Gross Motor Skills for Early Childhood Development

Today is part two of the series on Motor Skills. Gross Motor Skills are the first motor movements in early childhood. They are the large movements of the body using the arms, legs, torso and feet. Sitting, catching, kicking, galloping, crawling, walking, running, jumping, are considered gross motor skills.

There are many activities that can develop gross motor skills. Balancing on beams, standing on dots, crawling and climbing develop coordination, control, laterality, and synchronize the right and left body sides. Other activities consist of students crawling, going over and under objects during relays and obstacles courses.

Hopping helps control body and balance. Students can hop around objects such a low boxes and cones, dots or stepping stones. Jumping develops overall gross motor skills and coordination. Students can also jump over objects, string, a line or beanbags. Students can kick balls, balloons of various sizes.

Fine Motor Skills for Early Childhood

Today is the third and final segment of the Motor Movement Series. Fine Motor Movements use the small muscles of the eyes, fingers, toes, wrists, lips and tongue. The small muscles work with both the large muscles to develop movement. They are often for used communication purposes, both functional and expressive, such as writing or typing text, manipulating tools or creating works of art. There is coordination of the eyes and hand, foot and eyes, and dexterity of each of the fingers to write, draw and type. Tactile and space awareness is also developed with fine motor practice.

Some activities used to teach writing include writing letters or numbers in sand, pudding, or shaving cream. Q-tips or cosmetic sponges with water writing on the chalkboard reinforce correct formation of text using water to erase letters. Toothbrushes on dry erase boards manipulate practice with downward and circular brushing movements erasing previously correct formed letters, numbers or words. Dry and wet pasta, beans and rice, other paper mediums, glitter, teach writing with correct placement on paper or cardboard.

I hear of offices and classrooms using stability balls instead of typical chairs. Is this a good idea?

Stability balls have been a long-standing tool to help not just with exercise. They started out as a physical therapy tool. During the late 1960s, Dr. Susan Klein-Vogelbach of Basel, Switzerland, was the first individual to use the balls, particularly with those having orthopedic problems. Despite their Italian origin, “Swiss balls” got their name from American physical therapists who witnessed the use of the balls while visiting several Switzerland clinics. In 1989, physical therapist Joanne Posner-Mayer began instructing U.S. therapists on the neurological, orthopedic, and fitness applications of stability balls. Today, athletic trainers, strength coaches, personal trainers, and physical therapists around the world use stability balls in fitness and rehab programs. Most recently, teachers and principals have discovered the use of stability balls in a classroom as an effective teaching tool. My classroom has been the recipient of ten stability balls, due to the generous contributions of a grant organized by my principal Patricia Ransford, vice principal Jo Ross, and a non-profit organization called Donatenow.org.

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