We are continuing with our Polar Bear Theme with all kinds of play ideas. Check out the polar bear gross motor activities listed here and challenge kids to move, and develop coordination, balance, direction changes, movement patterns, core strength, stability, and more. These polar bear activities go well with our polar bear gross motor virtual therapy slide deck, too, so you’ll want to check that out as well. Add gross motor play to your winter line-up!
Polar Bear Gross Motor Activity
For this gross motor activity, you’ll need masking tape, some couch cushions, and other small items (cotton batting, polar bear figures, or other materials can be used).
Start by creating a path with the masking tape. We made a zig zag path across the room, but the options are limitless here.
The masking tape path is perfect for polar bear crawls, toe walking, walking backwards, and knee walking.
Masking Tape Balance Beam Ideas
Once the masking tape is positioned on the floor, there are so many ways to use this in therapy in a classroom, hallway, clinic, or therapy at home activity.
I put a couple of pillows at the end to make a “snow pile” for the polar bears. Your kids can jump or hop into the pillows, or use them as balance challenges.
We put some cotton batting along the path that the kids had to bend and stoop to grasp using one hand or the other. Then, they had to transport the “snow” to the other end of the path.
A balance beam is so great for gross motor skills including coordination and balance. You can start with normal toe to heel steps, and then increase the balance and coordination needed by asking your child to take bigger steps, side steps, backward steps, tip toe, go fast/slow.
Kids can hold an object and transport it from one end of the path to the other. Ask them to hold the item in their hands, on their head, on their toes, or on their back as they bear walk. Objects can be large or small, heavy or light.
Use couch pillows as pretend ice blocks for the polar bears.
Use tongs and a small plastic ice cube to incorporate fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination skills. You can place buckets or bins along the path for obstacles to place the small objects in while challenging core strength, motor planning, and movement changes.
Add buckets or cones along the path for children to step over or hop over. If cones aren’t available, just use couch throw cushions as an obstacle.
Add a big duvet blanket or other large blanket at one end or both ends as a DIY crash pad for heavy work and proprioceptive input. Crawling into and under the heavy blanket offers heavy work, and that blanket makes a great “igloo” for your little polar bear.
Advance the motor planning and core development by asking kids to stand along the path as they try to catch/toss a ball, navigate turns, curves, hop…There is so much you can do with the masking tape balance beam! Add more fine motor skill work by using paper snowflakes along the balance beam.
Use a polar bear sensory bin along the path to challenge kids to transport items from one end of the path and to place them into the sensory bin. This is a fantastic occupational therapy or physical therapy intervention that challenges so many skills.
For more polar bear gross motor activities, (and fine motor work), grab the Winter Fine Motor Kit, with 100 pages of done-for-you therapy activities, including polar bear themes. There are sensory bin materials, crafts, and activities designed to boost fine motor skills. These would be great additions to a polar bear gross motor theme in therapy sessions.
Grab it now before January 9th and you get a bonus of 3 fine motor slide deck activities.
Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20+ years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.