Summer is the ideal time to get kids moving outdoors. For little ones, summer outdoor fun also provides an easy way to work on helping your child develop motor skills.
As babies and toddlers develop, gross motor skills and fine motor skills are a continual work in progress.
Gross motor skills involve the large muscle groups and include lots of outdoor activities—running, jumping, kicking. Fine motor skills focus on smaller muscles and involve activities like writing, drawing, and blowing bubbles.
Kids need to fine tune all muscles and both gross and fine motor skills are imperative during school years.
But telling a little one that they need to work on motor skills isn’t the ideal way to get them motivated. Instead parents can tune up these skills by encouraging playtime fun that embraces both small and large muscle movements.
Get ready to move those kiddos out the door and explore all the great summer activities to help your child develop motor skills.
Swimming and Water Fun
First and foremost, never leave any child unattended near water. Safety first! But with parental or adult supervision water play can keep muscles active.
Learning swimming strokes, kicking legs, splashing and even blowing bubbles in the water keeps muscles moving. Running through sprinklers or at playing in splash pads also works the leg muscles.
Some kid areas at swimming pools and water parks even feature wheels that turn on water sprinklers and other fun interactive features. Let kids explore these areas, but keep close by.
Blowing bubbles is so much fun—even for adults! For little kids, blowing bubbles helps work the tiny muscles in the mouth. And grasping the wand helps with finger grips. Introduce different wands and accessories and let them have a blast seeing who can make the biggest bubble!
Kicking around a soccer ball or tossing balls into a low basket helps kids develop coordination. Use whatever balls you want to kick, dribble and toss. Even blow-up beach balls make awesome outdoor options for an easy game of intro volleyball or just to toss and kick.
Head to the playground and encourage kids to climb, slide and explore. Climbing ladders teaches motor coordination and works both smaller muscles in the hands and larger muscles in arms and legs.
Simple playground activities make a huge impact on gross and fine motor development. Swinging also helps improve coordination and helps strengthen little hands. Let kids run and explore the equipment!
For families who have gardens, be sure to involve little ones. Kids love helping parents, and gardens create ideal activities for fine-tuning motor skills. Let kids pull weeds, pluck produce from vines or dig holes for new seeds.
All these activities work their hand and arm muscles.
Let kids embrace their inner artists with sidewalk chalk! Buy lots of colors and let kids create masterpieces on the driveway or patio.
Just make sure you ask permission before allowing them to create art in public parks; many parks do not allow chalk drawing on public property.
If you have a sandbox, nearby beach or park with a sandy area, grab buckets and shovels and get building. Digging, molding and patting the sand all use fine motor movements.
And textures like sand (and even mud) are ideal for sensory play. While, yes, sand is messy…kids love to create castles and build fun forts. Take some small action figures or trucks to use for imaginary play.
The longer days of summer are the best time to get kids outside for playtime that encourages moving large and small muscle groups.
Just be sure to slather on the sunscreen (or bug spray) before heading outdoors! And don’t forget to pack water and snacks!