Gross Motor Toys

gross motor toys

If you are looking for the best gross motor toys to challenge coordination, balance, motor planning through whole-body movement and heavy work play, then you are in luck with these occupational therapy toys. Each one is designed to develop gross motor skills: strength, coordination, balance, posture, and more.

PLUS, head to the bottom of this blog post for Day 2 of our therapy toy giveaway. We’re giving away a gross motor kit with agility cones, tossing loops, bean bags, and hula hoops, perfect for gross motor, balance, coordination, and even heavy sensory play through whole body movements.

We started off the fun with yesterday’s fine motor toy ideas. Today is all about the gross motor play.

First, let’s talk Gross Motor Toys!

You’ll also want to check out our blog post on Gross Motor Activities for Preschoolers because many of the gross motor toy ideas listed in this post would be great for the preschool years (and beyond!).

Amazon affiliate links are included in this blog post. As an Amazon Influencer, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Gross Motor Toys

Kids need gross motor movement for so many skills. Today, I have gross motor toys to share! Here, you’ll find the best whole body toys and ideas to help kids with balance, core strength, stability, coordination, and endurance. Scroll on to check out some therapist-approved toys that help gross motor skill development!

Gross motor toys to help kids develop skills in running, hopping, jumping, skipping, crawling, and more.

Gross Motor Toy Ideas

This list of toys for gross motor skills pairs well with our recent list of Fine Motor Toys. Today however, you’ll find toys that develop a few areas that are essential to areas of child development:

Bilateral Coordination– Kids need bilateral coordination in whole body movements to move their body in a coordinated way. These whole body movements can include coordination of the upper and lower body, or both arms, or both feet, and all of the above! Here are bilateral coordination toys to address this specific area.

Motor Planning– Motor planning with the whole body allows children to move in a room without crashing into objects or other people. Gross motor motor planning allows children to climb steps, navigate obstacles, or any movement-based task. Here is more information on motor planning and motor planning toys to address this specific sub-area.

Gross motor coordinationCoordination of gross motor skills is needed for tasks such as kicking or catching a ball, riding a bike, getting dressed, or any task that uses the entire body. Here are hand eye coordination toys to address this particular sub-area.

Proprioception– Integration of proprioceptive input allows children to know where their body is in space. It tells the body how much effort is needed to pick up and move objects. Proprioception allows us to understand the body’s position as it moves in a coordinated manner.

Vestibular input- Integration of vestibular input allows children to navigate the world around them as they move. Going up or down steps or bleachers is an example of this. Moving into different positions during tasks is another example of vestibular integration. Movement through different planes requires integration of vestibular input.

All of these areas work together in functional tasks and all are rooted in gross motor skills.

Related: This dinosaur gross motor game is a skill builder, as well.

Toys for Gross Motor Skill Development

So often, therapists and teachers purchase items to use in their work using their own money. This giveaway offers a chance for you to win an item that will be useful in helping kids thrive.

And, given that kids are on screens more than ever before with all of the virtual learning and hybrid learning models being incorporated all over the world, therapists are seeing more need for active, physical play.

These are gross motor toys that you will find in therapy clinics. There is a reason why…because they are gross motor powerhouses! So, if you are looking for toy recommendations that build whole body motor skills, this is it!

Amazon affiliate links are included below. You can read more about these items by checking out the links.

Zoom ball is a great gross motor toy for kids.

Zoom Ball– This classic toy is such a great way to work on many skills. A zoom ball can be used in different positions to challenge balance and vestibular input. Try using the zoom ball games in sitting, standing, kneeling, standing on couch cushions, a slant…again, the options are limitless! Address skills such as:

  • Bilateral coordination
  • Core strength
  • Shoulder stability
  • Visual convergence
  • Motor planning
  • Coordination
Pop and catch toys can help kids develop gross motor skills.

Pop and Catch- Use this coordination toy indoors or outdoors to get kids moving. This toy can be played with while the child is standing, sitting, kneeling, or in a half-sit to challenge the core and eye-hand coordination in a variety of planes. Try playing on all fours on the floor for a shoulder girdle stability activity. Another use for this toy is by playing by standing at a table while the child shoots the ball across the table surface as they play like a ping-pong type of game. There are many uses for this pop and catch activity:

  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Motor planning
  • Vestibular input
  • Core strength
  • Stability of core
  • Stability of shoulder girdle
use bucket stilts to help kids develop gross motor skills.

Bucket Stilts– These bucket stilts are perfect for helping kids develop gross motor skills. I love this set because there are 6 colored buckets that make a great gross motor obstacle course tool, too. You could use them as stepping stones to challenge balance and coordination, too. Here are gross motor skills that you can work on using these bucket stilts toys:

  • Core strength
  • Vestibular input
  • Motor planning
  • Coordination
  • Balance
  • Endurance
  • Stabilizing
use agility cones to help kids build gross motor skills in obstacle courses and more.

Agility Cones– Sports cones are such an open-ended gross motor toy that can be used to develop so many skills: hopping, jumping, skipping, running, climbing, crawling…the options are endless. Use these agility cones in therapy obstacle courses, challenges, drills, and more. I chose these particular cones because they can go very nicely with a Zones of Regulation activity! Use cones to support these areas:

  • Motor planning
  • Vestibular input
  • Coordination
  • Core strength
  • Endurance
Use carpet markers to build gross motor skills with gross motor obstacle courses, motor planning, and more.

Carpet Markers– These carpet markers are an occupational therapist’s dream toy! Use the colored marker spots to help kids work on so many movement skills in obstacle courses, visual perceptual skill activities, direction following, sensory movement breaks, positioning guides, and so much more. The arrows are perfect for addressing directionality. Use them to work on crawling, hopping, jumping, stopping on a point. Just some of the areas that these carpet spots support:

  • Core strength
  • Shoulder stability
  • Motor planning
  • Coordination
  • Endurance
  • Proprioception
A parachute is a great gross motor toy for kids.

Parachute– A parachute is another open-ended gross motor toy that the kids just LOVE. This one is small enough for small groups, but builds motor skills in a big way. Use the parachute to help kids develop:

  • Core stability
  • Arm strength
  • Motor planning
  • Endurance
  • Bilateral coordination
  • Proprioceptive input

Toys for Core Strength

Toys that develop core strength get kids moving in a variety of positions. These toys support and challenge the vestibular and proprioceptive systems so they can be calming activities as well. Strength and stability in the core is needed for almost all functional tasks. Challenge kids with these core strengthening toys by getting them moving, on the floor in floor play or strengthening the core muscles through movement and balance coordination. Some ideas for developing and strengthening core strength include:

Toys for balance

Toys that challenge movement changes, stepping from high to low and low to high, and movement with vestibular input offer opportunities to challenge and develop balance and coordination skills.

Gross Motor Coordination Toys

Encourage movement, whole body play, and gross motor coordination with throwing, tossing, and hand-eye coordination or foot-eye coordination skills with these gross motor coordination ideas:

Obstacle Course Toys

All of the gross motor toys listed above could be used in obstacle courses…and what a great way to encourage so many skills! These are perfect additions to your obstacle course ideas, and challenge balance, coordination, motor planning, and add sensory input. Use these obstacle course toys to vary movement and encourage the specific skills kids need:

Want to add these toys to your home, classroom, or therapy practice? I am SO happy to fill your toolbox so you can help kids thrive and build and develop the skills they need!

More therapy Toys

Check out the other therapy toy recommendations in the list below:

  1. Fine Motor Toys
  2. Gross Motor Toys
  3. Pencil Grasp Toys
  4. Toys for Reluctant Writers
  5. Toys for Spatial Awareness
  6. Toys for Visual Tracking
  7. Toys for Sensory Play
  8. Bilateral Coordination Toys
  9. Games for Executive Functioning Skills
  10. Toys and Tools to Improve Visual Perception 
  11. Toys to Help with Scissors Skills 
  12. Toys for Attention and Focus 


Want a printable copy of our therapist-recommended toys to support gross motor development?

As therapy professionals, we LOVE to recommend therapy toys that build skills! This toy list is done for you so you don’t need to recreate the wheel.

Your therapy caseload will love these GROSS MOTOR toy recommendations. (There’s space on this handout for you to write in your own toy suggestions, to meet the client’s individual needs, too!)

Enter your email address into the form below. The OT Toolbox Member’s Club Members can access this handout inside the dashboard, under Educational Handouts. Just be sure to log into your account, first!

Image of turtle stepping stones toy with text reading "gross motor toy giveaway"

Gross Motor Toy Giveaway

Want to enter our Therapy Toys and Tools Giveaway for a chance to win a gross motor toy? Enter your email address into the form below. You’ll also get a free printable list of gross motor toys.

Today’s toy is a (Amazon affiliate link) Stepping Stones Turtle balance set. These Turtle Stepping Stones are great for targeting gross motor skills, as well coordination and balance, motor planning, muscle tone, body awareness, and MORE! This easily adaptable toy set gets kids running, walking, jumping, etc. to further develop their crucial gross motor skills. They could certainly be used as an engaging step in an obstacle course and this specific set even comes with activity cards which transforms the stepping stones into a game that can be played with multiple children! When you’re done using them, they come with a durable bag to make it easy to store and travel with!

