Gross Motor

Large Muscles

Gross motor skills are the larger movements your child makes with her arms, legs, feet, or her entire body.


Mom and her daughter Morgan are getting ready to have lunch. Mom thinks it would be nice to play a game of Row, Row, Row Your Boat since they read the book earlier that day. Mom tells Morgan to sit so that they are facing each other, and they hold hands. They then begin to rock back and forth and sing the song “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” They start off slowly and then speed up, pretending that the boat has hit rocky seas.


Using games to develop gross motor skills is probably the best way to engage your child in physical activities. Games are great for fun bonding, too.

Gross motor activities are movements of the entire body such as the ability to roll over, walk, hop, climb, crawl, and jump. These activities increase blood flow, which feeds the brain.

Movement experiences should be introduced early in life and built upon year after year with classes and team sports.

Guidelines for Everyday Gross Motor Activities

Your child should have at least 30 minutes of structured (adult-lead) physical activity each day. The following activities can be fun for the entire family: taking a walk in the neighborhood or playing T-ball. Activities such as T-ball also help to develop ball skills such as catching, throwing, kicking, and hitting.

Your child should engage in 60 minutes or more of unstructured (free play) physical activity each day and should not be inactive for more than 60 minutes at a time, except when sleeping. If your child is involved in active play at an early age she will stay active and be physically fit in the future.

A great example of unstructured play would be taking your child to the neighborhood park and using the playground equipment. Encourage your child to go on the slide; because she needs to climb up stairs and position her body to sit on the slide so that she does not tip over, she develops balance and strength.

As your child develops, her gross motor skills will go from mastery of simple skills like jumping and crawling to more complex skills like riding a tricycle and standing on one foot.