Are you lacking inspiration when it comes to indoor gross motor activities for toddlers? Or ways to burn off that excess energy when you are stuck indoors?
Outdoor gross motor activities come easily to us: running, going for a walk, riding a bike, or kicking a ball. But it can be harder to come up with ideas for indoor play and movement activities for toddlers.
With another rainy day looming, the thought of keeping your toddler active and entertained all day can be daunting! There are always times when we need to be inside, even now lockdowns are (hopefully) a thing of the past.
So with little ones aged 1,2 and 3 years old, it’s always handy to have a few indoor gross motor activities for toddlers up your sleeve.
These large motor activities are designed to keep your kids active, help develop their gross motor skills and of course, most importantly, are good fun.
What are gross motor skills?
Gross motor skills essentially are skills that require entire body movement and involve using the large muscles in the body. (Gross motor skills activities are also called large motor activities.)
The early key developmental milestones that we see, such as your baby lifting their head, sitting unaided, and pulling themself up are all early examples of your child’s gross motor development.
Gross motor control also has an effect on the ability to accomplish fine motor skills, which is anything using the small muscles in the body. For example, writing, picking up and putting down objects, and even cleaning teeth.
Some examples of gross motor skills
Gross motor skills are things like crawling, walking, running, jumping, hopping. Even sitting and standing still!
‘Tummy time‘, vital for developing muscles for sitting and crawling, is one of the earliest examples of ways to develop gross motor skills.
Hand-eye coordination is another gross motor skill developed through ball activities. These gross motor skill activities include throwing, catching, kicking as well as riding a scooter or a bike.
Why are gross motor skills important for toddlers and preschoolers?
Developing key building blocks such as muscle strength, balance and coordination are absolutely necessary to enhance the body’s planning and sequencing. This essentially means the planning and ordering of new muscle actions, from generating an idea, figuring out how to do it, and then execution (source).
Planning and sequencing is therefore hugely important in your child’s development. It’s vital to enable them to perform many everyday functions such as getting themselves dressed, eating, climbing in and out of a chair, and using the potty or toilet.
Of course, young children will be practising and perfecting many gross motor skills in these everyday activities. But there are many fun ways to enhance and develop more complex movements. This list of games and indoor gross motor activities for toddlers will provide you with plenty of ideas!
50+ indoor gross motor activities for toddlers and preschoolers
Here you will find over 50 fun indoor gross motor activities for toddlers and preschoolers at home. They’re split into large motor activities for 1, 2, and 3-year-olds to help you find age-appropriate activities.
However, I’m sure you’ll find that many will appeal to all age groups. They may just need to be adapted accordingly. I have tried a lot of these gross motor activities with my 1-year-old toddler and 3-year-old preschooler.
Although the youngest hasn’t yet mastered many of them, he gave them a good go and enjoyed them just as much!
The idea of these indoor gross motor activities for toddlers is that they are quick to set up, and don’t require supplies that you aren’t likely to have around the house. Additionally, with all these movement activities for toddlers, mess should be minimal!
(Check these minimal mess toddler activities next – more the sitting quietly type but all very engaging!)
With most toddlers and preschoolers, you’re unlikely to get more than 20 minutes of focus at a time so be realistic. To keep them engaged try a variety of indoor gross motor games and activities, and let your child lead the way. If they come up with a variation, and it is safe and engaging, then go with it.
Indoor Gross Motor Activities for 1-YEAR OLD Toddlers
Starting off with some of the easiest gross motor activities for the littlest toddlers, aged 1-2 years old.
For more simple, minimal prep activities for this age group, check out 50 Best activities for 18 month old toddlers at home.
#1 Jumping over lines
There’s no end to the number of gross motor activities for toddlers you can create with a roll of masking/painter’s tape. This one is really simple but as they get older you can add to it and adapt it for a greater challenge.
Simply tape some lines to the floor, a bit like a ladder, and encourage your child to jump over them from one to the next. My one-year-old toddler has not quite got to grips yet with jumping but he gives it a good go.
For my 3-year old, I added some shapes to the end so he had to jump over the lines and then into whichever shape box I said. Such a fun and simple movement activity for toddlers and preschoolers alike.