This giveaway runs from 11-25-23 through 12-5-23. A winner will be chosen on 12-6-2023.

Gross Motor Toy Giveaway

    We won’t send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

    Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

    Enter all the giveaways here:

    Check out the blog comments below to see tips and ideas from readers telling us which gross motor toys they would love to use with the kids they work with and love. Have other gross motor favorites that aren’t listed here? Tell us about them!

    Dinosaur Game Kids Love

    dinosaur game spinner and toy dinosaurs on white background with text that says "dinosaur gross motor game"

    If you have kids, you probably have heard of the dinosaur game on Google where a click of a button sends a T-Rex running across the screen. However, we have a dinosaur game that challenged active movement, balance, and gross motor skills. This dinosaur game is a huge hit among kids. It’s a movement-based dinosaur activity that kids of all ages love. If you are looking for creative dinosaur games to use in therapy, at home, or in the classroom, then be sure to add this dinosaur game for kids to your list!

    dinosaur game spinner and toy dinosaurs on white background with text that says "dinosaur gross motor game"

    Use the dinosaur game below along with these dinosaur exercises and other dinosaur themed activities in therapy sessions. You can even incorporate handwriting and visual motor skills into dinosaur games with this printable dinosaur visual perception worksheet.

    Dinosaur game

    As an Amazon Influencer, I earn from qualifying purchases.

    Dinosaur Game

    The dinosaur game described below is an older blog post here on the website, but it’s a gross motor activity that is well-loved for many reasons.

    There is just something about the stomping and roaring of a dinosaur game that takes me back to my own kids at their preschool ages! This is an older post here on The OT Toolbox, but one that is one of my absolute favorites.

    This dinosaur game is great for kids who love dinosaurs!

    We read the dinosaur book, Dinosaurumpus by Tony Mitton…and created a fun dino game that the kids loved! Our dinosaur movement game inspired tons of giggles and wiggles as we moved our way through this book with a gross motor activity!  

    The gross motor coordination tasks and motor planning skills make this dinosaur game the perfect addition to dinosaur physical therapy and dinosaur occupational therapy themes.

    When kids play this dinosaur movement game, they build skills in areas such as:

    The specific activities in the game allow kids to develop skills such as hopping, jumping, twisting, stomping, and other gross motor tasks.

    How to Play the Dinosaur Game:

    We’ve included Amazon affiliate links in this post for the book and items you’ll need to create the DIY Dinosaur game.    

    Have you read the book, Dinosaurumpus!?  (affiliate link) This is a book that is sure to get the kids moving with it’s loud and active rhymes as the dinosaurs dance an irresistible romp. 

    Using this book and the game you’ll find here together is a great dinosaur game for toddlers and preschoolers to address listening skills, comprehension, and regulation through movement and play.

    My kids couldn’t help but move and groove as I read them the story.  We had to make a movement gross motor game to go along with the book!  

    We talked about the fact that dinosaurs have big feet and big bodies that sometimes move too fast in the space around them.

    This is a great lesson on body awareness that kids can relate to while developing balance and motor planning skills!


    Dinosaur movement game for kids. This gross motor game is based on Dinosaurumpus the book and is a great activity for auditory and visual recall in kids.

     How to make the Dinosaur Game

    You’ll need just a few items to prepare the dino game for use in therapy or at home:

    • Dinosaur printable below
    • Cardstock or cardboard
    • Brad to attach the spinner
    • Mini dinosaur figures

    To make the spinner for the dinosaur game:

    1. Make this game easily using our free printable for the game board. We listed out the dinosaurs in the book and the actions they did.    
    2. These went onto a game spinner that I made on  card stock. (affiliate link)
    3. We used dinosaur figures for part of our movement game.  These ones (affiliate link) are a great deal!  
    Free dinosaur game printable

    Dinosaur Game Printable

    To play the dinosaur movement game:

    This is a dinosaur movement activity for preschool and older aged kids. Use in in the classroom or home as part of a story and reading activity, or use it as a dinosaur brain break in the classroom. 

    First print out the free printable.  You’ll also want the game rules for easy play and the spinner piece.  

    1. Print your printable on card stock (affiliate link) OR you can use regular printer paper for the game board, but the arrow won’t spin as well. You may want to print the game spinner on paper and then glue to cardboard for more sturdiness during (active) play. Make your game board and ensure the arrow spins using a brass fastener (affiliate link).
    2. One player hides the dinosaur figures (affiliate link) around the room or outdoor play area.  
    3. The first player spins the arrow and reads the action.  He or she then races off to find one of the hidden dinosaurs.  
    4. When she finds a dinosaur, she races back and performs the action.  

    Hide dinosaur figurines and use them in the dinosaur game for preschoolers and toddlers to develop motor skills.

    There will be shakes, stomps, jumps, and TONS of giggles with this gross motor activity!   

    We loved this game activity for it’s gross motor action.  It would be a great activity for rainy day fun or indoor play when the kids need to get the wiggles out.  Racing off and remembering the action they must perform requires a child to recall auditory and visual information necessary for so many functional skills.  

    Dinosaur game rules for kids
    Kids can spin the wheel on the dinosaur game to build gross motor skills.

      We hid the dinosaurs in all sorts of fun spaces in the house.  

    Spin the wheel on the dinosaur game to support fine motor skills.
    Spin the wheel on the dinosaur game to support fine motor skill development, too.

    The dinosaurs in the book, Dinosaurumpus! (affiliate link) move a lot!  Get ready for stomping, shaking, diving, dancing, running, jumping, twisting, and spinning!  

    Move like a dinosaur with this dinosaur game for kids

    My kids love any kind of scavenger hunt game and this one, with its movement portion, was a HUGE hit!

    Dinosaur gross motor movement game based on the book, Dinosaurumpus!

     Gross motor skills are important to develop through play.  It’s essential for attention and focus to build core body strength.    

    More Gross Motor Games

    Looking for more ways to work on gross motor skills like core strength and proximal stability for improved attention and distal mobility?

    Some more of our favorite gross motor activities that you will love:  


    If you are looking for more dinosaur activities for kids, be sure to check out our Dinosaur Jacks activity to promote more motor skills, and our Dinosaur visual perception worksheet to work on visual perceptual skills.

    Dinosaur game for kids that is a great preschool dinosaur activity for gross motor skills.

    dinosaur gross motor activities

    Want to use our dinosaur games in your therapy sessions with a dinosaur theme? We’ve pulled together a few dinosaur gross motor activities that you can use to target gross motor skills and development of skills.

    Here are some dinosaur-themed gross motor activities that kids will love…In The Member’s Club, you’ll find a dinosaur therapy theme, with printable handouts, worksheets, crafts, and writing pages. Use them along with these ideas!

    1. Dinosaur Stomp: Have children pretend to be dinosaurs and stomp around like mighty T-rexes or long-necked sauropods. They can make dinosaur noises and use their arms and legs to imitate the movements of different types of dinosaurs.
    2. Dino Obstacle Course: Set up an obstacle course with dinosaur-themed challenges. Children can crawl under “dinosaur caves” (tables or chairs), jump over “lava pits” (hula hoops or cushions), and navigate through “swamps” (pools of pillows or cushions).
    3. Fossil Hunt: Hide dinosaur-themed toys or fossil replicas around a designated area. Children can search for the fossils, using their gross motor skills to move around, crawl, and reach for hidden treasures.
    4. Dino Dance Party: Play lively dinosaur-themed music and encourage children to dance and move their bodies like dinosaurs. They can stomp, sway, and wiggle to the rhythm, pretending to be different types of dinosaurs.
    5. Dino Relay Race: Divide children into teams and set up a relay race. Each team member can carry a toy dinosaur or a picture of a dinosaur as they run or hop from one point to another, passing the dinosaur to the next teammate.
    6. Dinosaur Yoga: Incorporate dinosaur-themed yoga poses into a session. Children can try poses like “T-rex stretch” (standing with arms extended out like T-rex arms), “Dino Egg” (curling up into a ball on the floor), or “Stegosaurus Balance” (standing on one foot with arms extended out for balance).
    7. Dino Limbo: Set up a limbo stick or a dinosaur-themed rope and have children take turns bending backward to go under it, pretending to be dinosaurs crouching or ducking under obstacles.
    8. Dino Footprints: Place large cutouts or drawings of dinosaur footprints on the floor. Children can follow the footprints, jumping from one to another, and imitating the movements of different types of dinosaurs.
    9. Dino Toss: Set up targets with dinosaur pictures or cutouts and have children throw soft dinosaur toys or bean bags at the targets, aiming for accuracy and coordination.
    10. Dino Parade: Lead a dinosaur parade where children can march or walk around, following a designated path, while carrying or wearing dinosaur-themed props or costumes.

    We wanted to touch on the skills that you can develop by playing a version of this dinosaur game, depending on the individual needs of the child you are working with in therapy sessions, or at home.

    Dinosaurs have captivated the imagination of children and adults alike for generations…and many kids are fascinated by dinos of all types! That’s what makes this dinosaur therapy game a hit. You can develop specific skills with a fun dinosaur activity.

