What activities promote physical development in children?

Updated February 21, 2017

Children begin developing their gross and fine motor skills almost from the day they are born. Parents and teachers can help promote healthy physical development in children through the use of a variety of activities and games. Gross motor skills develop first and include muscle tone, muscle strength, range of motion and the quality of movements. Fine motor skills come next and include being able to manipulate things with one's hands, visual motor skills, manipulating writing instruments, hand-eye coordination and motor planning.

Family Walks

Create a tradition of family walks. Start when your child is in a stroller and keep it up as she gets older. Incorporate games into your walks that keep your children moving and having fun. You can take turns alternating walking, marching, jogging, skipping and running, with each movement having its own "secret" word that anyone in the family can call out. You can even hold indoor parades where each member of the family pretends to be a different animal and moves the way that animal would move.


Dance is a fun way to get everyone in the family moving and promote physical development in children. Turn the music on and engage in freestyle dancing or play musical games like musical chairs, the Hokey-Pokey, freeze dance or wiggle dancing. The Family Education website offers a whole list of different dance and movement games that you can play with your children indoors. These include ABC Shapes, Circle Dancing, Fireworks Dance and Rubber-Neck Dance. You can also enrol your child in more formal dance lessons. Dance lessons are usually available from age preschool through adult at dance studios and community centres.

Sandbox Play

Set up a sandbox in your backyard and fill it with toys that encourage fine motor development. Get in the box with your child and play games together that involve tracing routes in the sand, filling buckets and emptying them, digging and drawing pictures. All of these activities encourage fine motor development, and the sand helps create a physical memory on your child's fingertips. Encourage imaginative play by creating scenes of spacescapes or underwater paradises or enchanted forests.

Playground Games

Many traditional playground games have survived the test of time because they contribute so much to a child's physical development. Round up a group of kids and introduce such playground games as tag, hide and seek, kickball, hopscotch, dodge ball, Red Light-Green Light or Red Rover. Consider introducing a different game each week of the summer or holding competitions or mock tournaments where every child is recognised for participating.

Skipping Rope Games

A skipping rope is a tool for promoting physical development in children because it lends itself to a variety of activities. Stretch the rope out in a straight line and have your child pretend to be a tightrope walker. Once she excels at walking along the line, thave her hop or skip along the line. Make the skipping rope into a circle on the floor. Direct your child to jump into and out of the circle. As he learns to do that well, increase the difficulty by having him hop in and out of the circle on one foot, tiptoe, skip or jump backward. When your child is ready, teach her how to jump-rope and play skipping rope games with her and her friends.

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About the Author

As a professional writer since 1985, Bridgette Redman's career has included journalism, educational writing, book authoring and training. She's worked for daily newspapers, an educational publisher, websites, nonprofit associations and individuals. She is the author of two blogs, reviews live theater and has a weekly column in the "Lansing State Journal." She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Michigan State University.