Ten Indoor Gross Motor Activities for Toddlers

By Christina Clemer

I’ve been looking for more indoor gross motor options for my son James. I am a big believer that giving toddlers enough opportunities for big movement helps immeasurably with their behavior.

A toddler climbing on all of the furniture isn’t being “bad,” he just has a strong need to develop his muscles and gross motor capabilities and will use whatever is available to that end. So if we want to be able to redirect them away from unsafe / undesired climbing / running / throwing, it’s only fair to provide an appropriate outlet.

Here are some options I love!

  • Beanbag toss – Set up a basket and show your toddler how to toss beanbags into it. As he gets better at it, make the basket smaller or move it further away.
  • Appropriate climbing – For a young toddler, this could simply be placing large couch cushions on the floor to climb on. For an older toddler, establish clear guidelines for what they’re allowed to climb on. For us, climbing on tables is strictly off limits, but he’s allowed to climb on the couch (and has learned how to get down safely by himself). I also still really want one of these, but haven’t pulled the trigger yet….
  • Carrying something heavy – Young children seek out “maximum effort” activities. They like to run as fast as they can and they like to carry objects as heavy as possible. They’re like little cross fitters. Try providing something heavy, such as a weighted ball, for your child to carry around the room when he needs to use his big muscles.
  • Distance Games – Place a puzzle frame on one side of the room and a basket with the pieces on the other side of the room. Your toddler can walk back and forth across the room each time he needs a piece. This works better for older toddlers, as it requires greater concentration and memory than most younger toddlers would possess.
  • Balance Beam –  This would be simple to make yourself and I definitely plan on doing it soon. Walking on a beam helps children with concentration and coordination, in addition to being a great gross motor option.

If we want to be able to redirect them away from unsafe / undesired climbing / running / throwing, it’s only fair to provide an appropriate outlet.

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