    Let’s take a look at how you can target enhancement of gross motor skills, balance, visual scanning, endurance, and coordination.

    Our featured dinosaur game provides an immersive experience that not only thrills young players but also becomes a valuable tool in the hands of therapists. Let’s delve into the therapeutic benefits it brings to the table.

    Dinosarur game Gross Motor Skills

    In the world of dinosaurs, movement is key. Players are prompted to engage in activities that encourage reaching, stretching, and crawling, promoting the development of essential gross motor skills.

    These movements are fundamental for a child’s overall physical development, making the game a dynamic tool for therapists targeting this aspect.

    Mastering Balance

    Surviving in the dinosaur era requires a keen sense of balance, right? Kids can play this dinosaur game and challenge skills like balancing on one foot, staying in one position, freeze dancing, and balancing on their tip toes.

    The game incorporates elements that challenge players to maintain equilibrium, fostering the improvement of balance skills.

    Therapists can leverage these challenges to enhance a child’s ability to control their body’s position, a skill crucial for everyday activities.

    Work on grading skills and challenging balance development by targeting more difficult tasks like:

    1. Single Leg Stance:
      • Description: Standing on one foot.
      • Purpose: Enhances static balance and weight-bearing control.
    2. Tree Pose:
      • Description: A yoga pose involving standing on one leg with the other foot resting on the inner thigh of the supporting leg.
      • Purpose: Challenges static balance and encourages weight shifting and offers proprioceptive input.
    3. Tip-Toe Standing:
      • Description: Rising onto the balls of the feet.
      • Purpose: Strengthens the muscles in the lower extremities and promotes ankle stability during daily activities.
    4. Half Kneel Position:
      • Description: Kneeling on one knee while keeping the other foot flat on the ground.
      • Purpose: Improves dynamic stability and challenges core strength during functional tasks.
    5. Squats:
      • Description: Bending the knees and lowering the body as if sitting back into a chair.
      • Purpose: Targets lower body strength and stability to build base of support and stability during functional mobility.

    These activities are tailored to address different aspects of balance and can be adapted based on individual needs and progress. When implementing these exercises, it’s crucial to consider the client’s abilities and gradually progress the difficulty of the activities as their balance improves.

    Enhance Visual Scanning

    Dinosaurs are not always easy to spot when it comes to pre-historic land! But dinos aren’t the only ones that need to scan their environment.

    Visual scanning skills impact learning, reading, social and emotional skills, and practically everything we do throughout our day.

    This dinosaur activity supports the development of visual scanning skills as players to search for items, dinosaurs, or clues.

    This element contributes significantly to the development of visual attention and scanning skills, addressing therapeutic goals for children with specific needs in this area.

    Endurance Skills with Dinosaur theme

    Roaming the prehistoric landscape demands stamina just like a T-Rex or Brontosaurus. Certain activities within the game encourage continuous physical activity, contributing to the development of endurance.

    This aspect is particularly beneficial for children undergoing endurance training, aligning the game with therapeutic goals for enhanced stamina and managing deferent surfaces.

    Try adding an unstable surface during the dinosaur game tasks:

    Here are other balance beam ideas to incorporate.

    Dinosaur Coordination Skills

    Navigating the dinosaur world requires precision. The game’s mechanics challenge players with obstacles and control requirements, promoting precise movements and coordination.

    Therapists can use these aspects to target coordination skills, crucial for a child’s ability to execute controlled and purposeful movements.

    In conclusion, our dinosaur game transcends the realms of entertainment to become a valuable therapeutic tool. By incorporating elements that support the development of gross motor skills, balance, visual scanning, endurance, and coordination, therapists can harness the excitement of dinosaurs to achieve therapeutic goals.

    Free Dinosaur Game Printable

    Want to play this dino game with kids you work with in therapy or in the classroom? Print off the game pieces using the free printable. Simply enter your email address into the form below to access.

    Want to add this resource to your therapy toolbox so you can help kids thrive? Enter your email into the form below to access this printable tool.

    This resource is just one of the many tools available in The OT Toolbox Member’s Club. Each month, members get instant access to downloadable activities, handouts, worksheets, and printable tools to support development. Members can log into their dashboard and access all of our free downloads in one place. Plus, you’ll find exclusive materials and premium level materials.

    Level 1 members gain instant access to all of the downloads available on the site, without enter your email each time PLUS exclusive new resources each month.

    Level 2 members get access to all of our downloads, exclusive new resources each month, PLUS additional, premium content each month: therapy kits, screening tools, games, therapy packets, and much more. AND, level 2 members get ad-free content across the entire OT Toolbox website.

    Join the Member’s Club today!

    Free Dinosaur Game

      We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

      Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

      Indoor Balance Beam Ideas for a Rainy Day

      DIY balance beams

      Some of our favorite ways to work on gross motor skills are with a simple balance beam, and having indoor balance beam ideas on hand is key to throwing together a therapy plan or movement activity on the go. With the start of cooler weather, the kids may not get a chance to be outdoors so this is when gross motor coordination tasks is a must for self-regulation and movement needs. 

      As an Amazon Influencer, I earn from qualifying purchases.

      We have many balance activities here on The OT Toolbox, and one of our favorites is a DIY balance beam that targets interests to making things meaningful and motivating through play.

      You’ll also want to check out our outdoor balance beam ideas for more information and inspiration.

      However, sometimes, it’s impossible to get outside when the weather is rainy.  Other times, kids need a break from very hot temperatures.  It’s a great idea to work those core muscles as well as balance with sensory vestibular input through play with balance beam play weather the kids are playing indoors or out. These ideas would work for rainy indoor days, too!

      You’ll want to check out our blog post on crossing midline for preschoolers because the balance beam can be a tool for supporting sensory motor needs and abilities such as maneuvering over a balance beam.

      Indoor Balance Beam Ideas

      Kids love balance beams!  There is a good reason to promote them, too. Balance, core strength, and bilateral coordination are all addressed with just a simple balance beam.  You can find out more about these areas in our How Balance Beams Help Kids.

      One thing to be aware of is how balance develops. For younger children a balance beam may be more difficult than it is beneficial in building strength or coordination.

      If you are looking for more information on how core strength helps with attention in kids, read this Core Strength and Attention activity that we did previously.

      Related, this Brain Gym Bilateral Coordination activity is a great way to get both sides of the body moving in a coordinated manner through play. 

      Balance beams are a great activity for preschool because of the development happening at this age. You can start with a floor balance beam and then move on to a raised beam. A 2×4 wooden beam is all it takes. Read about indoor gross motor activities for preschool for more ideas and information.

      Indoor balance beam ideas for a rainy day


      Indoor Balance Beam Ideas for a Rainy Day

      Indoor balance beams are a great way to encourage vestibular and proprioceptive movement through play and gross motor work. 

      This post contains affiliate links. 

      Cut paper or cardboard into shapes. You could also use pieces of contact paper that sticks to the floor or shelf liner paper so the targets won’t slip when stepped on.

      Kids can cut out these shapes and tape them to the floor to create an indoor balance beam on a rainy day.  

      Some of these ideas would work:

      Another idea is to use the theme of a playground balance beam in an indoor setting. Our playground balance beam therapy slide deck does just that and it’s great for indoor play or in a virtual therapy setting, too.

      Rainy day ideas including indoor balance beams for kids

      Let’s take a look at some DIY balance beams…these are great indoor balance beam ideas!

      Some of our favorite DIY balance beams use items found around the home.

      DIY balance beam ideas

      There are so many DIY balance beam ideas that you can use indoors or even outdoors.

      One tip is to consider the space between steps that a child has to make. You can move the surface that they are walking on closer together or further apart.

      Mix up the surfaces. Use pillows or foam mixed with hard surfaces like cardboard or a wooden board.

      Encourage students to bend, crouch, or swing their feet along the side of the balance beam to encourage the user to challenge more balance and gross motor work.

      • Make a DIY balance beam using foam cutouts like these flowers.
      • Stick painters’ tape to the floor in a balance beam, using zig zag lines.
      • Rope balance beam- Use a jump rope on the floor. Balance along the jump rope. You can also use thread, twine, yarn, or other forms of string.
      • Paper plates- Tape them down so they don’t slide, or use them on a carpet for a sliding balance beam challenge!
      • Pillow Balance Beam- Place a line of pillows across the floor. You can easily grade this by using bigger pillows or smaller pillows. Even couch cushions would work.
      • Use a Sheet- Make a path using a sheet for a wide balance beam. Fold a bed sheet into a long strip and use to to walk across the floor.
      • Roll up a blanket or sheet as a balance beam like this Gross Motor Apple Tree Balance Beam.
      • Use a 2 by 4 piece of wood. You can place this right on the ground for a low DIY balance beam, or raise it up by using two other small pieces of wood.
      • Make a chalk balance beam outside on the driveway or on the sidewalk. Here are more ideas for an outdoor sensory diet using a driveway.
      • Get creative and make a Wikki Stix obstacle course like we did with our wikki stix race car path. While this is not the traditional balance beam, it is a huge skill-builder because crawling on the floor on all fours or on three points (two knees and one arm as the child pushes a car along a path) develops core strength and stability.
      • Pool Noodle Balance Beam:
        1. Cut pool noodles in half lengthwise.
        2. Place the pool noodle halves in a straight line on the ground.
        3. Duct tape them together to form a stable balance beam.
      • Cardboard Box Balance Beam:
        1. Cut cardboard boxes into strips or squares.
        2. Tape the cardboard pieces together to make a path along the floor.
      balance beam toys

      Balance beam toys are another way to develop core strength, stability, and balance, and they can be graded to meet the needs of each child.

