The Winter Wiggles, Part 3: Gross Motor-Focused Activities for Your Child with Special Needs

Please note that while these ideas were created with kids in mind, people of all ages and abilities may find these activities beneficial!

Making sure your child with special needs continues progressing with his or her physical therapy goals can prove to be much more difficult during the winter months than any other time of year. For some creative ideas to keep your kids active and engaged, we turned to Molly Gilchrest, a physical therapist with Genesis Outpatient Pediatric Therapy Center in Bettendorf, Iowa. Try one—or all—of these activities for some indoor fun!

Balance Beam

Tape a line on the floor and have your kiddo walk on the line without taking any extra steps off. Make this more challenging by having them walk with a bean bag on their head, or with arms out and a bean bag balancing on each hand. Using an elevated surface, such as a folded towel or blanket, also increases the difficulty. Have that mastered? Try having your child jump over and back  on the line, or side to side.

Tip: For a new twist, consider taping a zig-zag pattern or in a circle rather than a straight line.

Create an Obstacle Course

Utilize pillows, couch cushions, step stools, pool noodles, chairs to climb under, and other household items to create an obstacle course. You can have your kiddo climb up, crawl across, crawl under, or jump over to each new surface and obstacle.

Animal Actions and Walks

Bring the zoo indoors by using pictures of animals to imitate the way they walk or pose. These can include, slither like a snake, walk like a bear, stand like a flamingo, hop like a bunny, walk with your toes up like a penguin, walk on your tip-toes like a giraffe, crab walk, gallop like a horse, and many more!

Indoor Ice Skating

Help your child strengthen their core and work on balance at the same time with this winter-themed indoor activity. Use paper plates or pieces of wax paper and pretend to skate around the carpet!

At-Home Bowling

Gather some paper towel or toilet paper rolls and set up your own at-home bowling lane using those as pins. Have your child squat down to roll a ball towards the pins.

Tip: If single-leg balance is still a challenge, have your child practice kicking the ball toward these targets instead of rolling it.

Ready for some more fun? Be sure to check out the other two parts of our Winter Wiggles series, Communication-Focused Activities and Sensory-Focused Activities, for more ways to keep your children active and working on their overall skill development!

Have you tried any of these activities yet? Let us know your favorites in the comments below, or any ways you’ve adapted these ideas to make them work for your family!

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