Gross Motor Skills

Infants and toddlers are busy moving their bodies to explore their world

infants standing and sitting

At A Glance

From tummy time with the youngest infants to running and jumping with toddlers, young children need as much time as possible to explore and test what they can do with their bodies. Developing physical skills allows children to explore their environment actively and cultivates healthy, active, and fit lifestyles. Gross motor skills include rolling, crawling, standing, jumping, balancing, and climbing. We can promote the development of gross motor skills by providing opportunities for lots of practice.

What It Looks Like

A quick glance at ways you can support infants' and toddlers' gross motor skills

Monitor and Support Efforts

Be ready as needed to support children as they push their limits and try new movements. This allows children to go a little further than they could have on their own.

Lead By Example

Gross motor skills are developed with practice! Notice how this educator encourages children to watch and imitate various movements.

Narrate Movement

Model and describe children’s (and your own) movement. Do this to acknowledge use of their skills, but also as a way to explain and demonstrate how to do things.


I Yoga You

Written and illustrated by Genevieve Santos, this story shows the ways children’s bodies move throughout the day, accompanied by simple and accessible yoga poses.
I Yoga You Book Page
Book Cover We All Play


We All Play

Written and illustrated by Julie Flett, this story features playful animals and Cree phrases as children move in ways that animals might.


Attachment and Active Play

This podcast from the Center of Inclusive Child Care highlights how a quality attachment helps a child feel confident and secure in exploring new challenges, such as gross motor experiences and active play.


Let’s Talk About Movement

This podcast from the Office of Head Start shares how educators and families can support infants’ and toddlers’ motor development through daily movement and active play.


Why Outdoor Play Is Essential

Playing outdoors is one important way young children can develop gross motor skills. This article by the National Association for the Education of Young Children shares the benefits of engaging children in outdoor play.

Activity Cards for Infant and Toddler Classrooms

Part of the STREAMin3 curriculum, these activity cards provide simple and fun ways to help children develop their gross motor skills
Body Part Song Icon - Regulate Move
Sing it

Body Part Songs

Sing songs about different body parts to help children learn more about how they move.

Bowling Activity Card - Regulate Move
Knock it Over


Invite children to try different ways to knock down “bowling pins.”

Follow the Leader Activity Card - Regulate Move

Follow the Leader

Encourage and guide children to follow each other in a line around the room.

Move it

Move to the Beat

Play music with strong beats and encourage children to move their bodies to the rhythm.


Get Our Resource Guide

Includes questions and activities to guide your use of the videos, book suggestions, and activity cards featured for each of the Core Skills