Children love the parachute when it comes out at toddler groups and there is no reason you can’t recreate it at home. A bed sheet or blanket makes the perfect alternative.
Put some of your child’s stuffed animals on top, take one side and give the other side to your toddler, and see how high you can make them jump. This takes a certain amount of coordination for a little person! It’s a challenging large motor activity for toddlers.
If you have a few people around to keep hold of the parachute, the children can take turns to go under it too. This quickly becomes a game if you have a few little ones to entertain.
It’s an entertaining gross motor activity for young toddlers who seem to love ducking and diving and watching the parachute floating up and down above them. Fun for peekaboo too.
#3 Bubble Catching
What 1 year old toddler doesn’t love bubbles? If you have one, those automatic bubble machines are brilliant for this. Otherwise, the old-fashioned way is fine and will have your child jumping around the room in delight.
Encouraging them to try and catch the bubbles and pop them will get their whole body moving. This movement activity for toddlers is a great way to burn energy while developing their balancem, coordination and body awarenss.
#4 Making a road
For little ones that love cars, trucks and anything with wheels, this transport activity is sure to engage. Grab your masking/painter’s tape again and make a road system on the floor for your toddler’s toy cars.
Make it big and think outside the box. Perhaps your road could scale furniture or other obstacles?
The larger the road, the more your child is having to crawl around and engage their core body muscles.
Getting your child involved in building the road will also help develop their fine motor skills. Your toddler will also love peeling the tape off when it’s time to tidy up and encourage this too; it’s a good pre-writing exercise as it’ll help develop their pincer grip.
#5 Green, Orange, Red Light
This is such a simple gross motor activity that always goes down well with toddlers. Get your child driving around in a pretend car. When you say green light, they must move around really quickly, orange light, they go slowly and red light they have to stop and standstill.
Getting involved yourself will help encourage them and they will soon get the hang of it.
Not only is this a fun movement activities for toddlers, but it tests their ability to listen! That in itself can be a challenge…
#6 Keeping a balloon in the air
I always ensure I have a packet of balloons stashed away at home. They’re a fail-safe way to keep my 1 year old toddler and 3 year old preschooler entertained and I can’t see this changing any time soon.
Have you seen how kids gravitate towards them at birthday parties?! They can’t get enough of them, so why only save them for special occasions?
For younger toddlers, an easy game to play with them is keeping the balloon in the air. It’s as simple as it sounds.
Encourage them to hit the balloon up into the air, and see how many times they can do it without it touching the ground. The likelihood is they’ll be shrieking with laughter as they chase it around the room.
A great indoor gross motor activity for toddlers, helping to build up strength in the arm muscles and work on hand-eye coordination.
#7 Catch with a balloon
Playing a game of catch is a fun way to develop hand-eye coordination. Stand about a meter away from your toddler and throw the balloon for them to catch. As they get better at it, step further away to keep them challenged.
#8 Balloon Blow
Here’s another good balloon activity which will test gross motor skills.
Place a balloon on the floor with your toddler crouching down behind. See if they can blow the balloon across the room, or along a set course. There will be plenty of crawling and sideways movements with this one, working their upper body and core strength.
Of course, for a young 1 year old toddler, they may just be entertained simply by chasing and bopping a balloon or two it around. So if they’re not ready for keepy uppies, catch or blow one, just follow their lead.
Playing with a balloon will always be a favorite large motor activity for toddlers and preschoolers a like and it seems to start young!
#9 Songs with actions
There are so many classic children’s songs that kids love to hear and are great for getting them movin and working those large motor muscles while having fun.
‘Heads, shoulders, knees, and toes’ is an obvious one, and ‘Sleeping Bunnies’ is a firm favorite in our house. And there are plenty of others such as ‘Ring a Ring a Roses’, ‘The Hokey Cokey’ and ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It’.
#10 Have a Dance Party
A classic way to get a child moving and burning off that excess energy is to put on some tunes and have a good old dance. This particular gross motor activity for toddlers provides so much entertainment for spectators too. I love watching my 1 year old trying to dance!
#11 Row, Row, Row your boat
‘Row Row’ as my 1-year old likes to call it, is a fun way to engage those core muscles. It’s a simple movement activity for toddlers that practices coordination and rhythm too.
