Children need to develop their core muscles to be able to sit to write, their gross motor skills to move their shoulders and arms, and their fine motor skills to be able to move their hands and fingers. Sometimes, when children are finding handwriting tricky, supporting their wider physical skills can have a huge impact and should be the focus rather than just lots and lots of handwriting practice.
In part 1 of this blog, we offer suggestions for practical activities to develop gross motor skills and in part 2 there are lots of activities to develop fine motor skills.
Gross motor activities
1. Pushing, pulling and carrying. These are great movements for developing shoulder muscles. Set up opportunities for your child to push, pull and carry objects. They could push toy cars through paint or along the carpet. You could put a teddy in the wash basket and encourage children to give teddy a trip around the living room or garden. Using tools such as rakes, brooms and shovels is great too. If you have a garden space, give children a broom, throw a bucket of water on the patio and get children sweeping the water.
2. Set up a daily circuit of movements, stretches or balances. Activities such as hopping, skipping, jumping, lunging, and balancing are all great for strengthening muscles and developing a strong core. You could watch and join in with a kid’s yoga video online, try a Joe Wicks workout or ask your child to share some of the stretches and balances they have done in PE at school. Why not try some of the core movements from the Learning at Home Activity Books (pages 54-55).
3. Move like an animal. Choose different animals and try and move like them using your whole body. You could be a frog, bird, snake, elephant, or penguin. When doing this, children will be using a wide range of muscles.
4. Obstacle Course. Plan and set up an obstacle course together. This could be inside or outside, just tailor the activities to your space. Try to include a variety of different movements such as animal walks, crawling, wheelbarrow, jumping, running, hopping, skipping, throwing, and catching. Make some hurdles for your course using paper, card or a small box such as a cereal box. You could include some ‘wacky races’ such as potato and spoon races or balancing beanbags on heads.
5. Have a game of Twister, Simon Says or Follow My Leader. These are great for practising all sorts of body movements. Try to include actions to use lots of different body parts, such as standing on one leg, balancing with one foot and one hand touching the ground, jumping, hopping or skipping.
6. Bouncing, throwing and bat and ball games. If you can safely get outside in a back garden, have a game of tennis or badminton. This is great for physical development as well as hand eye coordination. You can create this game for inside using a balloon for a ball and create bats or rackets out of cardboard tubes, a fly swatter or a paper plate. Balls and beanbags are great for throwing, catching and aiming into hoops or nets. You could create targets using cardboard boxes or tubs.
7. Large art. Being creative on a large scale can be fun whilst also developing bigger muscles. Lay large pieces of paper on the floor for children to fill with big sweeping lines and motions (the bigger the better). Try hanging or pegging paper outside on a washing line, on an easel or against a garden wall. For a less messy option, paint an outside patio or wall using a bucket of water and big paint brush or roller!
8. Air writing. Make big shapes, patterns or letters in the air using your entire arm. You could make some ribbon rings using curtain rings and some offcuts of ribbons. Swirl patterns in the air and describe the movement as you make them.
9. Household activities. There are a lot of things to do around the home that can help. Movements such as wiping tables, cleaning windows and rolling pastry or play dough using a rolling pin are all great for movement.
10. Dancing. Put on your favourite music and just dance!
Have a go at these and then take a look at part 2 for fine motor activities.