3 Fun Gross Motor Activities for Your 3-Year-Old

Watching your child grow and develop is one of the most rewarding parts of being a parent. You’ve made it through those early sleepless nights, have figured out feeding (as much as one can, given how often their tastes change – which is normally after you’ve bought their “favorite food” in bulk), and survived the terrible twos.

Part of being three is your child developing gross motor skills beyond walking, running, and jumping. Let’s explore what gross motor skills are, what skills your three-year-old should have, and some fun activities to help them develop their gross motor skills.


What Are Gross Motor Skills?


To start, let’s be clear on what is meant by gross motor skills. Gross motor skills are the skills that require the use of the whole body, compared to fine motor skills that involve dexterity and smaller muscles, such as the ones found in the hands and fingers. As your child develops, the gross motor skills change, like when they transition from standing to cruising to walking to running.


What Gross Motor Skills Should My 3-Year-Old Have?


At age three, your child should be able to do things like stand on one foot and make pedaling motions. Full bike riding comes a bit later – at this stage, we are not looking for the balance component – as being able to pedal a tricycle is challenging enough for them. If you have any concerns about your child’s development, be sure to check in with their pediatrician.


3 Fun Activities to Help Children Develop Gross Motor Skills


Read on to learn about three fun activities that can help your three-year-old develop their gross motor skills. These same activities are often found in daycares, which reinforces what kids are learning at home.


Playing at the park

Playing catch

Riding a tricycle


  1. Play at The Park


When you’re looking for the best park for your three-year-old, make sure the one you pick has equipment that is suitable for younger children. Appropriate jungle gyms are commonly shorter, smaller, and less complex to engage with than playgrounds for older children. Encourage your child to climb the structures and to practice going up and down the stairs unassisted.


  1. Play Catch


This wholesome activity is great for younger kids, not just children who are able to play pass with a baseball. With a three-year-old, use a larger ball, and start with rolling it back and forth. As they get more confident with their skills and aim, move to tossing the ball. Be sure you are fairly close, as it is the motion that develops their gross motor skills, with the strength and aim aspects both coming after they’ve mastered the basic throwing motion. This is also a great activity for practicing sharing and taking turns.


  1. Ride A Tricycle


As mentioned above, a tricycle is a great toy to help your child develop their gross motor skills. Similar to when you first started on solids and your baby was exploring the textures more than eating, riding a tricycle is more about the pedaling motion than it is about them using it as a mode of transportation. Don’t expect them to be able to go to the park on their trike, even if it is relatively close. There is a reason why you see many parents carrying tricycles home while their toddler walks beside them.


As with all skill development, it is important to allow your child to play and learn on their own timelines. When you don’t force it, it makes for a much more enjoyable experience for all involved. So have fun, be patient, and play!