Sit your toddler opposite you with your legs out in front of you and hold both of their hands. Row back and forth as you sing ‘Row, row, row your boat’ keeping it going with all the different verses, you could even make up your own!
#12 Hide and Seek the toy
Collect up some of your child’s favorite toys or stuffed animals and hide them around the room for them to find. For younger toddlers, make them quite obvious and easy to spot.
As they get older you can make it more difficult and give them clues by saying, warmer, colder etc.
Or give them simple descriptive clues to challenge their thinking and understanding. E.g. it’s on top of something blue high up above your head. This is quite an eye opener into your little one’s understanding and an easy way to up the ante on this simple gross motor game and activity for toddlers.
#13 Beanbag balance
A bean bag is a really useful item to have around. Kids love playing with them and they are soft so great for indoor play. Just like the balloons and the painters tape, there are a multitude of fun gross motor activities for toddlers that you can conjure up with bean bags.
They’re also inexpensive to buy or can easily be made with some cotton fabric and rice. Alternatively, any small soft item can be used as a substitute.
In this simple movement activity, challenge your toddler to balance a bean bag on their head. Once they’ve mastered it standing still, get them to try and move around with it on their head and try other body parts too.
You may not have a huge amount of success but they’ll enjoy it and bending down to pick it up and put it back on is good exercise too!
#14 Playing with a cardboard box
Large cardboard boxes are great to save and can provide endless entertainment opportunities for toddlers. Encourage them to climb in and out of it or make it into a house with windows and doors. You can also turn it into a tunnel for them to crawl through.
Decorating with sharpies extends this indoor gross motor activity for toddlers into a fine motor one too. If it’s a house, they can draw on windows or flowers growing up the side. They’ll probably just scribble – whatever keeps them entertained.
If you’ve got a 1-2 year old toddler to entertain, you may also find the following posts useful:
- 75 Easy Sensory Activities For 1-Year-Olds At Home For Busy Toddlers
- 55 Best Fun Outdoor Toys for 1 Year Old Toddlers in 2023
- 25 Cute & Simple Easter Activities & Crafts For Babies 6+ Months
Indoor Gross Motor Activities for 2-YEAR OLD Toddlers
These gross motor activities and games are slightly trickier than the ones for 1-year-olds, but not much. Older 1-year-olds may be able to give many of these a go. Likewise, older toddlers and preschoolers will be happily entertained.
#15 Walking on a Balance Beam
Using that handy roll of masking/painter’s tape, create a tape balance beam on the floor for your child to walk along. This is great for core strength and practicing balance and an easiliy adapted gross motor skills activity for toddlers 2-3 year olds.
Once they have mastered walking along it at a regular pace, up the ante. Get them to pause whilst balancing and bend down and pick something up. Challenge them to pat their head or hop on one leg along it.
Or for the competent 3 year old preschooler, can they balance a bean bag on their head while walking the beam?!
#16 Bean Bag Catch
Playing a game of catch with a bean bag is a level up from playing with a balloon. Children can play together, with you or on their own by tossing it in the air and catching it.
As they get better at catching, make it this large motor activity for toddlers more challenging by stepping further away from each other.
#17 Bean Bag Toss
This is a great target practice activity to work on aim and hand-eye coordination. Set out a laundry basket or a hula hoop for your child to toss the bean bag into. Start close to the target and every time they get one in, move them further away.
You could vary the challenge by standing the laundry basket or hoop on its side to throw through a vertical target. To extend this gross motor activity for 2 year old toddlers further, add multiple targets and assign points to each one.
#18 The Balloon Waddle
Place a balloon between your child’s knees and get them to waddle across the room without dropping it. If you have more than one child, you can turn it into a race, and add obstacles to make it more challenging.
Or get them working together, by placing a balloon between the children’s hips and challenging them to cross the room together without dropping it. This fun gross motor activity for 2 year olds will be a good test of communication and team work as much as the physical skills themselves.
TOP TIP: For younger or smaller toddlers keep the balloon on the small side with less air. It makes it much easier to fit between their knees.
#19 Color Scavenger Hunt
Hide items of different colors around the room, for example, 5 red objects, 5 yellow, 5 blue, etc. Then place a piece of paper of each color on the table. The aim is to find all the objects and place them on the correct color paper.
