how to improve children's motor skills

5 ways educators can improve children's motor skills with just a piece of paper and masking tape

Children's motor development doesn't require fancy equipment or expensive resources.


Here are 5 activities that you can implement into your day to improve children's motor skill development with just a piece of paper and masking tape.


1 - Let's Jump

how to improve children's motor skills

Children should be able to jump with both feet at the same time on the spot at the age of 3 years. Children should be able to jump with both feet in a forward direction (like this photo) at the age of 4 years. However, I see a large number of children aged 5 years struggling with this gross motor skill.

Jumping uses the part of the brain called the cerebellum. This part of the brain is responsible for our gross motor skill of balance, as well as focus, concentration, and attention. As a result, children who typically find it difficult to jump and
balance, may also find it hard to focus and may be easily distracted in the classroom because their cerebellum is underdeveloped.

So learning to jump on the spot and jump forward is one of the crucial skills needed for the development of children’s development and learning.


Place 5 strips of masking tape onto the ground and encourage children to jump with both feet onto each strip of masking tape. It's important that children place more emphasis on accuracy of their jumping than how quickly they can zoom across the 5 strips of tape.

2 - Spin and throw

how to improve children's motor skills

In order for you to be able to read these words right now, without skipping words, getting a headache, seeing letters in reverse, you firstly need to have the ability to:

1. Understand the position of your body and where the book is positioned in space - we test this skill by seeing if you can smoothly locate the position between your finger tip and your nose with your eyes open and your eyes closed [body awareness/proprioception]

2. Ability to move your head up and down, and left to right then still being able to stabilise your eyes from up and down and left to right without losing orientation or experiencing excessive dizziness [balance and spatial orientation/vestibular]


Pop a piece of paper on the wall, have the child sit on a wobbly seat or stack of 2 to 3 cushions and throw a ball to hit the paper. Move that piece of paper up and down, left and right as they advance.


3 - Trace ball along line

gross motor skill activity

Children are currently showing lower ball skills than previous generations. While we don't need all children to be elite athletes, we would like our children to grow up being confident with their movement, so that when our children are teenagers they are living an active lifestyle, running around and playing with their peers, rather than sitting sedentary.


Physical activity confidence starts with being able to build up fundamental movement skills such as throwing and catching a ball, jumping, hopping, skipping, etc.


We need basic gross motor skills to develop fundamental movement skills such as reaching, grasping, bilateral coordination, core strength, crossing the midline, visual tracking, spatial awareness, etc.



Create a masking tape grid onto the ground similar to pictured above and encourage children to roll a ball or a rolled up piece of paper along the masking tape line, ideally with their dominant hand all the way from one corner of the grid to the other.
Their dominant hand doing all of the tracing movement promotes the skill called crossing the midline, and also builds up spatial awareness, shoulder stabilisation, visual tracking, and core strength.


4 - Tunnel ball

gross motor skill activities

Tunnel ball is a fun activity that encourages important gross motor skills including: core strength, vestibular balance and balance.


More importantly tunnel ball is usually a group activity which teaches children about the importance of working cooperatively with others, waiting their turn, standing patiently in line. These social skills are just as important as the motor skills involved in this activity.


If you don't have a group of children to play tunnel ball with, place a basket on the ground and encourage children to roll the ball through their legs and into the basket (as pictured).
If you have a group of children to play tunnel ball, ask all children to stand in a straight line with their body bent forward like the picture above. Work as a team to tap the ball through the legs of each person.
The aim of this game is to tap the ball with accuracy so that every child in the line gets to tap the ball. Try to avoid one child tapping the ball so hard that not every child has a turn to master their motor skills.


5 - Tear paper

motor skills activities for children

Tearing paper is one of the most important fine motor skill activities to learn. Tearing paper using the first two fingers and thumb encourages the last two fingers (ring finger and little finger) to relax. This progresses a child's fine motor skills from a full grasp position (toddler) to a pincer grip position (preschooler).


When observing children tear paper, make sure that children aren't:

  • Using their shoulders and elbows to try and tear the paper
  • Using all of their 5 fingers on each hand to try and tear the paper


Instead, encourage children to:

  • Keep their ring finger and little finger tucked away from the paper, so their first two fingers and thumb tear the paper
  • Tuck their elbows in towards their ribs, rather than having their elbows out away from the body


Provide children with a piece of paper to tear into 6 long strips, then tear each of the 6 strips into 20 small squares. By giving children a number of strips and square to aim for, we will reduce the possibility of children rushing through the activity.


Once you have 120 squares of paper either do a mosaic piece of art, pretend to feed the toy dinosaurs, or create fairy garden stepping stones with the paper.


PS. If you love this content, you will love my free gross motor skills resource package

free gross motor activities


For more activity ideas order my Early Childhood Movement Program book


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1 comment

I would like to have this book to help my learner’s. Thanks

Marie Benson

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