      Balance Beam Toys

      Other balance beam toys are out there on the market, that are inexpensive tools for developing balance, coordination, visual convergence, body scheme, crossing midline, and more.

      These skills can be challenged by changing the balance surface, encouraging stepping down and up from the balance beam toy, or using a variety of different balancing toys in a series.

      Occupational therapy obstacle courses do this really well.

      As an Amazon Influencer, I earn from qualifying purchases. The links below are Amazon affiliate links.

      • This Folding Beam (affiliate link) is great for storage concerns. Add creative balance beam activities like transferring items from a bucket at one end to a bucket at the other end.
      • Balance Pods (affiliate link) can be positioned in any room or activity. Encourage big and little steps by spacing them closely and further apart.
      • Stepping Buckets Balance (affiliate link) challenge motor planning. Place obstacles in between the buckets for more visual tracking while working on vestibular sensory integration.
      • The BSN Gymnastics Curve-A-Beam (affiliate link) can be reconfigured in many patterns and directions.
      • Gonge Riverstones (affiliate link) are a great challenge to the vestibular system with various sloped sides.
      • Connected Balance Beams– (affiliate link) This balance beam toy encourages different balance motor plans, including stepping across an open space.
      • Balance Pods (affiliate link) can be used in many different ways. Position them close together to make a beam, or space them apart to challenge the child with a more difficult balance path.

      Looking for more ways to move and play indoors?  Try these ideas:

      Indoor Tee Pee

      3 Ingredient Kinetic Sand

      Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

      Tracing Letters with Chalk

      tracing letters with chalk

      Have you heard of rainbow writing? How about chalk rainbow writing? There are many fine motor and visual motor skills that are used when using rainbow writing as a handwriting practice strategy! Let’s break down what rainbow writing is and how this chalk writing activity is a skill-builder for letter formation. Also check out our handwriting library for more ideas.

      tracing letters with chalk

      Tracing letters with chalk is a handwriting practice strategy that helps to build muscle memory when learning letter formations. You can rainbow write on paper or with different utensils such as crayons, colored pencils, markers, or chalk!

      Tracing Letters with Chalk

      Tracing letters with chalk is a colorful way to practice letter formation. The strategy builds skills in visual motor and hand eye coordination in order to trace over the lines of a letter.

      When you use chalk tracing to practice a letter or a word, the child traces over the letter with each color of the rainbow.

      They will end up with 6 or 7 trials in writing over the letter.

      Some things to consider with tracing with chalk

      Tracing over letters with chalk, crayons, or colored pencils is a powerful strategy when practicing letter formation and the line awareness needed for letter size and line placement.

      Read through this resource on tracing sheets to see the pros and cons of tracing with kids.

      Some things you’ll want to consider about chalk tracing writing activities:

      • Be sure to watch how the student starts the letters. It can be easy to start a poor muscle memory for writing the letters if they start at the wrong starting point or form the letters incorrectly. This creates an incorrect motor plan in the handwriting process.
      • Make sure the letters don’t progressively get worse as the student traces over the letters when rainbow writing.
      • Some kids tend to make the rainbow letters with colors next to each other like a rainbow rather than tracing on top of each color. Ask the student to make a mixed up rainbow by tracing right on top of each color.

      Rainbow Writing with chalk

      We did rainbow writing with chalk one day. This was a great way to work on letter formation while outside because there was the added benefit of playing on the ground.

      Using chalk to practice letters supports development by adding proprioceptive input through the core, strengthens the shoulder girdle for adding more stability for writing, as well as adding strength and stability to the wrist. It’s also a great way to focus on wrist range of motion exercises in a fun way.

      Upper body strength in this way supports distal finger dexterity and mobility needed for writing.

      Chalk Rainbow Writing

      This chalk tracing activity was a lot of fun.

      We have a big ol’ bucket of chalk that we play with almost everyday.  Our sidewalk and driveway have been know to be very colorful at times!  We took the chalk to our sidewalk squares one day this week and practiced a little letter formation.

      Our sidewalk squares were the perfect area to practice forming letters accurately.  I used simple verbal cues to describe the formation of each letter (big line down, little curve around, little line) and we started in the corner of each square as we made the letters. 

      I made the letter first and Big Sister and Little Guy watched.  Then we went to work making our letters very colorful!

      Tracing the letters over and over again was a great way to practice accurate formation.  Big Sister got into this activity.  Little Guy only wanted to make a few letters that are in his name.

      When the child is tracing the letters over and over again, they become more efficient at planning out and executing the movements needed to make a letter accurately.  This activity is great for a new writer because they are given a confined space to practice a letter, and visual cues (and verbal prompts from mom).



      Use the activities and ideas in The Handwriting Book for more ways to work on writing skills.

      The Handwriting Book is a comprehensive resource created by experienced pediatric OTs and PTs.

      The Handwriting Book covers everything you need to know about handwriting, guided by development and focused on function. This digital resource is is the ultimate resource for tips, strategies, suggestions, and information to support handwriting development in kids.

      The Handwriting Book breaks down the functional skill of handwriting into developmental areas. These include developmental progression of pre-writing strokes, fine motor skills, gross motor development, sensory considerations, and visual perceptual skills. Each section includes strategies and tips to improve these underlying areas.

      • Strategies to address letter and number formation and reversals
      • Ideas for combining handwriting and play
      • Activities to practice handwriting skills at home
      • Tips and strategies for the reluctant writer
      • Tips to improve pencil grip
      • Tips for sizing, spacing, and alignment with overall improved legibility

      Click here to grab your copy of The Handwriting Book today.

      Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

      Farm Brain Breaks

      farm brain breaks

      Today we have a fun addition to our brain break collection here at The OT Toolbox: Farm Brain Breaks! Brain breaks are such a useful tool for boosting attention and focus in the classroom. This is just one of the farm activities that we love as a therapy tool for building skills in kids. So, check out the Farm Brain Break activities below, along with the fun ways to use these movement activities in farm obstacle courses, farm stations, and more!

      As an Amazon Influencer, I earn from qualifying purchases.

      farm brain breaks

      Farm Brain Breaks

      We love this printable set of farm themed brain breaks because a farm theme is great for this time of year. Kids LOVE cows, chicken, roosters, pigs, and so adding a twist to the regular brain break activities makes the skill-building fun and engaging.

      You can probably think of a dozen or more animal walks, but having a set of farm animal brain breaks all in one place is perfect as a therapy tool for supporting self-regulation and heavy work needs.

      Why Farm Brain Breaks?

      Here’s the thing: Taking a sensory-based movement break in between learning tasks is a great way to help kids with sensory needs and without re-group and attend to classroom work.  

      Brain breaks are a great gross motor coordination activity, too. For the child that needs to work on skills such as the ones listed below, these farm gross motor activities do the job!

      • Balance
      • Standing on one foot
      • Hopping
      • Skipping
      • Squatting and standing back up
      • Building core strength
      • Balance in a dynamic position

      This month in the Virtual Book Club for Kids series, we read the fun book, Little Blue Truck and created farm animal themed brain breaks that are perfect for movement and sensory needs like vestibular activities in the classroom.

      Sometimes creative movement can be just the movement and gross motor exercise that kids can use as a sensory tool for effectively addressing needs in the classroom.  

      Brain Breaks use vestibular and proprioceptive input to address the sensory needs that can help kids with their attention and focus during classroom tasks. This can also support body awareness.

      Kids that need to boost their level of alertness with fast movements.  Those kids that seem to droop and lose attention during classroom work may benefit from a vestibular sensory movement activity that uses the whole body.

      Children that need to calm their body’s movements and regulate their sensory system may benefit from slow, rocking movements using the vestibular sensory system or heavy work gross motor activities that utilize the body’s proprioception system.  


      farm brain breaks


      Little Blue Truck and farm themed brain breaks for attention, focus and sensory needs in the classroom based on farm animals.



      Little Blue Truck Farm Themed Brain Breaks

      We came up with the brain break ideas in our farm theme based on the book, Little Blue Truck. This is a fun way to explore books in occupational therapy sessions to keep things fun and engaging.

      This post contains affiliate links.

      With the animals in Little Blue Truck (affiliate link), we focused on the farm animals and how they move and work to help our friend, the little blue truck.  There are many ways that kids can use the typical movements of farm animals to address sensory and attention needs in the classroom.


       Little Blue Truck book activity

      In the book, Little Blue Truck (affiliate link), we meet each of the farm animals that say a friendly “hello” to the little blue truck.  When he ends up stuck in the mud, the animals are the one that come to help their truck friend.  

      This book is such a fun way to look at the way friends can work together in small ways to help make big things happen.  What a great way to look at the way the class works together to make changes.  