As well as getting kids moving, this indoor gross motor game is great for color recognition and gets them counting too. This works well with any kind of colored building blocks if you have them.
#20 Shape Tag Challenge
Challenge your toddler to find items around the house of different shapes. For example, ask them to find something square and let them run off and tag it.
#21 Relay Races
A good old relay race is a fun activity whatever the age and makes a great gross motor activity for toddlers at home. It’d also make a great birthday party game for little ones..
Mark out your race track with a container at one end and something to collect, soft toys work well, at the other end. Your toddler starts at the container end, runs to the soft toys, collects one, and brings it back to the container, repeating until they are all gone.
If you have more than one child they can race each other, or with one child, time them and then challenge them to beat their time.
#22 Obstacle Course
The obstacle course is the classic tried and tested, never gets old indoor gross motor activity for toddlers and preschoolers. Suitable for all ages, it can be adapted for all toddlers and children, and you can keep it fun and exciting by making it different every time.
Ideally, a large space is best. But, of course, we can only use what we’ve got, so adapt it to your space.
The key is to include a variety of movements, such as crawling, hopping, and balancing. Get the kids involved in making the course, is half the fun.
Here are a few ideas of things to include:
- A balance beam using tape
- Sofa cushions or pillows to hop between
- Make a tunnel using two chairs and a blanket, or a big empty cardboard box
- Any item like a bottle to run around
- Hula hoops to jump into or through
- Hurdles using tape or boxes
- Bean bags or stuffed animals for balancing
#23 Move like an animal
Challenge your child to move like different animals. Some good ones to get you started are kangaroo, snake, frog, crab and bird. Then of course, there’s the dinosaur stomp, a fun movement dinosaur activity.
This gets young ones thinking and moving their entire body and is great fun. To give them a laugh, ask them to challenge you too.
#24 Musical Statues
Musical statues is a classic party game but should definitely not be limited to birthday celebrations! It’s such a fun large motor activity for toddlers, preschoolers and older kids alike. My 7 year old has not tired of it yet!
Put on some music and have a good dance. Turn off the music at random intervals and your child must stand as still as possible whilst the music is off. To turn it into a game, the child who stops moving last now sits out, but with little ones let them all carry on.
So, they can then all start dancing again when the music comes back on.
#25 Indoor Snowball Fight
Encourage your child to use their imagination with this one! Balled-up socks or scrunched-up bits of newspaper make perfect snowballs. Pull out furniture so that they have some things to hide behind or make a fort to take cover in.
This gross motor activity is not only fun for toddlers and preschoolers but is a great energy buster. They’ll burn loads of energy running around and ducking in and out.
For some more realistic wintry themed activities, try these FAKE SNOW sensory bins & activities.
#26 Ball Wall
This fun movement activity for toddlers takes a little bit of setting up but it is one hundred percent worth the effort.
Stick some plastic balls, or ping pong balls, to the wall using painters/masking tape, about your child’s head height and put a laundry basket, or similar container on the other side of the room. The game is to run to the ball wall, grab a ball, and put it in the basket, continuing until they are all in the basket.
If playing with more than one child, give them their own ball wall and make it into a race. Or with one child, time them and then challenge them to beat their time.
#27 Mirror Mirror
Stand your child opposite you and have them mirror your movements, then swap and you copy them. The bigger the movements the better. It’s such a fun and easy gross motor activity for 2 year olds. Expect lots of giggles!
#28 Hop, Skip, Jump
Stick some paper plates or pieces of scrap paper on the floor and get your child hopping, skipping, and jumping from one to the next. You could make it more challenging by moving them further apart or by introducing different colored plates and making each color a different action.
Here are some more crafts & activities for this age group:
- 10+ Fun & simple dry messy play ideas for 1 and 2-year-olds
- 25 Fun & easy fall arts, crafts & sensory activities for infants & toddlers
- 21 Easy Finger Painting Ideas For Babies & Toddlers 1-2 Years Old
- 39 Fun & easy arts projects & crafts for 1 & 2 year olds
Indoor Gross Motor Activities for 3-YEAR OLD Preschoolers
Finally, here are some indoor gross motor activities for older toddlers and preschoolers, ideal for 3 year olds. However, many will keep older kids entertained too. There are several indoor gross motor activities for 3-5 year olds in here too.
