As preschool teachers, we know the amazingness that is outdoor play. The fresh air, the movement, the unstructured play. But, when winter (or the rain) puts a halt to outdoor play, it can leave both children and teachers in a cooped-up, cranky state!
So, today I wanted to share with you some Indoor Gross Motor ideas – many shared from fellow teachers in our Lovely Preschool Teachers Facebook Group. Just because the outdoors is off limits, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be providing time and space for gross motor movement.
Gross Motor movement is a vital outlet for pent-up energy. Kids being extra crazy? It’s time to throw in some gross motor movement – even indoors. Plus, the benefits (outside of not pulling out your own hair) to daily movement are BIG. From improving balance and coordination to lowering stress and boosting the mood – movement is where it’s at. It’s no wonder ‘brain breaks’ became a thing. The research is telling us that movement directly impacts brain stimulation. Not to mention how it can help children better self-regulate.
So, don’t skip the gross motor movement just because outdoor time is off the table – it’s important!
Indoor Gross Motor Ideas
Check out these awesome indoor gross motor ideas from the preschool teachers in the Lovely Preschool Teachers Facebook Group:
- Create an Obstacle Course using chairs, stepping stones, pillows and rug spots – Trisha
- An indoor Snowball Fight – Colleen
- Grab and run game – Children run down and collect an item (like a Christmas Bow or a fabric snowball) with a grabber and bring it back to the starting point. Then, another child has a turn. -Amy
- Use a tunnel and play music. Stop the music and whoever in the tunnel is out of the game, but becomes a cheerleader on the sidelines for the friends left in the game. – Ramona
- Flashlight Hide and Seek – Jackie
- Stepping Stones – Pat
- Freeze Dance – Laura
- Dancing with Scarves and Playing with Balloons (tip: write names on balloons, kids hit the balloons around, then they have to find their name) – Vicki
Also, here are some activities that we like to do when stuck indoors:
- Put out a tumbling mat for children to log-roll and do ‘tricks’ on. We make sure that children know how to make a line and wait until the person in front of them is off the mat.
- We also put out flat scooters for children to use. We only let them use the scooters when sitting on their bottom. Many times fingers get squished and children get dangerous with scooter when allowed on their knees and belly.
- We love to get out the big parachute and play simple parachute games.
- Our friends love to play Duck, Duck, Goose. We teach them how to play safely and help guide the game. It’s a big fav!
- We hang paper targets on the wall, place a line of tape on the floor and have children throw snowballs or beanbags at the targets.
- We use painter’s tape on the floor to make balance beams for children to walk on. We make straight lines, wavy lines and zigzag lines.
- Blow up balloons or beach balls for a ‘keep the ball off the ground’ party!
- Large open space for free play. While structured play is often necessary for indoor spaces, we try to have some un-structured time allowing children to run, play their own games in a large open space (that we are lucky to have).
Gross Motor Toys that are perfect for Gross Motor Indoor Fun:
- Go Wheelie: It’s a steering wheel on a stick. Perfect for hand-eye coordination and works great with obstacle courses.
- Foam Pogo Jumper: Our pre-kers love these pogo-like jumpers. It’s a challenge, but that is what makes them fun!
- Step Logs: I love these because they stack, but act as a stepping stone balance beam – without having to store it!
- Hopper Balls: Let them hop their extra energy out.
- Can Steppers: Working on balancing and coordination, this old-school toy is a classic favorite.
- Flat Scooters: A stable of elementary gyms everywhere, when used safely, they are perfect for preschoolers.
- Tunnels: Kids love a tunnel! Just don’t forget to make sure students understand your expectation for using the tunnel safely.
- Joey Jump Bean Bag Game: Helping children learn about the power of a lever, by stepping on the Joey Jump and sending a beanbag flying through the air. Play with a friend and have them try to catch the beanbag.
Whatever it is you choose to do with your cooped up preschoolers, just be sure you’re helping them get those gross motor muscles moving!