      A group of classroom students that each do their part to pay attention and focus can make the whole classroom a better place. 

      We decided to use the movements of the animals in Little Blue Truck (affiliate link) to create gross motor, movement-based brain breaks.  These are activities that can be done in conjunction with the book and used all year long for attention and focus in the classroom.

      Little Blue Truck and farm themed brain breaks for attention, focus and sensory needs in the classroom based on farm animals.

      How to use Farm themed Brain Breaks

      Print off your brain break printable sheet.  The form is at the bottom of this blog post. Simply enter your email address and the printable will arrive in your inbox.

      Then, cut out the cards and start to play! These animal brain break cards can be used to add movement within the classroom.  They can be used at home or in therapy sessions. We love to use these along with other farm activities and crafts.

      Some fun ways to use these farm brain breaks are below:

      Farm Obstacle Course

      One way to support gross motor skills is with a Farm obstacle course:

      1. Place the farm brain break cards in an obstacle course. 
      2. Ask the child to go through the course by crawling as they push a tractor or pretend to be a tractor, doing animal walks, or moving on a floor scooter.
      3. When they get to a brain break, they should stand up and complete the brain break action. 
      4. They can then move onto the next activity.

      Farm Stations

      Set up stations around the room using the farm brain break cards. Here’s what this entails:

      1. Place the brain break activities in various places around the room. These will be the farm stations.
      2. The child can go to the first farm station and pick up the brain break card. They can collect a small farm animal figure in their hand.
      3. Ask them to copy the name of the animal onto paper.
      4. Then they should complete the gross motor farm animal action.
      5. If it’s an animal walk, they can use that farm animal walk to move to the next station. 
      6. Ask them to take the animal figure with them to encourage in hand manipulation as they collect more and more animal figures.
      7. At the end of all of the farm stations, the child can then place the animal figures into play dough like we did in our farm play dough sensory bin.

      Farm Writing Prompts

      Use the brain breaks as a warm up for handwriting. 

      1. Select one of the farm brain break cards. 
      2. Then ask the child to follow the directions to complete the brain break action.
      3. Next, use that card as a farm writing prompt. They can write a sentence or two about the animal such as their favorite thing about that animal, the role it plays on a farm, etc.
      4. Or grade the activity down by simply asking the child to write the name of the animal as the farm writing prompt.

      Little Blue Truck Activities

      Use these brain break activities based on the animals in the book (Amazon affiliate links) Little Blue Truck (affiliate link):

      Little Blue Truck book activity with gross motor movement brain breaks based on animal movements.

      Cow Walk: Stand on you hands and knees.  Walk across the room while shaking your head from side to side and up and down like eating grass.

      Sheep Crawl: Lie on the floor with your feet and arms tucked under you.  Inch yourself forward in a slow and steady crawl.

      Frog Hop: Hop like a from across the room.  Hop back again.

      Horse Gallop:  Stand on your feet.  Gallop across the room with one foot leading.  Gallop back with the other foot leading.

      Pig Roll: Lay on the floor and roll like a pig in the mud.

      Hen Flap: Tuck your hands under your arms to make wings like a hen.  Flap your wings as you strut across the room.

      Goat Kick: Stand on your feet and place your hands on the floor.  Walk across the room as you kick out your heels.

      Duck Waddle: Place your heels together with your toes apart.  Place your hands at your sides and waddle across the room.

      Print out your printable animal brain break cards.

      Add heavy work to these activities by pushing against the wall like the animals in the book (affiliate link) push against the little blue truck to help their friend out of the mud. 

       These farm animal themed brain breaks would work for any of these farm book. 

      Looking for more movement and learning brain breaks?  You’ll love this dinosaur version based on the book, Dinosaurumpus! (affiliate link)

      Little Blue Truck and farm themed brain breaks for attention, focus and sensory needs in the classroom based on farm animals.

      Looking for more farm themed activities? 

      These Farm brain breaks go very well with our Farm Therapy Kit! It has 93 pages of farm activities and therapy resources: 

      • Farm connect the dot pages
      • Farm crafts
      • Farm visual motor activities using bales of hay
      • Farm sensory motor movement tasks
      • Farm handwriting activities
      • Farm visual discrimination tasks
      • Farm executive functioning tasks
      • Farm letter cards
      • And much more!

      Get your copy of the Farm Therapy Kit here!


      Free Farm Brain Breaks

      Print off the farm brain breaks page and get started with gross motor activities! This item is also found in our membership under Level 1 along with all of the other free printables on our site. It’s also found in Level 2 under Farm Theme.

      Not a member yet? Join us today!

      FREE Farm Brain Breaks

        We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

        Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

        Partner Yoga Poses for Kids

        partner yoga poses for kids

        If you are looking for a fun and healthy activity to do with a group of children, partner yoga poses for kids are the way to go. Kids yoga partner poses offer a great option for small groups that not only promotes gross motor coordination, physical fitness, and self-regulation supports, but also encourages social connection and teamwork. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of partner yoga for kids and share some beginner, moderate, and advanced partner yoga poses that are suitable for children of all ages and abilities.

        partner yoga poses for kids

        Partner Yoga for Kids

        Yoga is a fantastic way for kids to stay active and healthy while also promoting mental and emotional wellbeing. Some of the benefits of yoga for kids include:

        In addition to these benefits, partner yoga for children has the added advantage of promoting social skills, problem solving, and teamwork. By working together with a partner or group, kids can learn valuable skills such as communication, cooperation, and trust. 

        It may be worth while to try single yoga poses before going straight for kids partner yoga. However, if you start where the child is at, anything is possible! We have tons of adorable yoga card decks to inspire your next step:

        Unicorn Yoga

        Penguin Yoga 

        Butterfly Yoga & Exercise

        Posture Exercise for Kids

        Cross Crawl Exercises 

        Some partner yoga positions for kids can include the list below. We’ve also broken down various partner yoga for kids into levels of difficulty as a way to grade this motor activity, depending on the needs of the individuals.

        1. Double Tree Pose
        2. Double Downward Dog
        3. Partner Forward Fold
        4. Partner Backbend
        5. Partner Boat Pose
        6. Seated Wide-Legged Forward Fold with Partner
        7. Partner Wheel Pose
        8. Double Warrior Pose
        9. Partner Twist
        10. Double Child’s Pose
        11. Partner Plank Pose
        12. Flying Lizard Pose
        13. Partner Shoulderstand
        14. Double Camel Pose
        15. Partner Supported Headstand
        Easy partner yoga for kids

        Easy Partner Yoga Poses for Kids

        Let’s jump into some great easy partner yoga poses to start with! This is a great starting point for young kids, or for any age when getting started with partner yoga. Just coordinating body movements with another individual can be a challenge in body awareness, force of modulation, and motor planning!

        Please keep in mind the physical abilities and coordination skills of your group (we don’t want any injuries!) and be creative with adjusting these poses as necessary for the benefit of the group. You can even have the kids make up their own poses to really get them involved! 

        Try these easy 2 person yoga poses:

        Partner Forward Fold: Partners sit down facing eachother in the straddle stretch, where you sit upright with legs out in front of you like a “V”. Partner’s press their feet together and hold hands, taking turns stretching forward and backward. 

        Partner Seated Twist: Sit back-to-back with your partner in a criss-cross legged position. Lift your arms and reach and twist to the right. Your left hand should be on your right knee, and your right hand should be on your partner’s left knee. Don’t forget to twist both ways! 

        Lizard Sunbathing on a Rock: A crazy fun name, but it’s easier than it sounds! The partner who is the “rock” will curl up into child’s pose. The “lizard” partner will stretch out onto the rock with their arms over their head and legs straight, arching their back over the back of the “rock”. 

        Double Chair Pose: Stand back-to-back with your partner, locking elbows. Squat down together until your body resembles a chair – your knees should make a right angle. 

        Moderate Partner Yoga Poses 

        Next, let’s move into slightly more challenging poses when it comes to yoga for two kids or individuals. These partner poses can be a little more difficult because they require more balance, coordination, and partner involvement.

        For children struggling with body awareness and force modulation, this can be a real challenge, but as occupational therapy practitioners, we know the value of using an activity to challenge and build skills at a level that fosters the just right challenge while developing skills.

        Partner Tree Pose: Stand side-by-side with your partner and raise your inner arms up to “high five” your partner as high as your can reach. Your inner hips should touch and lean on eachother. Lift your outside foot and place it against your inner thigh. Place your outside arm at your hip, up in the air, or at your partners other hand. You have become one tree with your partner! 

        Double Warrior I: Partners face opposite each other and lunge forward with their right leg. Their back legs should make an “x” shape. Raise both arms up and reach slightly behind you to touch the hands of your partner. 

        Double Reverse Warrior: Partners will stand side-by-side with their legs far apart. The outer leg bends and the back leg is straight, as in Warrior II. Partners lean back towards eachother in reverse warrior pose, touching fingertips with outside arms. Inside arms can hold hands or rest on the thigh. 

        Partner Boat Pose: Sit facing your partner with your legs straight out in front of you. Lift your feet off the ground, touching the soles of the feet together in the air while you balance on your sit bones. Hold hands through or around your legs to help you and your partner balance. 