#31 Long Jump Challenge
This is an extension of the jumping over the lines gross motor activity for 1-year-olds, using masking/painter’s tape lines on the floor. Simply tape some lines on the floor and starting on the first line, see how many lines your toddler can jump over.
They’ll want to do it over and over to try and beat their last jump.
Kids love hopscotch. It is a great outdoor gross motor activity for toddlers, preschoolers and older kids. So why not bring it indoors?
Using your very handy masking/painter’s tape, make a simple hopscotch board on the floor and leave your child to enjoy. Younger toddlers may struggle with the concept of hopscotch but encouraging them to jump from square to square is perfect for gross motor development.
Counting along with them, will help with number recognition.
#31 Balancing a balloon on body parts
This indoor gross motor activity my 3-year-old finds hilarious. Get your child to balance a balloon on different body parts and see how long they can keep it there before it falls to the ground. The back of the hand, head, crook of the elbow, and legs are all good ones to try.
Great for their balance and you’ll be amazed how much movement is required.
#32 ‘Egg’ and Spoon Race
Using a bean bag or some balled-up socks as your egg, place it on a spoon and challenge your toddler to race along a set course without dropping it. If they drop it, send them back to the start to try again.
You can experiment here with different spoon and egg sizes to make it easier or more difficult. A fun, simple indoor gross motor activity for toddlers and preschoolers alike.
#33 Balloon Taps
Hang a balloon from a doorway just out of reach, a few inches higher than arm reach is perfect. Challenge your toddler to tap it with their hands and see how many times they can do it in a row without missing it.
Once the arms get tired, see how they get on with their head. This gross motor activity for 3 year olds is a quick and easy way to exhaust young children!
#34 Paper Plate Skating
Can’t get to the ice rink? No problem, grab a couple of paper plates and let your kids slide around like they’re on ice. Best done in bare feet, making it less likely that they’ll slide off the plates. You could even tape the plates to their feet.
This fun movement activity for toddlers works well on hard floors and on carpet and always guarantees a good time.
#35 Paper Plate Ring Toss
We love this simple indoor gross motor activity for preschoolers. It requires a small amount of prep but it is worth it and is great for testing your child’s hand-eye coordination as well as promoting physical development.
Cut the center of your paper plates to make rings. Next line up some paper cups, plastic bottles, or similar and get tossing. My 3-year-old still finds this quite difficult, and it is more of a ring drop than a ring toss right now. Once they get the hang of it, make it harder by standing further away.
#36 Hide and Seek
Hide a Seek is a regular go-to in our house on a rainy day, or when there’s a bit of excess energy needing to be burnt. It’s definitely an indoor gross motor activity for preschoolers that’ll appeal to older children too.
Even younger ones will enjoy this game although they may need a bit of help. They’ll soon get the hang of it and love hiding behind curtains or under beds.
Don’t expect them to keep quiet though. A bit of imaginative play may be required by Mom or Dad!
#37 Den Building
Den building is a fantastic gross motor activity for preschoolers that can be done indoors just as well as outdoors. It’s a perfect screen-free indoor activity for a rainy day.
Think sofa cushions, chairs, blankets, and sheets. Let your child do as much of the building as they can and help where needed. Once the den is built encourage your child to use their imagination. Perhaps the den could be a fort or a pirate ship?
Alternatively make it cozy inside using pillows and cushions, some books, and a torch. You might even be lucky enough to get a bit of quiet time!
There are two ways of doing this. You can either set up your skittles as a tower or as a triangle on the floor.
Use paper cups, plastic bottles, yogurt pots, toilet rolls, whatever you can find around the house. Mark out a line to stand behind, this may need to be closer for younger children.
The aim of this simple movement activity for toddlers is to knock as many skittles over as possible by rolling a ball at the skittles along the floor. This is a good one to get the whole family involved in and can be great fun.
#39 Straw Javelin Throw
This simple indoor gross motor activity is great fun and gets those arms moving. Mark out some lines on the floor using masking/painter’s tape as an easy guide to measure how far the javelin has gone. Encourage your preschooler to keep going and try to beat their last distance.
