Skipping Activities for Kids

How to teach skipping

Young children often ask to learn to skip. Here, you’ll discover skipping activities for kids, as well as specific strategies to teach children how to skip. Skipping is an important gross motor target. For some children, learning to skip is a real challenge! 

These skipping activities are fun ways to teach kids to skip.

Learn to Skip with Skipping Activities

If you have ever spent time in an elementary school, you may have noticed that the youngest members of the school community, specifically kindergarteners, hardly ever walk from place to place… they skip (and hop, jump, twirl, and gallop, too)!

Skipping is a developmental milestone or marker that generally emerges around age 5, with a range of age 4-6 years.  For many kids, skipping emerges without intervention, just the way reaching, crawling, or walking develops. 

For kids who struggle with gross motor skills and bilateral coordination, direct teaching may be necessary to develop this critical skill.  Once the basics are learned, skipping activities are a great way to practice.

learning to skip requires motor planning and sensory integration

Skipping is such a perfect example of motor planning and sensory integration.  It requires ideation (having the idea about how to move), planning (sequencing the movement), and execution (carrying out the movement).  

For a person to execute the motor plan of skipping, the coordinated effort of sensory systems and the brain is required. 

Skipping also provides excellent sensory input. No wonder kindergarteners like to skip from place to place… the vestibular and proprioceptive input they receive is a natural reward for all their hard work in mastering the skill!

what about bilateral coordination?

The ability to coordinate the two sides of the body involved in learning how to skip requires balance, strength, motor planning, and bilateral coordination. Bilateral coordination refers to the ability of the brain and body to process and integrate information from both sides of the brain to respond with movements in a coordinated manner. 

Many functional tasks and daily activities, such as feeding, dressing, and writing rely on bilateral coordination. 

Being able to coordinate both sides of the body is also a foundation skill for gross motor coordination activities such as walking, running, galloping and skipping.

Wondering how to teach skipping? This blog post breaks down the steps of skipping.

How to Teach Skipping

When you have a goal for a child to learn to skip, it is important to make sure that you address all of the components of skipping.  Teaching kids to skip starts with seeing what skills the individual is able to do. There are skills that are required to skip. Can the child balance on one foot and hop? Does the child have a dominant leg? Can they gallop or perform a different version of skipping? These are all good questions to ask when teaching skipping skills.

First, evaluate and observe the following gross motor skills needed for skipping:

  • Balance – check to make sure they can balance on either foot
  • Hopping – are they able to hop in place on each foot?  Are they able to hop forward on one foot?  Have them try to take 5 hops forward on either foot
  • Leg dominance – it may be helpful to know if they have a preferred leg for activities like hopping or kicking
  • Galloping – are they able to gallop? Can they gallop on either side?  This is more of a unilateral skill, which is often easier for kids who demonstrate difficulty with bilateral coordination skills.

If any of the above skills are weak, start with developing balance and hopping.  Then progress to galloping, followed by skipping. 

Then, use these strategies to teach skipping:

  1. To teach skipping, start by breaking down the steps for the child.  Provide a demonstration and simple verbal cues like “Step, hop, switch”.  You may need to provide a visual cue as well, using colored dots or markers on the floor, such as these (Amazon affiliate link) Little Polly Markers.

2. Once the child is able to complete the “step, hop, switch” sequence. This can be a very slow process at first. Some kids will need to think through the motor plan of each step. That’s ok! Use visual and verbal cues to work on the step with one foot, the hop, and the switch to the other foot.

3. Work to improve their fluency and speed of the step, hop switch sequence. Use these steps in an obstacle course or a relay activity to work on speed and gross motor coordination to improve fluent motor skills.

3. As they master the skill of skipping, you can encourage them to incorporate their upper body into the movement as well. Show them how to swing their arms in coordination with the legs. This will become more fluent and integrated with practice.  

Working on the coordination and motor planning to master learning to skip involves more than just a hop and a skip. Skipping is a complex task, but once you break it down and address underlying skill areas, it becomes easier. 

