Playing ball is a good way to encourage large motor skills.

Toys That Develop Large Motor Skills

by Sara Ipatenco

The majority of your child's gross motor skills are developed during childhood. Large motor skills, usually called gross motor skills, involve the use of all or most of your child's body at one time, and promote strong muscles, balance, coordination and an overall healthy body. Playing with toys is how children learn, and introducing certain toys will also encourage the normal development of your child's gross motor skills, too.

1. Sports Equipment

Sports equipment is one of the most effective groups of toys to promote large motor skill development. When your child is kicking a soccer ball, hitting a baseball or dunking a basketball through the hoop, he's using a wide range of muscle groups, which encourages normal growth and development. These activities also encourage proper hand-eye coordination, according to the Encyclopedia of Children's Health. A game of catch with a baseball and mitt, tossing a ball into an empty basket or hitting golf balls with a club are additional ways to promote large motor skills.

2. Bicycles and Riding Toys

Riding a bike, tricycle or toddler-sized riding toy requires your child to use his entire body to propel himself forward. That physical exertion encourages the development of his arm, leg, core and back muscles. Make your child's riding time even more beneficial by outlining a track on your driveway or sidewalk with chalk or by setting up a series of cones for him to weave through as he rides. Of course, your child should also wear a helmet to protect his head while he's building his gross motor skills.

3. Sidewalk Chalk

For something so small and inexpensive, sidewalk chalk is the perfect medium for encouraging your child to work on his large motor skills. Draw a line on your driveway or sidewalk and ask your child to walk along the line, hop over it or crawl alongside it. You might also have your child lie flat on the ground and trace around his body with the sidewalk chalk. Have him fill in the outline to make it look like him. Drawing life size pictures on the driveway also requires your child to use the muscles in his entire body to complete the images. Ask him to draw an ocean mural or a life-size rendition of his favorite animal to get the activity going.

4. Additional Toys

Set up an obstacle course in your backyard. Include activities that require your child to climb over, under and around objects. You might also ask him to go down the slide or climb the ladder on your play structure. Add a few spots where your child has to jump over something such as a small rock. The more movements your child engages in while completing the obstacle course, the more large motor skill benefits he's receiving. Challenge your child to a hula hoop or jump rope contest. Each of these toys are good for gross motor skill development, too.

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