In this guest post Anastasia of Montessori Nature shares some great ideas for getting children outdoors and active in nature to develop gross motor skills.
Our casual, frequent walks in nature provide fun adventures, promote healthy habits, and help me to create a stronger bond with my child. We enjoy using our imagination to create gross motor challenges together using whatever natural materials we find. In the past, when I was working with preschool children, I learnt that regular gross motor exercises are essential for child’s development and contribute to many aspects of their well-being. They;
- Help children learn to move around efficiently
- Are great for general fitness
- Help children to comprehend directions
- Facilitate speech and fine motor development
- Help children with organization of the body
- Assist children to be aware of body positioning and space
- Are great for the development of good posture
We use sticks, trees, boulders and whatever else we find to make an obstacle course or a series of challenges to practice jumping, crawling, skipping and more. Here are a few activities you might like to try:
- Walking along a fallen branch sideways, forwards or backwards.
- Balancing on a stick or fallen branch
- Walking along different surfaces, like moss, rocks, sticks, grass
- Stepping up and down or from one rock/stick to another
- Walking on toes or on heels around trees or other obstacles
- Stepping or jumping over or on sticks
- Jumping over progressively larger branches or twigs
- Jumping from side to side/forwards/backwards
We also like to pretend to be different animals to practice walking on all fours, doing crab walk sideways, bear walking, cat stretching, penguin walking without banding knees, frog jumps, etc. It is also a lot of fun to bring a ball with you to add kicking, rolling and throwing to your movement fun.
Each time we only pick 4-6 different exercises to keep it short, playful and fun. Last time we went looking for trees growing next to each other to squeeze in between, jumped over twigs we found on the ground and tried balancing on a branch. My daughter was very engaged and focused the whole time.
Another fun way to get children moving in nature is to incorporate a scavenger hunt into your playtime. It’s easy to do with an egg carton or a paper bag to collect small natural treasures into. I print and laminate this scavenger hunt printable, glue it to the top of an egg carton or on the outside of paper bag and off we go on our adventure!
What are your favorite things to do with your child in nature?
Anastasia is an early childhood teacher, raising a trilingual, fun, mischievous and gorgeous girl. She is a strong believer in natural, purposeful and meaningful learning. She implements Montessori education in her teaching and writing. Anastasia aims to connect every part of her life with nature and natural living. She is a writer and editor of Montessori Nature blog.