Skipping Activities

Here are some gross motor coordination games and skipping activities that address bilateral coordination and motor skills:

  • Obstacle courses – set up a simple hopping and jumping obstacle course inside or outside.  Use pool noodles to jump over with two feet, hop in and out of hula hoops, jump over cardboard bricks, etc.  Here is a post about Outdoor Lawn Games with lots of ideas for using backyard toys and equipment to address gross motor coordination skills.
  • This Ultra Dash Game is fun for kids of all ages!  You can set up an obstacle course in various ways and then the kids have to race to match the colors from the wand to the colored base.  You could incorporate skipping, jumping, and hopping into this game to work on those skills in a new way.
  • Use gross motor toys to work on balance, coordination, motor planning, and core strength.
  • Use a long jump rope to hop over on one foot. 
  • Stand like a flamingo. Try freeze dance games with a flamingo theme. When the music stops, players have to hold one leg up like a flamingo!
  • Simon says- Incorporate the hop and jump tasks needed in the task of skipping.
  • Yoga is a great activity to build body awareness, gross motor skills, and bilateral coordination.  Here are several different kids yoga resources:
  • Skip ball– this toy is a fun tool to practice skipping skills
  • Chinese Jump Rope – who remembers this classic toy? Relive your childhood while passing on this great game
  • Mini Trampoline – these are great to work on jumping, hopping, coordination, following directions, all great skills to teach skipping
  • Musical Hippity Hop Stick – this rotating stick encourages children to jump over the stick as it rotates by. If the stick touches them, the game is over. Practice this with two feet first, then try hopping over the stick
  • Hopscotch!  Don’t forget about this one!  All you need is some chalk and a sunny day to get outside and practice hopping and jumping.  This would be a great activity to set up on the playground for kids to work on skipping skills during recess. Not ready for outside play? Use painter’s tape down the hallway.

spring has almost sprung!

With Spring right around the corner, here are some Spring Gross Motor Activities to use with your students in the upcoming weeks to address gross motor coordination skills.

It’s time to get some “Spring” back in our steps!  Bring your kids outside and have some fun working on hopping, jumping, and of course…skipping!

Katherine Cook is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience primarily working in schools with students from preschool through Grade 12.  Katherine graduated from Boston University in 2001 and completed her Master’s degree and Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study at Tufts University in 2010.  Katherine’s school based experience includes working in integrated preschool programs, supporting students in the inclusion setting, as well as program development and providing consultation to students in substantially separate programs.  Katherine has a passion for fostering the play skills of children and supporting their occupations in school. 

Audio Books for Occupational Therapists

audio books for occupational therapists

Today, I’ve got a list of free audiobooks for occupational therapists. These occupational therapy audiobook ideas can be used to develop, learn, and grow as a therapist. These occupational therapy books are audiobooks, making them great tools for learning new skills while on the go.

Therapists are short on time, so occupational therapist audio courses and audiobooks are the way to go when it comes to learning. One of the best things about growing as a professional is the ability to continue to learn. As therapists, we strive to develop in our profession to meet the needs of our ever-changing client list. Reading or listening to books for occupational therapists is just one way to learn and grow professionally.

Here, we’re covering parenting books on Audible, or audio books that OTs can recommend to parents to better understand parenting and child development.

These audiobooks for occupational therapists are great for the travelling OT, or listening to while on a commute to work, covering a variety of areas that can improve your occupational therapy practice, in educating OT clients, advocating for occupational therapy patients, and improving OT practice areas.

Audible Books for Occupational Therapists

Amazon affiliate links are included below.

Amazon has some great mindfulness audiobook resources for parents and professionals available on Audible and other formats. Audiobooks are a great alternative to paper books, as they can be listened to almost anywhere.

There are tons of resources on mindfulness in audiobooks. I tried to find ones that had good reviews, were accurate and easy to read/listen to, and provided useful strategies.

If you are an Amazon Prime member, You’re eligible to claim 2 free titles from our entire selection (one title per month thereafter) with a free Audible 30 day trial. A standard trial includes 1 credit for an audiobook download. After the Audible trial period, all members receive 1 credit per month.

Click here start your free Audible Trial Period.

Recently, I came across a few books on Amazon that are perfect for therapists looking for books to grow and learn in different aspects of occupational therapy.

These are audiobooks that can help OTs grow as a practitioner by staying on tap of hot topics. As therapists, we strive to advocate for our clients, educate parents, teachers, or others on the child’s tribe or team. These are audiobooks for occupational therapists that can help us grow as therapists!


Best of all, they are available as audiobooks for those of us looking for books to listen to while commuting, cooking, or working out!

Free Audio Books for Occupational Therapists

This post contains affiliate links.


Audible is a subset of Amazon and offers free books to members. While the membership does have a fee, there is a free 30 day trial, where books can be listened to anytime and anywhere. 


There’s more: When you sign up for the free trial of Audible, you’ll get two free books. In addition to the 2 Free audiobooks, you’ll also get 2 Free Audible Originals to get you started. 


After your free trial ends, if you do choose to continue with the membership, you’ll get 1 audiobook and 2 Originals per month after trial. You can cancel anytime and keep all your audiobooks. You’ll also get 30% off the price of additional audiobook purchases. 


So, after reading this, I had to check to see what books are available on Amazon’s Audible that would be interesting as an OT. How cool to grab a free audio book on a topic I wanted to learn more about!
 

