Crossing Midline March Gross Motor Activity

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Crossing Midline is a developmental ability that is important for so many gross motor tasks.  When a child has difficulty with crossing midline, they will demonstrate ineffiecncy with fine motor skills, too.   We had fun one winter day with a Midline March activity to work on some of these skills as we got some of our wiggles out!

Midline march. Crossing midline gross motor activity to help with handwriting, and bilateral hand coordination skill.

What is Crossing Midline? 

What is crossing midline and why is it important to a child's development?

So, what exactly is midline?  Midline of the body is an imaginary line that drops from the middle of the head, strait down over the nose, to the belly button and divides the body into left and right sides.  Crossing midline refers to moving the left hand/arm/foot/leg across this line to the right side (and vise versa).  Crossing midline also refers to twisting the body in rotation around this imaginary line, and leaning the upper or body across the middle of the body.

Why is crossing midline important to a child’s development?

When a child crosses midline efficiently, he or she can use their dominant hand in skilled tasks.  They develop a dominant hand and the other extremity becomes the assisting hand.  

When the child does not exhibit midline crossing, they tend to use both hands equally in tasks like handwriting, coloring, and cutting with scissors.  Using both hands together in a coordinated manner (bilateral hand coordination) allows kids to cross midline during tasks.  If they have difficulty with crossing midline, a child will switch hands during handwriting because both hands get practice with pencil manipulation.  

The child might rotate their whole body instead of twisting at the trunk or shift their weight in a task rather than leaning the upper body over the midline.  

You can often times observe a tendency to avoid midline crossing in activities such as kicking a ball, throwing beanbags, switching hands in coloring, difficulty with putting on pants and shoes independently, and difficulty with visual tracking and reading.

Activities to help with Crossing Midline:

When you are watching for midline crossing, you should observe kids playing in normal situations.  A child will demonstrate a tendency to avoid crossing midline in activities or tasks, but if “set up” to cross the midline (i.e. setting items to the left of the body and asking them to reach over the midline with their right hand), they will typically be able to complete the requested movement pattern, but not carry over the action in a normal situation.  

Our midline march activity was a marching parade with Stop Stations.  We marched along to music and when I turned off the sound, the kids had to do a midline task.  

I asked them to stop and pound their left hand on the right knee, or touch the opposite foot, or put their elbow on the opposite knee.  This quick start and stop activity allowed them to practice crossing midline without over-thinking about the action.

More activities to practice crossing midline:

  • Rotate the body in a twisting motion.
  • Bend the upper body side to side.
  • Play Simon Says.
  • Thread lids on a long string.
  • Wash a large wall with big swooping arm motions.
  • Erase a large chalkboard.
  • Scoop balloons in a water bin.
  • Wash a car.  Encourage the child to use large circular motions with the sponge.
  • Kick a ball.
  • Toss bean bags. (Encourage upper body movement!)
  • Squirt gun activities at targets.
  • Play with magnets on the garage door.
  • Play Twister.
  • Hit a ball with a bat.
  • Play flashlight tag.
  • Show the child how to write their name in the air with large arm movements.
  • Bend over at the waist and swing the arm side to side, in large circles, and in figure 8 motions.
  • Play with scarves to music.

This post is part of the Gross Motor A-Z series hosted by Still Playing School. You can see all of the gross motor activities here.

Our favorite ways to work on gross motor skills:

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