        Advanced Partner Yoga Poses 

        These yoga poses for kids require 2 people and more advanced motor skills, balance, and coordination, but the benefits are great. For individuals that need more heavy work input, greater balance and motor planning challenges, these partner yoga positions are ideal.

        Double Downward Dog: One partner will go into downward facing dog. The second partner will begin in downward dog and carefully place their feet on the back or hips of their partner, instead of on the ground. 

        Balancing Warriors: This partner pose is in warrior III, where the front leg is straight, the body is leaning forward, arms reaching, and the back leg is lifted up into the air to make a “T” shape in the body. Face your partner so when you reach your arms in front of you, you can touch eachother’s shoulders and balance together. 

        Bridge and Shoulder Stand: One partner will go into bridge pose, lying on their backs with their hips up. The second partner will start in bridge pose, but place their feet on the knees of their partner, and push up a bit higher into a shoulder stand. 

        Plow and Seated Forward Fold: Partner one is in a plow pose, where they are on their backs and bring their feet up over their head so they are sort of folded at the stomach. The second partner brings their legs on top of the plow and leans forward into a seated forward fold. Partners reach towards each other to grab hands – this pose looks a bit like an infinity symbol! 

        Tips for Partner Yoga for Kids

        There are many ways to target specific skills through yoga activities. Try some of these tips to foster all of the benefits of partner yoga with kids:

        • Make sure to switch up partner placements for the poses where they have different tasks!
        • Switch sides as well, so both the left and right get the same level of exercise or stretch.
        • Encourage the kids to listen to their bodies, keep breathing, and laugh when they fall.
        • Consider using the ideas listed above within the family before moving to friends or small groups in therapy sessions. Offer the ideas listed above as options for family yoga poses. This can provide all of the benefits while participating in a more comfortable environment.

        All in all, yoga poses for kids with 2 people is a fun and healthy activity for kids that promotes physical fitness, mental and emotional wellbeing, and social connection.

        By practicing a wide variety of poses – ones for flexibility, balance, and strengthening – kids of all ages and abilities can enjoy the benefits of yoga while building valuable teamwork and communication skills.

        Sydney Thorson, OTR/L, is a new occupational therapist working in school-based therapy. Her
        background is in Human Development and Family Studies, and she is passionate about
        providing individualized and meaningful treatment for each child and their family. Sydney is also
        a children’s author and illustrator and is always working on new and exciting projects.

        Zoom Ball Games for Occupational Therapy

        zoom ball

        Have you heard of the Zoom Ball?  Is zoom ball games and activities part of your OT Toolbox? This classic activity is a must for elementary school aged children and above.  In this post we will explore ways to play with a zoom ball in occupational therapy, and how a zoom ball supports the development of gross motor coordination, visual convergence, wrist range of motion, and other skills.

        zoom ball games and activities for therapy

        Amazon affiliate links are included in this blog post. As an Amazon Influencer, I earn from qualifying purchases.

        Zoom Ball in OT

        With the daily onslaught of new products and technology available for play, it can be challenging to select the best activities for your learners.  My advice?  Stick to the classics.  They are tried and true methods, incorporating multiple skills, for a fraction of the price of high tech options. (Amazon affiliate link) Zoom ball is no exception. For younger learners, Zoom ball will be a novelty and instant winner.  Older learners can take comfort in the familiar activity.

        What is Zoom Ball?

        Zoomball (affiliate link) (or Zoom Ball, Zip-it, Rip-it) is a great two player game. It is best played outdoors or in a large space.  Players pull the handles to send the ball flying to the player on the opposite end.

        Tug of war: the harder you pull out, the faster the ball zooms to your opponent. 

        Variation – Hydro Zoom ball (affiliate link) filled with water balloons that splash, making it a great tool for outdoor sensory play and backyard lawn games.

        What skills are addressed using Zoom Ball?

        Therapy time is limited. There are a ton of goals to cover in a short amount of time. Picking activities that address multiple skills are an efficient use of therapy time. Zoom Ball is no exception. 

        • Bilateral coordination – both hands, shoulders, sides of the body need to be working at the same time, in order for the ball to shoot correctly.  This may prove challenging for learners with definite one sided weakness.  Hand over hand assist can be provided to compensate, until the learner builds strength or is able to compensate on their own. in this activity, both arms are doing the same thing, in opposite directions.  Coordinating both arms to work at the same time is key to getting the ball all the way down to the partner. The OT Toolbox has an informative post on Bilateral Coordination here.
        • Eye-hand coordination – the eyes must follow the ball in order to prepare for the upcoming turn. This is a fast paced game. If the learner does not send the ball back quickly, it will start to retreat back down the rope.  At this point it will need to be retrieved by one of the learners or a helper.  This is also critical to thwart the element of surprise at being smacked in the hands with an incoming ball. Read more about hand-eye coordination.
        • Visual skills- Visual scanning, tracking, and convergence, play a critical role in this Zoomball game. not only are learners required to watch the ball, there is an amount of depth perception needed to determine how close or far away the ball is to the player.  Convergence and divergence are developed while playing Zoom Ball.
        • Motor planning – Zoomball takes coordination of several muscle groups to be able to make the ball move to the other end. Timing, strength, and coordination need to be planned for smooth movement.  At first, this will be a cognitive effort while the brain and the muscles communicate this intricate dance.  After some practice, the muscles understand what to do, working in sync.  A definite motor plan is developed while navigating all of the movements and steps it takes to coordinate getting the ball down the line and receiving it. For learners with motor planning difficulty, this will be a lengthy process with several stops and starts. Read about motor planning.
        • Strength – it takes a fair amount of shoulder and grip strength to launch the ball the full distance.  core strength, shoulder and wrist stability, head control, balance, and hand strength are all needed for being successful at the Zoom Ball game. You can try shortening the ropes if your learner does not have enough strength.
        • Social function – communicating with a partner, turn taking, problem solving, compliance, attention to detail, patience, and frustration tolerance can all be addressed using a Zoom ball. working together in a group, problem solving, sharing materials and space, turn taking, and cooperation are great social skills developed using the Zoom Ball in therapy.
        • Executive function – following directions, attention, focus, sequencing, planning, task completion are key to success. Executive function, following directions, attention, attention to detail, focus, sequencing, planning, task completion, impulse control, compliance, behavior, and work tolerance are all important skills to learn while doing any activity.
        • Kinesthetic awareness – This means learning by doing. No amount of verbally explaining how the Zoom Ball works can replace getting in there and experiencing it
        • Proprioception – heavy work, bumping and crashing, pulling/pulling/lifting/carrying are all strategies to build proprioceptive skills and awareness. Zoom ball definitely involves bumping and crashing, heavy work, and pulling!
        • Hand strength – it takes a fair amount of grip strength to hang onto the handles while the ball is moving back and forth down the ropes
        • Timing- this goes hand in hand with impulse control. Timing when to pull your arms out to zoom the ball, when to close your arms and hold on tight, how long to hold your arms out, and when to brace for impact.

        How to use the Zoom Ball in Occupational Therapy

        Not only do occupational therapy providers like to have fun in therapy, it is important that the activities support the development of new skills.  Play is the function of a child, therefore play based therapy is important in teaching learners new skills. 

        The Zoom Ball, while used to develop and practice skills, is definitely a fun game, once both participants get the hang of it.  The Zoom Ball game is of course not limited to occupational therapy providers…  It is great for physical therapists, speech language pathologists, caregivers, teachers, PE teachers, and more. 

        Therapists love activities that address multiple skills at once.  It makes our job easier and much more efficient than planning 47 activities for an hour-long session.

        • Traditional method – two people stand opposite each other with the rope taught between them.  The first person spreads their arms wide enough to launch the ball at their partner.  Once it reaches their partner, they repeat the motion of opening their arms wide.  The wider, faster, and more forceful the movement, the better the ball will move.  There is a big learning curve to get the ball to go far enough to reach the other end.  Usually it ends up stuck in the middle somewhere until your learners get the hang of it
        • Ramp – play Zoom Ball on an incline.  The stronger player will be launching uphill, while the less strong/younger/poorly coordinated learner will be at the top, flowing downhill. This is a great challenge for targeting balance activities.
        • Experiment – talk about problem solving and demonstrate what happens if your learner goes too slow, uses one arm more than another, does not pay attention, pulls their arms fast and hard, etc.
        • Use the Zoom Ball in a Single Direction – If there are only two of you, and your learner needs significant help, tie one end onto a tree or post.  Provide hand over hand assistance to launch the Zoom Ball, then manually retrieve and reset it.
        • Add a communication/cognitive element – have learners count while launching the ball, say a letter of the alphabet each time they launch, play categories yelling out a word in the category until someone is not fast enough to name something, do math facts, listen to a set of numbers/letters/items and repeat them while playing.

        How to Play with a Zoom Ball

        Directions for use: 

        • Players pull the handles to send the ball hurling toward the other player
        • For 2 players
        • The line between the players must be taut in order for the ball to zoom across 
        • The harder the players pull while spreading their arms apart, the faster and harder the ball will go
        • There is definitely a learning curve to this activity, with a lot of fetching the ball  stuck in the middle along the way

        If your learner is fearful of the ball crashing into their hands, you can add “bumpers” using clay, polymer, or pieces of foam that is attached to the string.

