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A List of Gross Motor Skills Examples by Age

In early childhood, children develop and learn to coordinate the large muscles of their bodies. This is known as gross motor development.

Some general examples of gross motor skills are:

  • Learning to walk
  • Throwing and catching a ball
  • Walking backwards and forwards
  • Climbing up a ladder
  • Riding a tricycle
  • Balancing while walking along a low wall
  • Hitting a tennis ball over the net

Below is a list of gross motor skills examples by age, from babies all the way up to children in primary/elementary school.

It lists some of the typical gross motor movements you can expect kids to do at certain ages.

It is a guideline only, as children develop at their own pace and may reach some milestones earlier or later.

Children build gross motor skills naturally through play but you can also plan movement activities that give them lots of freedom to explore movement and strengthen their bodies.  

Here are some of the best types of gross motor activities. They are simple and will give kids tons of practice in developing their larger muscles.

It’s also beneficial to give children access to a few, select gross motor toys – such as balls, scooters and skipping ropes. 

The most important ingredient is giving children lots of time to play. Babies need lots of floor time to explore movement, and older children need lots of indoor and outdoor free play time.

Here are the examples for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and children of school-going age.

ultimate list of gross motor skills examples pinterest image

Gross Motor Skills Examples for Infants

These examples are for infants up to about 18 months:

  • Controlling head and neck
  • Rolling over onto tummy or back
  • Sitting
  • Reaching for a toy
  • Crawling or shuffling
  • Pulling to a standing position (by holding onto furniture)
  • Standing and walking
baby learning how to walk

Gross Motor Skills Examples for Toddlers

Here are some typical movements from around 18 months to 3 years:

  • Walking backwards and forwards
  • Running while navigating obstacles
  • Sitting on a chair
  • Carrying a doll or toy around
  • Pushing and pulling toys
  • Walking up and down stairs
  • Climbing onto furniture and simple play equipment
  • Throwing and kicking a large ball
  • Riding a push bike or scooter
  • Balancing along a low beam or wall
  • Jumping with feet together
  • Going down slides
toddler sliding down a slide

Gross Motor Skills Examples for Preschoolers

Children of ages 3 to 6 years develop these skills:

  • Walking and running backwards, forwards and sideways
  • Playing chasing games
  • Stopping and changing direction while running
  • Playing movement games with simple rules
  • Standing on tiptoes and walking heel-toe
  • Pedalling and steering a tricycle or bicycle
  • Hopping, jumping and skipping
  • Galloping 
  • Playing ball games
  • Balancing and hopping on one leg
  • Carrying objects up and down stairs
  • Climbing ladders, trees and playground equipment
  • Swinging independently
  • Walking along a balancing beam
  • Sitting with knees crossed
  • Aiming and hitting, throwing, bouncing, kicking or catching a ball
  • Learning to swim
  • Dancing rhythmically to music
  • Riding a standing scooter
  • Digging holes
preschooler riding a scooter

Read all about gross motor skills for preschoolers.

Gross Motor Skills Examples for Children in Elementary/Primary School

Children in the early grades and beyond can often participate in organized sports and more complex activities and movements. Here are some examples:

  • Playing movement games with complex rules
  • Riding a bicycle
  • Roller-skating
  • Skipping with a skipping rope
  • Doing somersaults
  • Swimming strokes
  • Doing dances with complex steps
  • Movements involved in organized sports, such as tennis, cricket, netball, hockey, etc.

For more detail, here is a full list of gross motor milestones between the ages of 0 and 6.

Sources:

Pieterse, M. 2007. Language and School Readiness. Metz Press: Welgemoed.

Sheridan, M. 1997. From Birth to Five Years: Children’s Developmental Progress. Routledge: London.

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