Looking for simple gross motor activities you can do indoors? This is the mega list!
I know how the winter goes – whether you’re experiencing it now, or you’re in the southern hemisphere and looking forward to it in a few months. You need things for your learners to get those wiggles out, or you’re going to go a little crazy!
Here’s a list to keep on hand! These are perfect for both the home and the early childhood classroom.
1 – Toss bean bags into baskets
Provide laundry baskets. Then get your learners in several rows, and have them take turns tossing bean bags into the target.
2 – Move on paper plates
Buy some colored paper plates. Then get creative! Place them in a row (red, green, red, green) and have students step on just the red ones. Or have them get down on all fours and “skate” with a plate under each hand. Put the plates in a row to get your students moving around the classroom. Put the plates far apart for biiiig steps. Or put them close together for tiny steps.
3 – Learn with a ball toss
If your learners are able to catch a simple toss, put them in a circle. Then think of a way to incorporate learning with a ball toss. For example, you can throw a ball to a student and name a word. Then s/he names a rhyming word and tosses the ball back to you. Toss it to another student with a new word for him/her to rhyme.
4 – Play “find and tag it”
This is a versatile game that can be used to review many different skills. Just tell your learners to find something and tag it. For example, “Find and tag something blue.” Or “Find and tag something that starts with /s/.”
5 – Move like an animal
You’ll need some open space, but this is a great way to get kids using new muscles. Here are some ideas:
- Move like a bird (run with arms outstretched)
- Move like a snake (wiggle on tummies on the floor)
- Move like a bear (walk on all fours)
- Move like a frog (get down on haunches and hop)
- Move like a kangaroo (take big leaps with arms in front of chest)
- Move like an elephant (with heavy stomping)
- Move like a penguin (waddle with ankles close together and arms pinned to sides)
Need more ideas? Check out 15 animal walks for sensory input, from Lemon Lime Adventures
6 – Have fun with painter’s tape
Painter’s tape is one of the best inventions ever. It goes on (and comes off) easily – whether you’ve got a smooth floor or a carpeted one (but be sure to test it first just to be sure). And there’s so much you can do with it! Put it on the floor like a ladder. Then have students see how many rungs they can jump. Can they jump farther with a running start?
See how many rungs they can stretch – or how far they can go on one foot. Need more ideas? Check out this post at Hands on As We Grow.
7 – Play indoor hopscotch
I really think painter’s tape is the way to go on this one. Create a simple hopscotch board with numbers. Then have students toss a bean bag on a space and jump to get there. Another idea is to use cardboard squares that you can pull out at any time.
Tip: Change the skill that learners review with hopscotch; instead of putting numbers on the squares, consider letters, shapes, or sight words.
8 – Use balloons
Blow up enough balloons for each of your learners (plus extras, because you know you’ll need them after the inevitable popping). Have them put a balloon between their knees and walk like a penguin. Or they can toss the balloon and catch it so that it never hits the floor.
Can they balance the balloon on a part of their body (like an outstretched arm) and walk a few steps – or across the room?
9 – Alphabet action cards
Print our free alphabet action cards – then get active while reviewing the alphabet one letter at a time.
10 – Copy me!
This is where you can get in your workout for the day. Simply do a series of exercises or silly actions, and have your students copy you. Jump like a kangaroo. Scratch like a monkey. Run in a place. (Whatever it takes to get that heart rate up!)
11 – Create a wiggle jar
Print action cards and place them in jar. When your students need a movement break, pull a few cards for everyone to do. Here are some ideas for a preschool wiggle jar:
- Jog in place while you sing the alphabet.
- Touch the sky and then your feet five times in a row.
- Pretend you’re playing the drums.
- Fly around the room like a bird.
For wiggle jar ideas, visit Homeschool Share.
12 – Tape balance beam
This is ultra simple, but surprisingly fun! Grab several rolls of colorful painter’s tape, and set it on the floor in different lines; make the lines zigzag, curvy, straight, or shaped like a circle, square, or other shape.Then challenge your learners to walk each colored line from beginning to end.
13 – Dance like this
If your learners like to dance, put on some music – but give them instructions to dance a particular way. They can dance slow, fast, in a circle, silly, etc.
14 – Roll and move
Grab a large soft die (like this one), and write a list of simple exercises on cards. Have one learner draw a card, and another roll the die. The die tells you how many times to do the exercise. Here are some ideas for the exercise cards:
- Touch your toes
- Do arm circles
- Run across the room
- Hop on one foot
- Jump forward
- Take big steps
- Take tiny steps
15 – Be an athlete
Have your learners pretend to do one of these sports. Think of it as heart-pumping charades!
- rope climbing
- tennis baseball
16 – Be the weather
Children can use their bodies to be different kinds of weather, such as:
17 – Learning scavenger hunt
Write things your students are learning on sticky notes – they may be letters, numbers, shapes, sight words, etc. Put the sticky notes in various places around the room (some hidden and some obvious), and see how many your learners can find and identify.
18 – Sing active songs
Sing one of these classic songs, and add some actions!
- I’m a Little Teapot
- If You’re Happy and You Know It
- The Hokey Pokey
- Ring around the Rosie
- Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes
- Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Turn Around
- Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush
19 – Do alphabet yoga
If you have nap mats or towels, pull them out and challenge your learners to do a yoga pose for various letters of the alphabet.
A – Airplane (hold still and move arms to the side)
B – Bicycle (lie on your back and pedal your feet)
C – Cat pose (get on all fours; then round your back while tucking in your chin; release)
For a list of yoga poses from A-Z (and how to do them!) visit Pink Oatmeal.
And for even more gross motor ideas, check out 3 Dinosaurs’ gross motor printable list.
We hope this list gets your learners moving and saves your sanity at the same time!
Thanks a lot for this. I got a lot of ideas 🙂
I have a question. The picture at the top of your post shows round multi-layered discs with arrows that are sitting on a mat. What are those discs and where can I purchase them?
I’m sorry, Jennifer! That’s a stock photo, so I don’t know where those came from.
like like what i see so far would like to see more thank you
Laura L Brockman
I was looking for an activity for working with my HeadStart children (3-5 year olds) and i LOVE the alphabet action cards, and so did they. Definitely recommend it!
I’m so glad you like them, Laura!
Thank you so much for sharing. We played “tag” the alphabet. I posted photos around the space with the letter behind it. The kids had a alphabet list to check off (like a scavenger hunt). When they found a photo they: said the letter name, the letter sound, and for extra credit they named another object beginning with that letter. Again, thank you for sharing your ideas!
You’re very welcome, Anne!
Awesome indoor gross motor activities!!! It is like you enhanced my thought process. Keep doing what you are doing. Thank you!!
You’re very welcome, Carolyn!
Such great ideas! I would love to know where the round mats with arrows came from!
That’s a stock photo, so I couldn’t tell you. 🙂
Thanks! We sure needed these great ideas to burn off our energy during this spring-delayed weather we’ve been having in Minnesota!
Yes – it’s been a loooong winter!!
These are great
Thank you for sharing, will definitely use this for my class of 30 preschoolers.
You’re welcome, Josephine!
I love your list and will be trying some of these out! We had a long winter last year and wish I would have thought of a few of these then!
Thank you so much for your kind words, Liz!
These are great movement ideas . Thanks!
You’re very welcome, Kathy!
I cannot get the ONLY18 discount to apply. I typed it in the coupon code. Should I have entered it elsewhere?
Unfortunately I forgot to create it until mid morning – sorry about that! It should work now.