Gross Motor Skills

Preschoolers are developing their large muscle movements through tasks like running, climbing, and throwing

Children jumping game

At A Glance

Preschoolers can increasingly perform large muscle movements, such as balancing, pedaling, running, swinging, and climbing. Children can sometimes make us a little nervous when they push the limits of their gross motor skills. Safety is critical, but children need to explore and test what they can do with their bodies. They need ample opportunity to climb, balance, roll, and jump. The best way to support this development is to offer lots of opportunities to move, play, explore, and engage in appropriate risk-taking.

What It Looks Like

A quick glance at ways you can support preschoolers' gross motor skills

Lead by Example

Model and use verbal cues to encourage children to imitate large muscle movements while dancing to music or following a leader.

Monitor and Support Engagement

Note how this educator watches carefully and provides support when needed to keep a child moving and engaged.

Play Games to Support Movement

Get children moving with activities that encourage various actions like walking, running, or stopping and going.


Let’s Dance

Written by Valerie Bolling and illustrated by Maine Diaz, this book travels around the world to show how different children move and groove.

Book Cover - Let's Dance
Jazz Baby Book Cover


Jazz Baby

Written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Laura Freeman, this book uses rhythmic wording to emphasize dancing and moving in time with music. 


Trauma-Sensitive Focus to Active Play

This article from the Sports Information Resource Centre explains the benefits of gross motor activities and active play experiences for children who have experienced trauma. 


Encouraging Physical Activity

This video from the Center for Early Childhood Education at Eastern Connecticut State University offers several ways to incorporate physical activity into daily preschool and home routines.


Moving to Learn

All young children benefit from opportunities to freely move around their learning environment. This article from the Connecticut Birth to Three System describes inclusive ways to modify materials and activities to meet every child’s needs.  

Activity Cards for Preschool Classrooms

Part of the STREAMin3 curriculum, these activity cards provide simple and fun ways to support children's gross motor skills
Dancy Party Icon - Regulate Move
Move to the Music

Dance Party

Create a dance by encouraging children to suggest a new way to move their bodies to music.

Hopscotch Icon - Regulate Move
Hop it Out


Challenge children to move their bodies however they choose across a hopscotch board.

Name Movements Icon - Regulate Move
What's Your Move?

Name Movements

Pair each child’s name with a different movement and encourage children to remember each one as you add the next.

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Mindful Movements

Yoga: Morning Energy

Energize children by leading them through each movement in this flow.


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