Parenting Books on Audible

Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children– Written by occupational therapist, Angela J. Hanscom, describes children of today who have more sedentary lifestyles and desperately need outdoor play in order to develop their sensory, motor, and executive functions.

The book describes nature as the ultimate sensory experience, and helps you discover little things you can do anytime, anywhere to help your kids achieve the movement they need to be happy and healthy in mind, body, and spirit.

Sensory Processing Disorder: Not Just a Strong-Willed Child, Book 1– This audiobook is a resource for parents that therapists can recommend for those looking for more information on Sensory Processing Disorder or those striving to empower their child.

By listening to this audiobook, you’ll learn more about what is sensory processing disorder, common behaviors of different types of SPD, differences between SPD and some other look-alike conditions like ADHD, OCD, ODD and anxiety disorder, tips on how to manage SPD at home, school, and community.

Overcoming Dyslexia– This book on dyslexia helps us to understand, identify, and overcome the reading problems that so many kids struggle with in schools. In this audio book, you’ll learn exactly what dyslexia is and how to identify dyslexia in preschoolers, schoolchildren, young adults, and adults.

You’ll discover how to work productively with the teacher of a child with dyslexia or reading challenges. Included are exercises to help children use the parts of the brain that control reading, including a twenty-minute nightly home program to enhance reading. There are also ways to improve a child’s self-esteem and more.

The Smart but Scattered Guide to Success: How to Use Your Brain’s Executive Skills to Keep Up, Stay Calm, and Get Organized at Work and at Home– This audiobook helps the listener identify their executive skills profile and shares effective steps to boost organizational skills, time management, emotional control, and nine other essential skills.

This is a resource for parents and therapists who may be struggling with executive functioning skills or those working with teens or older clients. 

Smart but Scattered Teens: The “Executive Skills” Program for Helping Teens Reach Their Potential– This audiobook describes research-based strategies for promoting teens’ independence by building their executive functioning skills in order to get organized, stay focused, and control impulses and emotions.

Bright Kids Who Can’t Keep Up: Help Your Child Overcome Slow Processing Speed and Succeed in a Fast-Paced World– This audiobook is geared toward those kids who struggle with processing speed in tasks like classwork, homework, caring for themselves, motor tasks, or following directions.

Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew– This audiobook describes 10 characteristics that help illuminate, not define,  children with autism. The book describes and helps listeners  understand the needs and the potential of every child with autism. It’s been said that “Every parent, teacher, social worker, therapist, and physician should have this succinct and informative audiobook in their back pocket”.

1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and Raising Children with Autism or Asperger’s– This book shares tons of tips, strategies, tools, and resources that can be helpful to parents, teachers, and therapists working with kids with autism or Asperger’s syndrome. There are modifications for older kids to help children achieve success at home, in school, and in the community. 

The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum– This book by Dr.  Temple Grandin teaches listeners the science of the autistic brain, and with it the history and sociology of autism.

The Loving Push: How Parents and Professionals Can Help Spectrum Kids Become Successful Adults– This book is described as an essential roadmap for parents, teachers, therapists, and anyone working with the child with autism. Another resource by Dr. Temple Grandin, psychologist and autism specialist Dr. Debra Moore share insight in helping kids  build on their strengths to improve motivation in real life strategies.

What’s Going on in There?: How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life– This book by a research neuroscientist describes how the baby’s brain is formed, and when each sense, skill, and cognitive ability is developed from conception through the first five years.

The book shares development of motor skills, social and emotional behaviors, and mental functions such as attention, language, memory, reasoning, and intelligence. 

The Emotional Life of the Toddler– This audiobook covers the emotional development of kids through the toddler years, with the latest research on this crucial stage of development. This is a great resource for the pediatric OT.

Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child: The Heart of Parenting– Dr. John Gottman shares strategies to teach their children self-awareness and self-control and to foster good emotional development. This audiobook is a resource for parents and those working with families with young children.

Raising Your Spirited Child, Third Edition: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic– This audiobook is the very same as the book that has been voted one of the top 20 parenting books out there. It’s a tool therapists can use to provide parents with the tips and tools they need based on research and practical strategies for raising spirited children. It’s a book for anyone who knows meltdowns, behavior, and spirited kids!

  What are your favorite audiobooks for occupational therapy? You know, those audiobooks you LOVE that advance your practice knowledge, improve your advocacy for OT clients, and help to educate parents or teachers of  occupational therapy clients?

These audiobooks for occupational therapists are great for advancing as an occupational therapist by reading the hot topics in the field, so that you can advocate for OT clients, educate the parents and teachers of kids on an occupational therapy caseload.

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 contact@theottoolbox.com.