Archive of ‘Gross Motor’ category

Hula-Hoop Ball Roll For Toddlers

What toddler doesn’t love balls? I think “ball” was one of the first 5 words Peanut and all her friends said. They’re just so much fun! This activity incorporates a hula-hoop to trap the balls in and work on refining those gross motor skills.

Hula Hoop Ball Roll For Toddlers


  • A variety of balls, various colors, sizes, textures, and bounciness
  • A hula-hoop

By tossing the balls in the center of the hula-hoop I tried to create a barrier for them that Peanut could attempt to keep the balls in. I knew this was going to be a challenging task, since she’d probably run right up to the hoop and try to fling all the balls around as hard as she cool….which is exactly what she did.

Hula-Hoop Ball Roll for Toddlers

So, I had her chase down the runaway balls and bring them back in the hoop. Then I modeled a gentle roll for her and showed her how it stayed in the hoop. She tried, with a bit too much gusto and the ball still escaped. But, we continued to work on it and eventually she was able to keep the ball she rolled in the hoop sometimes. She liked aiming for other balls and making all of the balls move around in the hoop at once and she also enjoyed chasing the runaways down, claiming they were “crazy!” with big giggle. Peanut also liked picking up the hoop and shaking it around to make the balls move.

We switched out what balls were in the hoop from time to time to see how they acted differently when she rolled them and the balls ran into each other. Some proved impossible to keep in the hoop (even for me!) and some were so bouncy they’d hop right over all the other balls and out of the hoop. Changing the balls out little by little allowed this activity to keep Peanut engaged longer than simply throwing all of the balls in at the same time. Different combinations made for different kinds of fun!

What we talked about in play: 
“There are a lot of balls in the hoop!”
“What color is that one? It’s blue.”
“The red one got away! Go get it and bring it back!”
“Gently roll the ball, like this.”
“That was a nice roll.”
“Look at all the balls rolling around in there!”
“That was a crazy toss!”

This was a simple activity that worked at hand-eye coordination, gross motor for the whole body, and our colors all along the way!

P.S. I also learned, with quick moving activities like this I should use my DSLR instead of my iPhone….all my pictures came out blurry so I don’t have many to share with you, sorry!

Toddler Texture Dance Party

Peanut LOVES to dance. Recently I caught her dancing to the noise of hammering. So, I’ve been trying to think of new things we could do with her obsession of dancing. She already danced to all kinds of music and we do our best to teach her some new moves…finally, it hit me…let’s dance on stuff!

Toddler Texture Dance Party


  • Sand paper
  • blanket
  • felt
  • magazine or paper
  • shaggy rug or scratch rug
  • Damp towel
  • Changing pad or pillow
  • Any other fabrics or materials you have on hand that won’t hurt little feet!

Toddler Texture Dance Party

I set out our textures out on the floor near each other. Then, I turned the music on and we jammed! Peanut started busting moves right away and I had to bring her attention to the fact that she was dancing ON something. She’d get so busy dancing she wouldn’t move from one texture to another, it was like the texture she was on was her stage and she had to stand there!

Toddler Texture Dance Party

When I would encourage her to move to a new texture, she’d move and then stand there for a few seconds figuring out what was under her feet before she picked up dancing again. She enjoyed the most foreign textures (sand paper, the wet towel) the most and would stomp away.

Toddler Texture Dance Party

She spent a long time sitting on her changing pad (still dancing). She picked up the towel to fling around while she danced for a while. It was fun to watch her experience the different textures under her feet and see how she felt they needed to be incorporated into her dancing.

Toddler Texture Dance Party

The dancing continued for a while, until I think it hit her where the changing pad came from and she picked it up and carried it back to her room to put it away. Oh, my neat and tidy little Peanut.

Vocabulary used in play:

  • “What is that under your feet?”
  • “Is that scratchy?”
  • “That’s fuzzy, isn’t it?”
  • “Wow, you’re really moving those arms!”
  • “Keep boogying!”
  • “Oh, is that wet and cold?”
  • “Are you swinging the towel?”

All day I’ve had more ideas about what we could dance on next time: plastic wrap, a table cloth, a comforter, nearly anything!

Masking Tape Trail Gross Motor Activity

When it’s too hot to get outside (or too cold) getting gross motor play in can be harder than usual. This simple activity can provide your toddler or preschooler with important gross motor skills while keeping them in a comfortable climate!

