Summer gross motor activities get your child up, outside and moving. When the weather is super-sunny and feeling warm, chances are that your kiddo is asking, “When can I go outside mommy?” Having a mini stockpile of outdoor activities can take some of the pressure off of having to come up with an on-the-spot option. And, this one combines gross motor fun with literacy learning and a crafty art activity.
Animal Action Cards
Hop, run, jump, twirl and more with this gross motor game. Oh, your tot is in constant motion. Every mama knows that. So you try to channel her energy into something that’s well…more productive than tornado-ing across the family room.
Of course, letting your child loose in the backyard to run laps, jump around or roll through the grass is always an option. This type of free play encourages her to get creative and move in very way possible. But, sometimes your kiddo needs a more structured activity. And that’s exactly what we’re doing here.
Together, you are your child can create action cards. Each card asks your child to move in a different way – such as run, jump or twirl. Not only does it call out an action, but it also acts as an alphabet activity. How? Underline the first letter of each word and have your child say it when she sees it.
Where do the animals come into play? Your crafty kid will create a second set of cards, featuring animal pictures and names. Pair these with the action cards, mixing and matching them, for some truly dramatic movements.
Learning and Development
- Gross motor skills- Balance, coordination, movement
- Fine motor skills- eye-hand coordination, dexterity, grip
- Letter recognition and identification
- Following directions
- Creative thinking/dramatic play
- Card stock paper
- Clear-drying school glue
- Craft felt
- Fold an 8×10-inch sized piece of card stock paper in half.
- Cut the paper down the center to create two cards. Repeat several more times. Make as many cards as your child wants. This is also a great way to teach your child a basic lesson in fractions and symmetry.
- Write action words on half of the cards. Ask your child to brainstorm ways to move, such as hop, jump or roll. You can write the words in pencil, with one on each card, and have your child trace the letters using markers. Underline the first letter of each action word.
- Choose animals for the other cards. Write each animal’s name on each card.
- Create animals using the felt. Help your child to cut the felt into shapes. Puzzle the pieces together to make the animals, adding details such as eyes or whiskers with markers. Glue the animals to their cards.
- Place the cards outside. Scatter them around the yard or make an obstacle course with them. As you place the cards, point to the first letter and ask your child to name it.
Playing the Animal Movement Game
After the action cards are on the ground it’s time to add the animals. Have your child place one animal card next to each action card, such as bunny hop or crab crawl.
Walk around the yard and name the pairs. Pick a starting point for your child to begin the game. As she moves from card couple to card couple she has to think about what animal motion to do. This takes some creativity, imagination and pretend play skills.
Animal Game Extensions
After your child has made it through the animal movement course, switch things up. Change the pairs so that your child can create totally new motions.
Your child can also use the cards for other activities and in other seasons. She can point out the letters and start spelling the words.
Are you looking for more summer-time activities? Check out these toddler and preschooler-friendly ideas.
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Erica is a mom, educator and parenting writer, with an MS in child development. When she’s not teaching, she’s busy creating kids’ activities for her blog Mini Monets and Mommies.