#40 Bean Bag Race
With a bean bag or similar item on your child’s head, challenge them to race across the room as quickly as possible, without dropping it. If they do drop it, back to the beginning they go.
With more than one child, you could turn this challenging gross motor activity for 3 year olds into a race. Alternatively, time them and see if they can get quicker.
#41 Ball Toss
Set up a group of plastic containers or cardboard boxes – a bigger target will simplify this gross motor activity for young toddlers. Now your child must try to throw a soft ball into the container or box. They’ll soon get tired running back and forth retrieving balls.
#42 Tape Spider Web
Using your masking/painter’s tape again, or string would also work, make a spider’s web, with some bits to crawl under and some to climb over. This works well in a hallway or doorway and the aim is to get through without touching the web. You could also stick pompoms onto the web to collect along the way.
It’s a fun gross motor skills activity that is surprisingly tiring for little ones.
#43 Scavenger Hunt
Make a fun list of things your child needs to find from around the house. Things like a ‘blue sock’, a ‘bath toy’ or ‘your favorite car’ work well. Make them bring each one back to you before they set off for the next item.
You can easily adapt this to incorporate an element of learning, making it a more challenging gross motor activity for preschoolers and older kids too. There are some ideas coming up in a later section.
#44 Visual Scavenger Hunt
Take some photos of different places around your house and place something to collect at each spot. A pompom or small toy works well. Show your child one photo at a time, ask them where it is, and tell them to run and find it and bring back whatever you have left there.
This can be adapted depending on age simply by making the photos more cryptic for older preschoolers. For young toddlers children, keep it all on one floor of the house. That’s learned from experience!
This does take a bit of prep but is well worth it – it’s such an engaging and fun indoor gross motor activity for preschoolers, you should have time to sit down and have a cup of tea while they’re racing around the house. Fingers crossed!
#45 The floor is lava
Great fun and uses the imagination too. The premise is that the floor is made of lava so cannot be touched. They must get around the room using furniture, cushions on the floor, bits of paper, paper plates, or anything else they can get their hands on.
Not only is this highly engaging, this activity and game works on a multitude of gross motor skills (coordination, balance, body awareness…) and they must problem solve too.
#46 Simon Says with actions
This is another classic gross motor skills activity and game that your toddler is sure to love. Playing ‘Simon Says’ using actions not only encourages large muscle movement but, in the role of Simon, will make your preschooler think and be creative.
Simon says, ‘do a star jump’, Simon says ‘do 3 hops’, Simon says ‘turn around in a circle’, and so on.
#47 Do a workout together
Craving some exercise but stuck inside with your toddler or preschooler? Why not kill two birds with one stone and create a fun workout that you and your child can do together.
Get them doing star jumps, burpees, running on the spot etc. It’ll have them exhausted in no time and is great for strengthening their muscles. Keeping it fun will keep them engaged for longer so add exercises such as bear crawls and crab or bridge crawls, which if nothing else will get them laughing!
There are some great kids workouts on youtube. Joe Wicks’s daily workout was our regular lockdown workout!
#48 Paper Airplanes
Making a paper airplane is a fun way to develop a child’s fine motor skills. And playing with it is a fun gross motor skills activity for older toddlers and preschoolers. Once the plane is made, the physical element comes in as they see how far they can throw it.
Then of course, they’ve got to collect it for another go. Note how far their plane has gone so that they can try and beat it next time.
#49 Make your body into letter shapes
This one is hilarious, gets their whole body moving and has them wriggling around on the floor trying to get into shape. Challenge your child to work their way through the alphabet making the shape of every letter with their body. This is a great way to add a bit of fun to learning too.
Similar to the workout idea, getting your child involved in some yoga practice is an easy way to get them trying different movements, helping to develop their large motor muscles and coordination.
Try easy poses that your preschooler will be able to have a good go at, such as chair pose, downward-facing dog, and forward fold.
#51 Cleaning up the room
Good exercise and a winner for Mom and Dad too! Simply tidying the room, picking toys up off the floor, and putting them away or wiping the table with a cloth are great for gross motor development.
Mine also love sweeping the floor and doing the vacuuming, it’s not particularly effective but it keeps them entertained!
