Gross Motor Tools & Toys

Gross Motor, Gross Motor Play

UDL 5.3

Gross Motor Tools & Toys are manipulatives that strengthen students' large muscle groups to support daily functions such as walking, running and jumping. To support students’ gross motor development, teachers integrate a variety of gross motor tools (e.g., hula hoops, step stools, balls) into instruction, activities and centers to support students’ coordination, movement, balance and muscle strength. The teacher models how to appropriately use Gross Motor Tools & Toys and affords students frequent opportunities to practice during classroom activities or outdoor exercises once they have learned how to safely use the equipment. Gross Motor Tools & Toys effectively engage students in building strength, balance and coordination, all of which are necessary elements of children's physical development.

Implementation Tips

Selecting Tools & Toys
Choose Gross Motor Tools & Toys that are physically and developmentally appropriate for young children (e.g., bouncy balls, jump ropes, step stools). Consult state physical education standards and/or partner with a physical education specialist to target students' gross motor needs.
Modeling Use of Gross Motor Tools
Model appropriate use of Gross Motor Tools & Toys to demonstrate targeted skill-building exercises and ensure safety. Observe students as they use the tools, redirecting and reinforcing as necessary. Differentiate the use of tools for students that require accommodations.
Targeting Specific Skills
Utilize Gross Motor Tools & Toys to target specific gross motor skills. For instance, use bouncing balls to support coordination, step stools to build leg muscle strength or a stationary jump rope to practice balance.
Incorporating in Daily Routines
Include Gross Motor Tools & Toys daily in circle time, free play, learning centers and outdoor time. Once students have been properly trained how to use the equipment, make the toys and tools easily accessible to grant students frequent opportunities to develop gross motor skills.
Increasing Engagement
Introduce Gross Motor Tools & Toys that target sports instruction (e.g., basketball, t-ball, miniature golf, bowling) to motivate students' gross motor practice. Consider team sports (e.g., kick ball, soccer) to further motivate reluctant students.
Gross Motor Interventions
Be aware of students that may require additional gross motor support. Partner with specialists at your school site (e.g., Physical Therapist, Adaptive Physical Education Specialist) to help support students with more significant gross motor needs.
Obtaining Gross Motor Tools
Look for Gross Motor Tools & Toys at your school site. Jump ropes, balls and step stools are often available. Other, inexpensive Gross Motor Tools & Toys can be found at discount and department stores.
Using Music
Incorporate fun, upbeat music and chants into gross motor practice to increase student engagement. Books, audio recordings and videos are widely available (e.g., [[ | Anna Banana]], [[| Brain Boogie Boosters]], [[| Freeze Dance]], [[|Pop See Ko]]) and can be located with a quick internet search.


Outdoor Play
During outdoor play, the teacher has intentionally selected bouncy balls, jump ropes and hula hoops for students to play with in order to target students’ development of muscle strength, coordination, balance and movement. The teacher demonstrates the use of each of the Gross Motor Tools & Toys and facilitates student practice. As the students are practicing, the teacher offers encouragement and feedback (e.g., "Great effort! Try using two hands to catch the bouncy ball, like this."). After several days of practice, the teacher allows free exploration of the Gross Motor Tools & Toys during outdoor play. As students become more independent with the equipment, the teacher carefully observes and monitors students, offering support and redirection when necessary.
Learning Centers
During learning centers and choice time, the teacher prepares a gross motor station for students to engage in physical, indoor-appropriate activities. The teacher selects a bowling kit to promote movement and coordination. The teacher sets up a bowling station in the large meeting area during learning centers, but also offers students use of this game during free play. Students work in small groups to set up the bowling pins, taking turns rolling the ball to knock down the pins. The teacher closely observes students, offering support and direction to support students in targeting the most challenging pins.
A teacher notices that a student is struggling to engage in outdoor activities with peers. In particular, the student struggles to throw and catch a ball. To support the student's gross motor development, coordination and promote confidence, the teacher begins to work with the child during free play opportunities. The teacher selects soft, foam balls of varying sizes and practices throwing the different balls back and forth. Over time, the student is able to more confidently catch and throw a ball. To integrate the individual student's skill development into a whole group exercise, the teacher facilitates a bean bag toss game at a circle time meeting. As the students sit around the rug in a circle, the teacher begins the game by tossing the bean bag to a student. Students then carefully toss the bean bag to a peer as the game continues on.

Related Strategies