Masking Tape Trail Gross Motor Activity for Toddlers


Painter’s Tape
Toy cars (We love these B. Wheeee-ls cars!)

To set up this activity I just stretched some painters tape over the floor in a large pattern. We did this on our laminate flooring, but it could be done on carpet as well. Playing on our laminate allowed us to use our pull and go toy cars without having to push them around.

Masking Tape Trail Gross Motor Play for Toddlers

The first thing I had Peanut do was simply walk along the tape and follow the shape. She immediately started saying, “Wee!” as she walked around and around. She’d get off course from time to time, but when she’d realize what she was doing, she’d get back on the tape. I didn’t except for her to be able to walk on the line backwards, but she attempted that on her own! She looked at me and giggled when she did it, letting me know just how clever she was. We also tried crawling along the tape, but I don’t think Peanut liked the hard floors on her knees. This would probably be one advantage of doing this on the carpet.


When she had enough walking on the tape, I broke out the toy cars. We pushed the cars along the tape for a while, racing them around. Then we started racing two cars with each other. This was the hardest part for Peanut. She could push the car right along the tape with her hand, but when she tried to pull the car back and release it, the car always went way off course. She was trying, but it really was hard to do.

Masking Tape Trail Gross Motor Play for ToddlersWhen we were done, I started pulling up the tape and Peanut started trying to get her own piece of tape off the floor on her own. I had to help her a bit, but once she got it up from the floor this may have been her favorite part. I made a big ball of tape for her to play with, as I thought it would be a pretty good sensory add-on, but Peanut has recently become obsessed with throwing trash away and as soon as I handed her the ball she started saying “trash” and heading for the trash can. Oh, well. I guess we’ll try for the sensory part of tape later. Haha!

Masking Tape Trail Gross Motor Play for Toddlers

Vocabulary used in play: 
“Walk on the line.”
“Stay on the tape.”
“Keep going!”
“You’re walking backwards!”
“Crawl on your hands and knees.”
“Push the cars.”
“Let’s race the cars!”
“Pull it back. Then let go, like this.”

It only took me about 2 minutes to set up this activity and if you don’t have your house on the market you could leave the tape down for a couple of days if you wanted to so you could come back to it later.

Tissue Paper Butterfly Toss

These easy to make butterflies can provide fun for days, especially if you introduce a bug net to the play!

Tissue Paper Butterfly Toss and Catch for Toddlers


To make the butterflies:

  1. Cut tissue paper into rectangles about 2.5 x 3 inches or so.
  2. Stack 2-3 pieces of tissue paper together.
  3. Pinch the rectangle in the middle.Tissue paper butterfly making
  4. Wrap 1 pipe cleaner around the pinched middle.Tissue paper butterfly making
  5. Done!

I pre-made the butterflies so Peanut wouldn’t have to wait on me making butterflies to be entertained. To introduce the activity to her I simply grabbed the butterflies and tossed them in the air over her head. She thought it was hilarious! She thought it was even better when I told her she could throw them around.

Tissue Paper Butterfly Toss and Catch for Toddlers

She ran around picking up one or two butterflies at a time and throwing them the best she could. I would collect as many as I could and toss them in the air for her to try and catch.

Tissue Paper Butterfly Toss and Catch for Toddlers

The next day I decided we’d add our bug net to the mix, which added a whole new level of fun. Not only could we collect all the butterflies in the net, we could flip them all back out again. She tried scooping them up in the net from the floor, but could never quite get them. She ended up mostly picking the butterflies up to put them in her net.

Tissue Paper Butterfly Toss and Catch for Toddlers

Vocabulary used in play:
“Catch the butterflies!”
“They’re flying!”
“Throw them.”
“Toss them.”
“Catch it!”
“Get the net.”
“Put the butterflies in the net.”

These little guys are great to keep handy in a Ziploc bag in a kitchen drawer or somewhere near where you might need a quick distraction. The net required a bit more supervision so Peanut didn’t end up knocking a picture off the wall, but the butterflies themselves are a great independent activity!

Hula Hoop Hop

When I found hula hoops at the dollar store that seemed more toddler-sized than big kid-sized, I knew we had to find something to do with the hoop. This activity was my first idea, but there will be more to follow!

Hula-Hoop Hop for Toddlers

Hula Hoop

Hula Hoop Hop for Toddlers

Even when we had the hula hoop in the cart at the dollar store Peanut was oohing and awing over it. I couldn’t wait until we got it home to play with it. When we got home, we took the hoop outside. I placed it on the ground and showed Peanut a variety of ways to interact with the hoop. We stepped in, stepped out, walked around it, tried hopping in and out. Stepping in and out and walking around the hoop was easy, but the hopping she needed help with. She’s thought about hopping for a long time, but doesn’t quite have it down.

