Balloon Fun to increase Gross Motor Skills
Wondering how you can work on your child’s gross motor development without fancy equipment? Below are 5 activities that address strengthening, balance, motor planning, coordination, and range of motion, all using just one simple object you likely already have at home—a balloon!
1. Bench Pose Balloon Float: Start sitting on the floor with your hands and feet flat. Lift your bottom up off the floor and keep your belly flat. With your hands flat on the floor, use your feet to keep the balloon in the air, kicking with one foot at a time. You may have to crab walk to keep the balloon from falling. Add another challenge by switching between hitting the balloon with your hands and feet. This is a great way to address balance, coordination, and strengthening.
2. Heel-to-Toe Standing with Spatula Float: Standing on a line with one foot in front of the other, heel to toe, use a spatula to keep the balloon floating in the air. You can use sidewalk chalk, painter’s tape, or even a cell phone charging cord to make your line! Make sure your toes are pointing forward and try not to step off the line! You may have to switch the spatula between hands. You can double the fun by hitting the balloon back and forth with a partner. This activity focuses on balance and coordination. If you don’t have a spatula you can use a fly swatter, a paper plate taped to a stick, or your hand.
3. Superhero Flying: Start with lying flat on your stomach and your arms stretched out in front of you. Keeping your arms and legs straight, lift them up off of the ground. Use your arms to keep the balloon from touching the ground. You can pretend the balloons are birds you want to avoid flying in to! Have a grown-up time you to see how long you can keep the balloon in the air without letting your arms touch the ground. This is a great activity for strengthening!
4. Kneeling on a Cloud: Using a large pillow, sit with one knee down and one foot flat, keeping your bottom off the pillow. Have a friend shout out various body parts for you to use to keep your balloon in the air. For example, your elbow, head, foot, or nose! This is a fun activity to work on labeling body parts as well as coordination and balance. Don’t forget to switch feet!
5. Criss Cross Applesauce Float: Does your kiddo frequently sit in the “w” position? Try this fun activity to encourage increased hip mobility with criss cross applesauce. Keep the balloon in the air using only your hands. You can hit the balloon back and forth with a partner to encourage reaching outside of the base of support.
Have questions about your child’s gross motor skills? Visit our website for a checklist of age appropriate skills and more information: http://www.abcpediatrictherapy.com
Mariah Cottrill, PT, DPT Physical Therapist