Activities for Three-Year-Olds in Physical Development

A three-year-old is full of wonder at the world. He uses all his senses to explore his environment. He has mastered some gross motor skills, such as walking and throwing, and fine-tuning his fine motor skills, such as holding a spoon. To help in the physical development of your three-year-old, you should offer activities that develop his gross and fine motor skills.


A three-year-old enjoys taking her clothes on and off. Rather than forcing an outfit onto your child, give her some freedom to experiment with putting on her own clothing. Trying buttons and zippers fine-tunes her fine motor skills. Let her take her shoes on and off. She may need help with laces, but three-year-olds can learn to use Velcro fasteners on shoes.


Feeding time may be messier if you let your child feed himself, but self-feeding is an opportunity for his hand-eye coordination. Offer toddler spoons and safety forks for your three-year-old. Place the food in bowls, so he can scoop food out easily. Use a bib and a floor mat to make cleanup easier.

Ball Play

Give your child a ball for throwing and kicking. These activities help with gross motor skills. Visit a local park or your backyard with the ball, and play with your three-year-old. Your child will learn by watching you use the ball. Throw it in the air and kick with both feet. Gently toss the ball to your child, and she will try to throw it to you too.

Action Songs

Traditional nursery rhymes and songs, such as "Itsy, Bitsy Spider," help develop fine motor skills. Children sing along and mimic your finger movements. Songs, such as "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" help children with gross motor skills. As you touch each body part, children practice coordination. Action songs also develop language and focusing development.


A playground offers many activities for a three-year-old's physical development. Let your child climb up stairs by himself and go down the slide by himself. Playground equipment helps with gross motor skills. Bring along a bucket and shovels for sand play, which develops fine motor skills. Children also benefit from observing other older children playing. Your three-year-old may mimic the older kids, and try to learn new skills by himself.


A three-year-old is ready to try riding a tricycle. Take the tricycle to a safe, flat area, and let your child practice pedalling. She may need some time, but by the end of the year, she should be ready to ride her tricycle by herself. Using a tricycle develops coordination and gross motor skills.

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About the Author

Charong Chow has been writing professionally since 1995. Her work has appeared in magazines such as "Zing" and "Ocean Drive." Chow graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy. She also received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the California Institute of the Arts.