Hola Hoop Hop for Toddlers

We also put the hoop over our head, pulled it up around us, and ran around with it. It was a challenge for her to maneuver the hoop around her body and wasn’t what I had planned for her gross motor, but it was a great addition! She also challenged herself by walking around with the hoop and even running down the hill with it at one point. Carrying it around and getting in it from time to time proved to be the most interesting part for Peanut.

Vocabulary used in play: 
“You’re in the hoop!”
“Can you get out of the hoop?”
“You’re out!”
“Get back in.”
“Let’s walk around the hoop.”
“Put it over you.”
“Lift the hoop up.”
“You’re carrying the hoop.”

Paper Ball Toss for Toddlers

Paper Ball Toss for Toddlers

Peanut loves to get into everything, especially any paper she can get her hands on. She loves to rip apart old magazines or open junk mail. Providing different experiences with paper keeps simple, independent activities fresh and new for toddlers. This activity would be great when you’re busy cooking or tending to something and your toddler needs to be busy!

Scrap paper of any type


Sometimes the simplest of activities can offer the most fun. This is one of those activities that doesn’t require any set up at all! I keep a collection of scrap paper in a drawer in the dining room, so all I had to do was grab some paper and toss it on the floor to prepare for this activity.

Paper toss for toddlers

Peanut was excited as soon as I tossed the paper down, but the first thing that came to mind was coloring. When I picked up a piece of paper and crumpled it up she got a huge grin on her face and picked up a piece to try it herself. Then I threw the paper and she started stomping her feet in excitement and followed my lead. She followed my lead for a while, picking up a piece of paper and crumpling it up as soon as I grabbed a new piece. She’d chase paper balls down, toss them for the dog to get (who had no desire to play with them), bring them to me, she even pushed one around in her baby stroller for a while.

Paper toss for toddlers

I was able to get up and work on dishes while she continued to play with the crumpled piece of paper by her self. She did occasionally bring one to me, but I’d toss it away for her to get and she’d be off again.

This activity is fun, but it also serves some important developmental skills as well. Making the paper into balls increases a little one’s hand strength and fine motor development, while all that tossing and running develops gross motor skills. Everyone loves an activity that works on both at the same time! Be sure you’re using pieces of paper that are large enough to make a ball that can’t be choked on if your toddler decides they want to get a taste of the ball!

Pick up

Outside Shadow Play for Toddlers

shadow playPeanut has recently been discovering her shadow when we’re outside on sunny days. I’ll catch her moving her arms and watching as her shadow copies her or see her bend down to try to touch it. I thought it would be fun to build on this new discovery and play with shadows!

Your bodies
A sunny day
Any other objects with moving shadows

We went outside on a bright, sunny morning when we had clear, crisp, uninterrupted shadows for this activity. I invited Peanut to come out into the sun with me and started making big movements she would copy. Once she was copying my movements and her shadow was dancing around I pointed it out on the ground. Then I made some more big movements and told her to look at her shadow when she started copying me. Immediately she stopped and tried to stop her foot on her shadow. Then she started moving on her own watching to see if her shadow would follow her lead.


In a couple of minutes she was done checking out her own shadow. I started blowing bubbles and pointing out their shadows on the ground. I told her to catch them and she tried a couple of times, but gave up pretty quickly to catch the real bubbles that popped when you touched them.

Shadow Play for Toddlers

After she was done with bubbles, I started tossing a ball in the air. This proved to be a bit hard for her to comprehend and she just watched the real-life ball instead of the shadow on the ground. I think we’ll continue to play with our shadows and work up to objects like this. Understanding shadows is a developmental stage that kiddos all reach at different points, but playing with your shadows is sure a fun way to start figuring out what the heck that thing following you around is!

Vocabulary we used while playing:
Get it

2×4 Balance Beam Activity for Toddlers

I always wish I had those big padded gross motor mats for Peanut to balance on and crawl all over. You know, the ones that are hundreds of dollars for one piece? So, I searched for a way to create some gross motor activities I could do at home where Peanut was able to balance and crawl on things. I got my inspiration when cleaning out the garage and I found several scrap pieces of 2×4.

