It can be hard to find something that interests and encourages children to stay active. Holidays and weekends, especially in winter, can be especially challenging. Do you find it hard to think of new ideas to keep active minds and bodies occupied at home during the holidays, weekends or rainy days?

Our early childhood education team has come up with 13 fun ways to help your preschool child be active, learn through play, and use those gross motor skills. Check out our other article that explains what gross motor skills are https://www.aka.org.nz/blog/gross-motor-skills-explained.

  1. Scavenger hunt – Encourages: focus and concentration.
    Activity: To make it even more fun (and challenging), do it in the evening with torches. Hide objects – toys, books, favourite items of clothing – for children to find.  You can give children clues (use images for younger children who don’t yet read) and make the game as hard or as easy as needs be. EXTRA:  To help encourage Early Literacy, place letters, numbers and words around the house and ask them to identify what they find.
  2. Treasure hunt – Encourages: fine and gross motor skills as well as keeping busy minds occupied on an exciting task.
    Activity: Drape string around a room, through chairs, tables, and upstairs, with ‘treasures’ to discover along the way. Have them follow it through, going in and out, under and over to see what they can find. Make it more fun by hiding their favourite toys and books along the way.
  3. Tape road – Encourages: fine and gross motor skills, maneuvering objects around a track.
    Activity: Tape a road through a room – or if you are really adventurous the entire house – and let them trucks, diggers, cars over it.  This is a great activity if your child loves cars and encourages their interest while developing their skills.
  4. Messy active art – Encourages: creativity, communication, gross and fine motor skills, problem solving, science and early mathematic concepts.
    Activity: Not really a rainy activity as it is best to do this outside so you aren’t worrying about the wallpaper or the carpet. Dip some ribbons in paint and throw at paper. Dip balls in paint and throw/kick around paper.
  5. Mission Impossible – Encourages: concentration and problem-solving
    Activity: Construct a string ‘spider web’ in the hallway for them to crawl through. Add pompoms or cotton balls – or other treasures – for them to collect along the way.
  6. ABC Ball – Encourages: gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
    Activity: Pass a ball back and forth calling out letters, numbers, words – or anything they are currently learning. Focus on something they are interested in will develop their love of learning. EXTRA: Tailor this to encourage early literacy, math, science.
  7. Spider web – Encourages: gross motor skills with large throwing movements of the arm, learning how the world works, cause and effect, hand-eye coordination.
    Activity: Make a sticky spider web from masking tape and throw balls of newspaper at it to see how many will stick. This is a fun way to encourage healthy competition.
  8. Connect the dots – Encourages: creativity, problem solving, and imagination.
    Activity: Place masking tape dots on the floor or wall and get them to create a maze or pictures with either chalk or masking tape. You could create letters, numbers and shapes. They are moving around, manipulating the tape with their hands and thinking in depth about how to solve this problem. What pictures can they make? What images can they create from their imagination?
  9. Action dice – Encourages: developing gross motor skills by encouraging children to jump, skip, run, clap.
    Activity: Write different actions – jump, stretch, clap, skip, sit down –  on each side of a small box. Take turns to roll the ‘dice’ and perform the action it requires.
  10. Balloon fun – Encourages: gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination, problem-solving skills, and cause and effect concepts.
    Activity: Blow up balloons and then go wild:  throw them, pop them, sit on them, kick them, roll them. Balloons are an interesting object as they can be unpredictable. Many things affect balloons and each one can be quite different. EXTRA: Take the balloons outside to create an even bigger – and more fun – challenge.
  11. Walk the line – Encourages: balance and concentration.
    Activity: Draw different shaped lines on the ground with chalk or tape to use as ‘balance beams’ to follow using one step in front of the other. Create different types of lines –  straight, squiggly, shapes, zig zags – to make things more fun. EXTRA: Blow ping pong balls along that lines too.
  12. Cardboard slide – Encourages:  balance, problem-solving, early science concepts (learning about gravity, friction, movement) and gross motor skills.
    Activity: Use a flattened cardboard box to slide down a small hill/slope. Learning to take calculated risks and knowing limits is an essential part of learning in a physical sense. And it’s as much fun for parents as it is for children.
  13. Hopscotch – Encourages: gross motor skills (hopping and balancing), math and early literacy (recognising and counting the numbers in the hopscotch).
    Activity: Mark a hopscotch ladder outside with chalk or inside with masking tape and hop from square to square, missing the square on which the marker is placed.