What Are Some Physical Development Activities for Preschool Children?

Preschoolers learn how to control and further their physical development and movement patterns through activities and play. Large muscle skills, or gross motor skills, necessary for running and throwing, develop faster than fine motor development skills, which progress at a slower pace at this age. Physical activities that develop and nurture preschoolers' coordination, fine motor skills and gross motor skills will help them develop physically, and may improve their interactions and play times with one another.

Coordination Games

A preschooler's center of gravity is located in the upper body; the child's lower half has not yet developed proportionally to the upper half. This imbalance renders preschoolers susceptible to falls, and they may experience difficulty while trying to balance. Hopping on one foot and balancing on one foot for as long as possible provide physical activity while improving coordination and balance. “Hopping” races allow multiple preschoolers to participate and observe their peers' challenges and successes. This may lead to improvements in self confidence and help teach preschoolers how to support each other.

“Freeze dancing” requires both physical participation and coordination of body movements. While the music plays, the students dance. When you press pause, they “freeze” or stop dancing. Rather than eliminating students for moving, just restate the goal of the game and allow all children to play each time. Otherwise, eliminated children may become bored and inactive while others remain in the game.

Fine Motor Skill Activities

Father pointing, daughter (2-4) on father's shoulders, smiling

Large Muscle Development in Infants

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Activities that require fine motor skills, such as writing, playing with small objects and tying shoes, challenge preschoolers. Choosing physical activities for play time is more developmentally appropriate than requiring preschoolers to sit down and engage in quiet activities. Incorporating games that sharpen and strengthen preschoolers' fine motor skills into physical activities will help them learn to control smaller physical movements. For example, take preschoolers on a nature walk through the woods as an informal way to get active and improve their fine motor skills. During the walk, pause and ask the children to collect sticks and pebbles. Throwing the pebbles into a river or creek challenges their coordination, while utilizing different muscles in their bodies.

Large Muscle Development Games

Preschoolers' large muscle skills are typically more advanced than their other skills. Running around the playground, playing tag and skipping all promote muscular development. These activities help teach preschoolers how to master movement patterns and physical skills in relation to themselves, their environment and their peers. While preschool children can benefit from organized activities, such as:

  • “Duck
  • Duck
  • Goose”
  • “London Bridge,” their short attention spans often dictate the length of activities

Providing preschoolers with balls for throwing and kicking, without dictating game rules they are too young to understand, allows preschoolers to explore and improve their physical development skills.