2x4 Balance Beam for Toddlers

2×4 3-4 feet long

Image 5

To set up this activity all you have to do is find a place with a soft, but flat surface to put your 2×4 on, inside or out. Place the 2×4 and let your toddler go!

2x4 Balance Beam for Toddlers

This is another one of the activities I let my mom do with Kennedy while she was here for a visit. Since my mom is a teacher as well, she’s pretty good at leading these activities as well. :) She showed Peanut what to do and helped her walk across the board by holding her hand and leading her across.

2x4 Balance Beam for Toddlers

Every time Peanut crossed the board she offered less and less help, until Peanut was going the length of the board on her own. Of course she was stepping off, falling down, and all over…but she was getting some great balance practice in!

2x4 Balance Beam for Toddlers

In the end, Peanut ended up working on her arm muscles for her gross motor activity and not her balance. But, remember, we go with the flow when we’re playing with toddlers!

2x4 Balance Beam for Toddlers

We’ll come back to this activity again and add some difficulty to the balance challenge, but for now it’s a staple in our backyard because she liked using it so much.

Toddler Obstacle Course

Have I ever mentioned that I love activities you can set up quickly and easily with stuff you already have? Well, I do. And this is one of those activities for outside!


Any outdoor toys you already have!

It’s great to get outside in the summer and get lots of gross motor practice in. For toddlers that can be as simple as navigating grass or bumpy walking surfaces. But, when your kiddo has mastered walking through grass (even if it needs a good trim!) it’s time to introduce some new gross motor activities for outside.


I gathered up 4-5 obstacles to put out for Peanut to tackle. I used items that were easy to place, attractive to Peanut, and that would encourage big movements. I ended up using our slide, two pool noodles, a ball, a bubble mower and her kiddie-sized outdoor chair. She could work on several different gross motor movements with the items I selected. She could climb up her slide, step over the noodles, carry the ball, push the bubble mower, and sit down in her chair.


When I had all my obstacles set up, I walked through the course with Peanut showing her what to do and helping her through. Then, I brought her back to start and let her take to the course on her own. Of course she skipped the slide, kicked the pool noodles (a great gross motor skill as well), and tried to push the mower with the ball still in her hand. She had a blast though running through the course several times. Even though it wasn’t perfect, she was still getting to practice those skills and that was fine with me.


As I have said before, toddlers are constantly learning. Setting up thoughtful activities is a great way to make sure they’re getting exposed different experiences and learning opportunities. But, they’re not old enough yet to expect them to do structured, perfect activities!

DIY Noise Maker for Toddlers and Babies

Toddlers and babies alike love to make noise. A sound can stop them in their tracks to investigate where the noise came from. This DIY noise maker is great for nearly any age, but particularly those babies and toddlers.


2 plastic cups, preferably clear
duct tape, in a fun color!
beans or beads


If you’re creating this for a baby, skip the decorating steps and go straight to the adults only part of the project. If this noise maker is for a toddler, the first part is half the fun!


Present the cups and stickers to your kiddo. Peanut needed me to show her how to put the stickers on and also needed my help to get the sticker started peeling off the sheet. We worked on grabbing the sticker sheet with one hand and getting a sticker with the other and you could tell she felt like a big girl getting those stickers with only a little help from mom. Then, I had to remind her what she was supposed to do with the sticker nearly every time. But, she enjoyed sticking the stickers everywhere on her cup. We ended up with several inside the cup to flop around with her beans. When she seemed like she was not interested in decorating anymore came my part.


I added some dried lima beans to the cup, letting Peanut see what I was doing and play with a few of the beads. I stacked the cups lip to lip and wrapped the duct tape around the cups several times. This is the most important part, and why this is the part I recommend an adult takes over. If there isn’t enough tape or the tape isn’t secure, beans will be flying everywhere in no time.


With the beans securely taped inside the cup, I handed Peanut her creation and the shaking began. I asked her if she wanted down from her chair and she was so enthralled with shaking that she just stayed put. She shook like crazy with both hands, figured out how to tip it back and forth, tried it with one had. She had so much fun…and went right back to it this morning when she found it on her toy shelf.


I like this project for several reasons. 1) it works on fine motor skills (putting the stickers on) and gross motor skills (shaking), 2) it’s a project where Peanut got to create something and there isn’t any mess to clean up 3) it can grow with her. When she’s older I can let her select what she wants to put in the cups to discover how those objects sound compared to the beans. I can also increase the difficulty of the decorating to work on different fine motor skills as she grows. It’s a great, fast project!

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