Large Muscle Group Activities for Preschoolers

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

As a preschool teacher, one of your jobs is to help your students develop their strength and gross motor skills. This lesson offers activities you can use to work on large muscle groups with preschoolers.

The Importance of Large Muscle Groups

If you are a preschool teacher, you know that overseeing your students overall development is a big part of your job. As you watch your students grow cognitively and facilitate their learning, you are also thinking about their physical, social, and emotional development.

One aspect of development in the preschool years has to do with using large muscle groups, also sometimes known as gross motor strength. These are the muscles that let students run around, lift things, and generally work with their legs and arms. Because so many of the games young children play are physical, facilitating large muscle group development can also help with social skills.

The activities in this lesson will keep your students motivated and engaged while working on their large muscle groups.

Indoor Activities

A rainy day does not have to mean no gross motor development! Here are some large muscle group activities you can do indoors with your students.

Freeze Dance

So many preschoolers love music and are engaged by to music and movement. To do this activity, move furniture out of the way to create an open space for your students to move in.

Put on some music and encourage your students to dance freely, using their whole bodies in rhythm with the music. Then, stop the music and explain that they should freeze. Every time you put the music back on, they get to start moving again. Vary your timing so that students do not know when to expect to freeze; you will be surprised by the fun and laughter that ensues!

Is This You?

This activity incorporates receptive language as well as large muscle group work.

Have your students line up at one side of your classroom. Then, say a descriptor, such as:

  • I love ice cream.
  • My birthday is in the winter.
  • My favorite color is blue.

Then say, 'Is this you?' If the descriptor is true of a child, he or she should walk with giant steps to the other side of the room. You can also vary the kind of movement; have students tip-toe, crawl, or skip if the descriptor is true about them.

Outdoor Activities

The playground and schoolyard are ideal places to practice with large muscle groups! Here are some activities to facilitate this work out of doors.

Move Like A...

Many preschool students really love animals. For this activity, they practice making their bodies move like some of the animals they love!

Call out one animal at a time, and ask your students to move around the playground in a manner that reminds them of that animal. You may be impressed by their strength as they slither like snakes, hop like frogs, or even prowl like cheetahs!

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