Love doing seasonal crafts with your toddler? Check out these popular posts:
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MORE gross motor activities for toddlers & preschoolers
#52 Hide & Seek the toy in the dark
This is a great one to do in the winter months when it’s dark and everyone is getting impatient waiting for dinner to finish cooking. Hide your toddler’s toys in a room or two and then switch the lights off in those rooms.
They must go and find their teddies with a torch; those rumbly tummies will be forgotten in no time and what little kids don’t love using a torch?! This fun gross motor game and activity for toddlers has become quite a regular one in our house.
An alternative to this which also looks fun, is to use glow sticks. Either using the glow sticks as the light source, or hiding glow sticks to find. Hiding things high and low is great for encouraging different types of large muscle movement.
#53 Freeze tag
A great gross motor activity for the whole family which can be played anywhere with a bit of space. For indoors it works well to use multiple rooms.
In an alternative take on regular tag, one or two players are it and their aim is to freeze the other players by touching them, making them stand still. These players can be unfrozen by other players touching them and saying ‘unfreeze’.
Perhaps give a time limit and see how many players are frozen at the end of the time.
LEARNING CONCEPT indoor gross motor activities for preschoolers 3-5
These indoor gross motor activities for preschoolers have a specific learning element to them. In addition to getting kids moving, they incorportate things such as early reading, math, and communication skills.
#54 Swat the letter
This large motor activity for toddlers and preschoolers is a simple one that my kids love – they like to help with the prep too!
Grab some post-its and write a letter on each one. Stick them to a wall, or give them to the kids to stick and arm them with a fly swatter or similar. They could also just use their hands.
Call a letter and the aim is to find the letter and swat it as quickly as possible.
#55 Beginning sounds scavenger hunt
This is a great movement activity for practicing your preschooler’s letters and sounds and having fun at the same time. Challenge them to find something in the room beginning with the letter ‘b’ for example.
It might be a good idea whilst they are still new to it to plant some obvious items nearby, such as a ball or a box. As they get more confident, challenge them further by sending them off around the house to find everyday items.
#56 Who am I
Perfect for encouraging imaginative play and a fun way to develop understanding about different animals. Take it in turns to choose and move like an animal, for the other person to guess.
Add a further challenge by trying categories such as land animals, sea creatures, animals that jump, etc. This indoor gross motor activities for preschoolers will really get the cogs turning and can be hilarious too!
#57 Act out a story
Another gross motor skills activity for 3-5 year olds that’ll encouraging imaginative play, ask your child to act out their favorite story. The challenge could be for them to act and you to guess or choose a story that you can act out together.
#58 Listening Game
This indoor gross motor activity for preschoolers will encourage focus and help develop listening and memory skills.
Give them a list of movements they need to do, such as jump twice, run around the sofa, walk backward to the door, and do a star jump.
The key is listening first to all the instructions and then carrying out all the actions in the correct order. Start with fewer actions for younger children and build it up.
#59 Weather-themed movement activity
This activity takes a little bit of prep but it is a lovely one combining gross motor movement and learning about the weather.
You’ll need a few different weather cards, representing different types of weather – sunny, rainy, snowy, windy, cloudy, etc. You could turn creating these cards into an activity in itself, working on those fine motor skills, or print some off from online.
Next, you’ll need to make 2 cubes, one with a different weather type on each side, and one with an action such as run, skip, hop, etc. You could also use regular dice and write down what each number represents. This would add a counting element to the activity too.
With the weather cards or posters spread around the room, get the children to roll the cubes or dice. They then have to move to the corresponding weather card doing whichever action they have rolled.
#60 Jump on the number
Here’s a fun movement activity for toddlers and preschoolers learning their numbers. It’s similar to swat the letter above.
If you’ve got those numbered foam floor tiles then great, if not you can improvise – cardboard with the numbers written on works well. Or numbers made out of masking or painter’s tape on the floor.
Call a number and your toddler has to jump onto the correct one.
And here are some fun crafts to try:
- 31 Cute Cat Crafts for Toddlers
- 100 Fun & Easy Toilet Paper Roll Crafts for Toddlers
- DIY twist-top boards: fine motor & fun learning for little ones
LARGE GROUP gross motor activities for toddlers and preschoolers
Here are some large group activities for toddlers and preschoolers that’ll keep a gang of little ones moving and buring energy. These will work well for kids parties, playdates with multiple kids or in a preschool setting.
