Fall Gross Motor Activity
Fall is here, and with it comes cooler weather, beautiful Fall foliage, and leaf covered yards. Most likely you have been cooped up in your house way too long trying to escape the summer heat and are ready to get moving outside! “Pin the Leaf on the Tree” is the perfect outdoor (or indoor depending on the weather) game to play! Your child will have a blast practicing important developmental motor skills they have learned during their physical therapy sessions while enjoying the beauty of fall.
Setting Up the Activity
- Print out the bare tree and colorful leaves with actions written on them provided here: Fall Gross Motor Printable
- Adhere the tree to a wall, fence, deck, tree, or easel in a location that allows for plenty of room to move.
- Place the leaves approximately 15-20 feet away from the tree. The leaves can have tape/velcro on them or be attached to a close pin.
- Have your child pick up a leaf, read the skill, practice the skill all the way to the tree, adhere it, and make their way back to the pile of leaves.
The Activities and Their Benefits:
- Tandem/tightrope walking – perfect for strengthening feet, ankle, and hip muscles necessary to maintain good balance! This helps your child become safer walking on different types of surfaces.
- Sidestepping – a great way to strengthen your child’s hips and improve their coordination by making them focus on how their feet are moving in space as well as paying attention to where they are going. It also gets your child moving in different directions which is a great way to ensure your child is getting maximum strength and function as well as practicing more dynamic balance skills.
- Lunge walks – work on dynamic balance, leg strength, and coordination. Your child will be challenged with this exercise as they work on moving each leg in different ways by keeping one leg bent and the other straight as they move towards the target.
- Single leg hopping – a skill that doesn’t develop until approximately the age of 5. It is a fun way to practice balance, strengthen muscles throughout the leg, and work on motor planning skills as your child figures out how to maintain stability while hopping towards the tree.
- Galloping – an excellent way to prepare your child for activities such as running, skipping, and jumping by working on leg strength and coordination skills since each leg is doing something different.
- Skipping – a fun, but challenging higher coordination activity that aids in brain development by working both sides of the brain to coordinate movement as well as strengthen bone density.
- Kangaroo hops – get your child practicing the art of jumping by taking small double leg hops to the tree! They help improve muscle development, balance, and coordination as your child works to bend their hips and knees, press through both feet to take off, and land with a slight bend in the knees.
- Frog Jumps – work on the wonderful skill of jumping by practicing getting low to the ground and taking off with both feet. Frog jumps are a fun way to strengthen your child’s legs and bones through compression, using all foot and ankle muscles to take off, and balance skills to land on both feet.
- Bear walks – weight bearing through both arms and legs as your child moves each extremity in an alternating pattern not only helps with whole body strengthening, but also brain development by working on both sides of the brain as your child motor plans how to move both sides of their body.
- Crab walks – another great way to work on your child’s core muscles from a different angle than the bear walks! Crab walks are a total body workout that strengthens the body and works on brain development through motor planning and coordinating opposing sides of the body.
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