        Zoom Ball Games

        In addition to changing the type of Zoom Ball as highlighted above, changing the way it is played can also add to the challenge.  There are some great ways to make the task more challenging.

        Try these variations of zoom ball games:

        • Kneel while doing the Zoom Ball – kneeling on both knees or on one knee at a time changes the element of balance and increases the need for core strength
        • Standing on a foam cushion – standing on an uneven surface such as a wiggle cushion, foam block, or Bosu ball can increase the level of challenge
        • Stand on one foot – now there is an added challenge of balance while playing
        • Change arm movements – what about chomping up and down like an alligator while moving the ball
        • Categories – yell out an item in a category each time the ball touches the player’s hands
        • Math facts – yell out a math fact for students to answer when it is their turn
        • Counting – count the number of passes between students before they make a mistake
        • Spelling – shout out spelling words as the ball zooms back and forth

        More Resources:

        The OT Toolbox has an Outdoor Lawn Games  post to add to your outdoor fun.

        How about some more information on Upper Body Strength?

        Types of Zoom Balls

        There are several different variations of the classic Zoom Ball. While the classic stands the test of time, there may be reasons to mix it up once in a while.

        Check out some of the variations below (Amazon affiliate links):

        Classic Zoom Ball (affiliate link) is made of a plastic hollow football, with two sets of handles on each end of a long cord.  The slogan is “zip it to rip it”.  There are several variations on this classic model:

        Hydro Zoom Ball (affiliate link) – fill the ball with a water balloon that explodes when it reaches one of the ends.  This adds the element of surprise, as you never know when the balloon will pop!

        Foam Zip Ball (affiliate link) – this features a softer ball and shorter ropes for use with children ages five and up or those with lower range of motion or strength.

        Homemade Zoom Ball – Make your own Zoom Ball!  All you need is string/cord, a two liter bottle, and some duct tape. Cut the bottoms off two plastic water bottles and duct tape the open bottoms together. Thread the string through the tops of both water bottles and then play.

        Other Great Resources from the OT Toolbox to Develop Coordination Skills:

        While there is a push out there to include electronics, technology, and gaming to everything children do, don’t forget to teach classic activities and games like Zoom Ball that their parents and grandparents grew up playing.  There is a good reason these activities have withstood the test of time to become classic games. 

        Victoria Wood, OTR/L is a contributor to The OT Toolbox and has been providing Occupational Therapy treatment in pediatrics for more than 25 years. She has practiced in hospital settings (inpatient, outpatient, NICU, PICU), school systems, and outpatient clinics in several states. She has treated hundreds of children with various sensory processing dysfunction in the areas of behavior, gross/fine motor skills, social skills and self-care. Ms. Wood has also been a featured speaker at seminars, webinars, and school staff development training. She is the author of Seeing your Home and Community with Sensory Eyes.

        Cross Crawl Exercises

        cross crawls

        This article covers cross crawl exercises as a brain break tool and a bilateral coordination strategy to add sensory movement. Have you heard the term cross crawl and wondered what that meant? As parents, educators, and therapists, we are always looking for ways to help promote overall development of the children in our lives. One way to build connections in the brain and body is through meaningful exercise. In this post, we will focus in on a super important type of exercise: the cross-crawl.

        Related: Butterfly Balance and Coordination Exercises 

        What is a Cross Crawl

        What is cross-crawl?

        Cross crawl is defined as movements or cross lateral actions that are exercises that describe a category of movement – not just one exercise. Cross-crawl exercises are movements that involve crossing the midline of the body, which is an imaginary line that divides the body into left and right halves. You may have heard of the phrase bilateral coordination and crossing midline used with cross-crawls, too. 

        The movement utilizes both hemispheres of the brain in a whole-brain activity by bringing self-awareness to the body (body awareness) as well as the physical coordination needed to create the physical, cross-lateral movements.

        Cross Crawl exercises are specific cross lateral (one side of the body crosses, or reaches over to the other side of the body) movements designed to activate both sides of the brain and improve coordination, balance, and motor skills using a set number or repetitions.

        Cross-crawl exercises can be as simple as marching or as complex as dancing, but they all involve movements that require the left and right sides of the body to work together while completing opposing actions. This might include: yoga, crunches with oblique rotation, standing and touching the right hand to the left foot/left hand to the right foot, standing and touching one elbow to the opposite knee, etc.

        Pretty cool, right? 

        Benefits of cross crawls

        What do Cross Crawl Exercises do?

        What are the benefits of cross-crawl exercises?

        Cross-crawl exercises offer a wide range of benefits for children of all ages. 

        Here are some of the most important benefits of cross-crawl exercises:

        Improved coordination: Cross-crawl exercises help to improve coordination between the left and right sides of the body, which can lead to better balance and overall coordination. The cognitive coordination is visible as the child thinks about the action needed to complete the exercise and then works through the motor plan to complete the movements. 

        As that action becomes more fluid, the movements occur in a more rhythmic way.

        Increased brain activity: These exercises activate both sides of the brain and often challenge it to coordinate new motor plans. This can improve cognitive function and help children learn and remember new information.

        Brain development occurs through a variety of movements, sensory stimulation, experiences, and learning opportunities. The cross-crawl technique is a tool to add to the sensory movement toolbox as completing the cross-pattern movements moves from slow and intentional to ingrained and automatic. This is fluid movement happening.

        Better motor skillsCross-crawl exercises can help children develop gross motor strength and coordination. They may be able to jump higher, fall less, run faster, climb to the top… you get the idea!

        Some of the motor skills that can improve include:

        Improved reading and writing skills: Crossing the midline is required during reading and writing. Practicing cross-crawl exercises has been shown to improve these skills by helping children develop better eye-tracking (visual tracking) and hand-eye coordination. These can be a great classroom brain break for academic work.

        Add the cross crawl activity to your list of ways to add movement to the classroom!

        Reduced stress and anxiety: Cross-crawl exercises can help to reduce stress and anxiety by promoting relaxation and mindfulness. This occurs because the nervous system’s responses play a huge role in how we think, behave, and respond to a given situation. We cover this in more detail in our blog post on the limbic system.

        We talk about the mind-body connections of movement as a self-regulation tool to impact stress, worries, frustration, and anxiety in our resources on anxiety and sensory coping skills

        An opportunity to recharge through movement is a great tool to have on hand for a real stress buster! 

        In addition, there are significant social-emotional benefits to supporting stress and anxiety through movement.

        Improved Confidence: When you are able to accomplish new things, like riding a bike, passing the swimming test, or compete in a high level of your sport, confidence soars! 

        How to do a cross crawl exercise

        How to do a Cross Crawl Exercise

        A cross crawl is a simple, yet effective way to build skills. You’ll see below that development of cross-lateral skills occurs naturally through play in each age range. So what does a cross-crawl exercise look like?

        How to complete a cross crawl exercise:

        1. When standing, bend the left knee to lift the left foot up off the floor. 
        2. Bend and rotate slightly at the waist to touch your right elbow to your left knee.
        3. Then stand back up straight again.
        4. Next, bend the right knee and bring the right foot up off the floor. 
        5. Bend and rotate slightly at the waist to touch your left elbow to your right knee.
        6. Then stand back up straight again.

        Essentially, in cross lateral exercises, we are physically moving to connect the left side of the body with the right side of the body. This engages both the right hemisphere of the brain (with one action) to the left hemisphere of the brain (with a different action). Both sides of your brain are engaged and active through the movements.

        There are many ways to connect the right leg to the left arm and the left leg to the right arm. Adding upper and lower body movements, plus rotation, to left and right sides of the body occurs naturally throughout the day in daily tasks. 

        Let’s do a simple activity analysis of a daily task like washing clothes. Think about pulling a load of laundry out of a washing machine. 

        • You might need to bend at the waist and place your left hand into a washing machine, reaching down towards your right side. You see rotation at work, as well as reaching across the body. 
        • You pull heavy, wet clothing out of the washer and pull it across your body to place it into a dryer. 
        • Then, your right hand reaches across your body and down to push the wet laundry into the dryer. 

        This is just looking at two simple actions in the whole task, and presenting one layout. This daily task can incorporate cross lateral movements in many different ways. What we see though, is that these actions occur naturally.

        This simple exercise can be expanded on in many ways. We cover different ways to incorporate opposite sides of the body work in age-appropriate manners below.

        Cross crawl exercises

        Cross Crawl Exercises

        It’s important to present kids with age-appropriate cross-crawl exercises for children as a tool that supports the areas needed for each individual.

        Here is a list of cross crawl exercises that can be incorporated into obstacle courses, brain breaks, exercise sequences, etc. These can be modified to meet the needs of individuals of all ages. Find age-appropriate and play based cross crawl activities that occur naturally in daily tasks and interests listed below.