#61 Four Corners
Four Corners is a classic preschool gross motor activity and game that can easily be recreated at home. The more people the better which is why it’s great for preschool. But if you’ve got a houseful for a party or playdate then give it a go. And all you need is a room with 4 corners!
One person stands in the middle of the room with their eyes closed and counts to ten, whilst the other players move to a corner of their choice as quietly as possible. The person in the middle then has to guess where the most players are, based on the sounds that he or she heard.
Anyone in the corner that is guessed is out and another round begins. Continue until there is only one person left, and the winner then takes their turn in the middle.
#62 Duck Duck Goose
Another classic preschool game, and a firm favorite with my 4-year-old. You probably need a minimum of around 6 children to make this work.
Sit the children in a circle with one child chosen to be ‘It’. The child who is ‘it’ walks around the circle tapping each child in turn on the head or shoulder, and naming them ‘duck’, until he or she decides to call someone ‘goose’.
The person named goose must jump up and tag ‘It’ before they get around the circle and back to the space. If the goose is not able to catch them, they take over as ‘It’, if they do catch them then It has another go.
#63 What’s the time Mr Wolf?
This gross motor activity and game for toddlers and preschoolers is a golden oldie and was one of my favorites way back when. It requires a minimum of just two people and can be played with a big group too.
One person is chosen as Mr Wolf and they stand a good distance away from the rest of the group with their back to them. The other children, standing side by side in a line, call out ‘What’s the time Mr Wolf?” To which the wolf can respond any time between 1 and 12.
The time called is the number of steps that the players must take toward the wolf. When the wolf wants to, usually after this has been done a few times and the other players are closer, the wolf shouts ‘Dinnertime!’.
This is the children’s cue to turn and run whilst Mr Wolf chases them. Whoever is caught takes the next turn as Mr Wolf.
I think we can probably all remember the limbo from when we were kids! All you need is a stick to limbo under, a broom or mop handle works well for this, and perhaps some tunes to limbo to!
Two people are needed to hold each end of the stick whilst the others try to limbo under. Start fairly high to give everyone a chance, bringing the stick lower and lower as each height is cleared.
The winner is the person who can go the lowest.
Swap the stick for a running hose outside and limbo under the water for a fun outdoor activity. This is such a fun movement activity for toddlers for the summer months that may rapidly turn into a water fight. Good clean fun though.
For fun outdoor games and activities, all of the simple, no prep type, check out these Easy Outdoor Activities & Play Ideas For Preschoolers
# 65 Balloon races
Balloons are an easy way to add a different element to a relay race, and are excellent for building those gross motor skills. Divide the children into two teams and give each team a balloon. Each member of the team must complete the race with the balloon for the team to finish.
The fun and challenge comes with the way they have to hold the balloon. It could be that they have to carry the balloon under their chin and pass it to the next child without using their hands. Or between their legs and again passing it to their team mate without their hands.
Or you could get the children working in pairs and they have to hold the balloon in between them, but without hands, as they race side by side.
This is such a good gross motor skills activity for kids of all ages as they really need to think on their feet and work as a team to complete the race.
Which indoor gross motor activity will you try with your toddler first?
We love active play and knowing how important it is for our children’s development makes it all the more worthwhile. I hope this post has shown the variety of indoor gross motor activities for toddlers and preschoolers that can be done at home without too much preparation or spending on expensive props.
There should be something enjoyable for everyone here, some toddlers are massively into balls and others into jumping, for example, so all bases are covered.
Remember that having fun is the main goal and will keep your toddler engaged for longer. So let them lead, explore and create their own way whilst developing those all-important gross motor skills.
Need more inspiration to keep your toddler or preschooler busy? Whatever the season, we’re sure to have some crafts to inspire you:
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- 41 Easy Fathers Day crafts for toddlers
- 45 Cute Mothers Day Crafts for toddlers & preschoolers to make
- 35 Mortifyingly fun mummy Crafts for Halloween
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- 50 Christmas crafts for preschoolers & fun, cute and mostly VERY simple
- 41 Fun, Easy & Adorable Nativity Crafts for Kids
- 41 Easy Santa Claus crafts for toddlers (inc. Santa hat crafts)