you can improve gross motor skills over the summer.

Improve those gross motor skills over the summer with these 5 fun ideas!

This post is sponsored on behalf of The ABC's Of Movement Activity Cards. All thoughts and opinions are 100% honest and my own. 

5+ Ways to Improve Gross Motor Skills Over the Summer

1. Swimming – It won't come as a surprise that swimming is first on the list. We actually started swim lessons just a couple of weeks ago with my almost 3-year-old. Even if it's just a basic beginner's class, swim lessons or just swimming, in general, is a great way for your child to improve bilateral coordination skills (using both sides of the body together), core strengthening, and overall muscle strengthening.

2. Riding Bikes – Again for bilateral coordination skills, visual motor skills, core strengthening, and more, riding bikes is an excellent summer gross motor activity. And even for the smaller ones, these Stridor balance bikes are awesome, we plan on getting on here soon for Ellie. Here's a great sensory activity using bikes as well. 

3. Going to the Play-Ground – Just going to your local playground is a great gross motor experience. It's even better if you can find one of the older playgrounds that have monkey bars, climbing jungle gyms, merry-go-rounds, etc. I know many of these pieces of play equipment are considered “unsafe” or controversial to have in playgrounds, but kids really are missing out on some amazing vestibular and proprioceptive experiences when these things are missing. Of course, use your own best judgment and never leave your child unattended when playing on any of these items.

4. Outdoor Bowling Games or Hula Hoop Throwing Games – You don't want to forget to include some upper body/fine motor and visual-motor skills with those gross motor ones.

Outdoor bowling games or hula hoop games are a perfect way to include these skills. Make your own DIY bowling game to set up in the driveway or really fun tire run using hula hoops. You can also use the hula hoops as targets for throwing a football, baseball, or basketball.

5. Use the ABC's Of Movement Activity Cards outside – I really like these movement cards and they can be used in SO many ways during the summer. Not only are your kids going to get some amazing gross motor skills practice, but they will be improving their language and alphabet skills without even knowing it over the summer. Here are some ideas you can do while using the ABC's of Movement Cards outside:

  • Relay Race – Have your child/children line up and run to pick up a card at the designated place and bring it back to tag the next child. Before they can tag the next child however, they have to complete the movement that is on the card.
  • Include in an outdoor obstacle course – Include climbing, jumping over or through items, tunnels etc, and then include some of the ABC's of Movement cards at the the end the obstacle course.
  • Take them to the pool and have the children complete the movements in the water! Talk about adding in some extra fun on this one! Take the cards with you to the pool and start calling out movements for your child to do in the water.

Photo Credit: Virynja // Copyright 2015 Dollar Photo Club 

For more resources like this one, check out the links below.

Summer Developmental Activities for Kids, plus free printable.

Heather Greutman, COTA

Heather Greutman is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant with experience in school-based OT services for preschool through high school. She uses her background to share child development tips, tools, and strategies for parents, educators, and therapists. She is the author of many ebooks including The Basics of Fine Motor Skills, and Basics of Pre-Writing Skills, and co-author of Sensory Processing Explained: A Handbook for Parents and Educators.

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  1. My daughter whom is 15 months old loves the swing. She could spend 30 mins on the swing lives to be pushed very high and she’ll put her hands on the air. It’s lots of fun. Is this providing any gross motor benifit? She also often just walks around looking at stuff should I be encouraging her to do more? We go almost everyday.

  2. Just LOVE all the ideas (especially #5) 🙂

  3. Amy Winters says:

    Thanks for pointing out that participating in an obstacle course that includes climbing, jumping, etc is a good way to improve a child’s motor skills. My niece has really been struggling to develop her motor skills, from from writing her name to being successful in sports. I’ll definitely give her parents a call and suggest they try an obstacle course camp!

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