        1. Standing cross crawl- Stand on the right foot. Raise the left foot and touch the left knee to the right elbow. Hold the pose. Then raise the right foot and touch the right knee to the left elbow. Hold the pose. Try to maintain balance without falling.
        2. Seated cross crawl- Sit on a chair, bench, or surface without a back support. Repeat the directions from #1 in a seated position.
        3. Laying cross crawl- Lie down on the floor on your back. Bend at the waist and touch the right elbow to the left knee. Return to lying flat on the floor. Then, bend the left elbow and to touch the right knee. Repeat with trunk rotation for crunches with oblique muscle involvement.
        4. Bug exercise- Lie down on the floor with your arms above your head on the floor and your legs straight. Keep your right arm straight and raise it up as you raise your left leg straight up to touch your right hand to your left foot. Repeat on the other side.
        5. Standing cross crawl on an unstable surface- Repeat the directions from #1 while standing on an unstable surface such as a pillow, a foam exercise mat, at slanted surface, or a low step.
        6. Standing toe touch- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your arms stretched overhead. Bend and reach your right hand down to touch your left foot. Stand back up and repeat on the other side.
        7. Bridge cross crawl- Position in a crawling position with belly lifted up off the ground. Bring one knee up and touch the opposite elbow to the knee. Repeat on the other side.
        8. Plank cross crawl- Position in a raised plank position. Carefully lift one hand and reach down to touch the opposite hip. Return the hand to the plank position. Repeat on the other side. Then try touching the hand to the opposite knee.
        9. Plank leg raise- Position in a raised plank position. Bring one knee up and touch the knee with the opposite hand. Repeat on the other side.
        10. Seated toe touch- Sit on the floor with legs spread wide. Reach across the body and touch the right hand to the left toes. Hold. Then repeat on the opposite side.

        Here are some age-appropriate variations of cross-crawl exercises that children of all ages can enjoy:

        Infants (birth -1 year): Before they are able to crawl (my favorite cross-crawl exercise!) you can teach your baby the motions while they lay on their back. 

        Make it fun with a song or silly sounds and gently move the arm down and across the body while the opposite leg moves up and in – just how it would look if they were crawling

        • Use floor play activities
        • Use toys to encourage crawling
        • Place a bin or basket to one side and balls, toys, or blocks the child can place into the basket on the other side to to encourage rotation and reaching across the midline

        Toddlers (ages 1-3): Toddlers can benefit from simplified cross-crawl exercises, such as crawling, rolling, and clapping. 

        Encourage your toddler to crawl across the room (or  over furniture or your legs for an extra challenge!), roll from side to side, and complete high fives across all directions. They’ll love being able to play like this with you! 

        • Use a target like a blow up inner tube and encourage crawling and reaching across the body to sort colors like in this hand eye coordination activities for toddlers task.
        • Play follow the leader, simon says activities to encourage various movements
        • Climbing toys and activities
        • Hokey pokey games

        Preschoolers (ages 3-5): Preschoolers can enjoy more complex cross-crawl exercises, such as hopping on one foot, skipping, and dancing. 

        Play music and encourage your preschooler to dance around the room, hop on one foot, and skip across the yard.

        • All of the ideas listed above, plus…
        • Freeze dance
        • Follow the leader
        • Simon Says commands that target crossing midline
        • Yoga poses
        • Standing cross crawl exercises

        Elementary school-age children (ages 6-12): Elementary school-age children can enjoy a variety of cross-crawl exercises, such as crab walks, mountain climbers, and yoga. These movements can be added to brain break games like Simon Says, Follow the Leader, and Charades.

        Encourage your child to try new activities and find ones that they enjoy. This is a great break activity for the classroom or for an after school brain break before doing homework!

        • More complex yoga activities
        • Quadruped cross crawl exercises
        • Twister game
        • Complex charade games
        • Gymnastics
        • Martial arts
        • Basketball
        • Soccer
        • Riding a bike
        • Climbing trees
        • Swimming
        • Climbing walls
        • Ribbon dancing

        Teens (ages 13-18): Teens can benefit from more challenging cross-crawl exercises, such as martial arts, structured dance, and team sports. High school occupational therapy can support this age with various tools to encourage mental health, coping strategies, and learning. Encourage your teen to try new activities and find ones that challenge them both mentally and physically.

        Use the complex movements in brain breaks for high school or middle school brain breaks depending on the age.

        • All of the activities listed above plus…
        • Complex yoga sequences
        • Horseback riding
        • Track and field activities like Discus/Shot put/javelin
        • Cross training activities for sports
        • Kickboxing
        • Weightlifting
        • Cooking
        • Tai chi
        • Sports like basketball, football, basketball, kickboxing, martial arts, dance, etc.

        For more exercise ideas, check out the Motor Skills Exercise Wheel. You can also have a great time challenging yourself and the kids with an OT Obstacle Course! 

        It’s clear that cross-crawl exercises are an important aspect of the complex brain and a part of childhood development that should not be overlooked. All ages can enjoy and benefit from cross crawls! 

        By incorporating these intentional cross-lateral activity exercises into your child’s daily routine, you can help them improve their coordination, balance, motor skills, cognitive function, and overall well-being. So, let’s get moving!

        The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook walks you through sensory processing information, each step of creating a meaningful and motivating sensory diet, that is guided by the individual’s personal interests and preferences.

        The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook is not just about creating a sensory diet to meet sensory processing needs. This handbook is your key to creating an active and thriving lifestyle based on a deep understanding of sensory processing.

        Sydney Thorson, OTR/L, is a new occupational therapist working in school-based therapy. Her
        background is in Human Development and Family Studies, and she is passionate about
        providing individualized and meaningful treatment for each child and their family. Sydney is also
        a children’s author and illustrator and is always working on new and exciting projects.

        Hand Eye Coordination Activities for Toddlers

        hand eye coordination activities for toddlers

        If you are looking for fun ways to help toddlers develop skills through play, then this hand eye coordination activities for toddlers is for you. During the toddler years, there is much development happening. Whether you need fun ways to help little ones build gross or fine motor skills, this hand eye coordination activity will support the cognitive and physical development the young child can use for learning and play.

        hand eye coordination activities for toddlers

        Hand Eye Coordination Activities for Toddlers

        Hand eye coordination refers to the coordination between visual input through the eyes and physical motor movements through an integration of the visual and motor systems in order to use the hands and arms.

        These early years have many fine motor milestones that support functional skills and self-care. Additionally, the visual motor development of this age is huge!

        Hand Eye coordination for toddlers is necessary for play, self-feeding, and increasing independence in young children.

        This is a developmental skill that begins at a young age and progresses in skill and precision.

        Examples of Hand Eye Coordination in Toddlers

        Toddlers gain precision and accuracy in motor skills at a rapid rate. You’ll notice this as they become more and more refined in motor skills. Some examples of activities that require hand-eye coordination during the toddler years includes:

        • Throwing a ball
        • Catching a ball
        • Drawing with a crayon (Read about the best crayons for toddlers)
        • Stacking blocks
        • Age-appropriate toys like dolls or figures
        • Taking off socks/putting on socks
        • Taking off clothing (shirts/pants) and putting on clothing
        • Putting toys into containers, bags, purses
        • Participating in pretend play
        • Self-feeding using feeding utensils (Read here for tips on how to hold a spoon to encourage self-feeding skills
        • Drinking from an open cup

        All of these functional areas of day to day activities for toddlers build skills through actually participating in the task. However, you can definitley foster the underlying skills needed to support independence through play! For example, we love using play based learning or a craft for 2 year olds and all ranges of toddlerhood!

        Why build hand eye coordination in toddlers?

        There are many benefits to encouraging hand eye coordination activities in toddlers. Through play, you can create opportunities for young children to gain the type of play that the young child needs. This includes fine motor play, gross motor play, and not screen use!

        Some benefits for toddlers to participate in hand eye coordination tasks includes:

        Toddler Hand Eye Coordination Activities

        Hand eye coordination activities for toddlers can be simple, yet fun. Some ideas include:

        Try the hand eye coordination activity we did using an inner tube. This is a great color activity for young children.

        This was a fun little play activity for the Toddlers.  Niece and nephew (19 months) was with us one day and LOVED doing this.  

        I put the blue inner tube and a little basketful of balls out on the dining room floor.  I put one ball into the center of the inner tube and he was INTO it!  Little nephew went crazy putting the balls in the center, taking them out, putting them back into the basket.  This was FUN!

        What are we learning with this activity?

        • Eye-Hand Coordination
        • Toddler Visual-motor skills
        • Cause and effect (if I throw this ball into the center, it might bounce out…)
        • Learning colors
        • Gross Motor Skills (throwing, rolling, bouncing)

        We’ve been on a BLUE kick around here these days.
        This was a fun little play activity for the Toddlers.  Nephew (19 months) was with us one day and LOVED doing this.  

        This little (and EASY…seriously, it does not get much easier than this…) game will be coming out again.  This Aunt can clean up the breakfast mess when something like this is going on!


        Tips for Toddler Hand eye coordination skills

        When setting up activities for toddlers, some tips include following the child’s lead. Offer support when needed, but allow the young child to participate in the process. Sometimes working and playing along side the toddler offers a model that the young child can copy if they like, but they won’t feel pressured and they still have the autonomy that gives them a sense of success.

        Most of all, have fun!

        Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to