Jump into fall with gross motor activities for all!


The weather is getting colder and the leaves are starting to change colors which means it’s fall here in Chicago! These activities are perfect for outdoor play, as well as indoor play that will help promote gross motor development for your child’s balance, strength, coordination, and motor planning skills. These activities will have your child FALLing in love with all things FALL!

What are gross motor activities and why are they important?

Gross motor activities are important for your child’s development and mobility which include crawling, walking, jumping, running, stairs, throwing, and kicking. These skills are seen throughout the development of your child as they gain more strength and mobility! Gross motor development is essential to your child’s physical well-being as well as their social and emotional growth. Creating activities that promote strengthening, balance, coordination, and motor planning are ways you can help your child meet these developmental milestones in your own home or in the community! 

Check out some of these gross motor activities that your child can enjoy this fall!


Fall Themed Gross Motor Activities:

Apple Tree Game: This activity is perfect for working on balance and coordination! First use painters tape (safe for your floors inside!) to create a trunk and branches of a tree. Next, place apples or paper apples at the end of each branch. Starting at the bottom of the tree, have your child balance along the trunk and branches to get the apples, but only one at a time! This could be completed individually or in groups as a race to see who can get the apples faster.  If you would rather play outside, you can use sidewalk chalk for the trunk and branches!



Apple Toss: This game is perfect for working on all areas of gross motor! First, place paper cut-outs of apples across your floor (you can use painters tape to hold them down),

with each apple labeled with an exercise. You can create your own exercises for your child based upon their age and goals. Examples may include; jumping jacks, sit-ups, balancing on one leg, frog jumps, or hopping with both or one foot. Have them toss a bean bag or a stuffed animal at an apple. Once they land on an apple and complete the exercise, they get to “pick” the apple! Continue until all the apples are picked! Tossing a bean bag or stuffed animal is perfect for eye hand coordination, accuracy, and strength.


Playing in Leaves: A perfect way to enjoy being outdoors while working on a variety of tasks! Here are some ways to include gross motor play with leaves;

  • Jumping from leaf to leaf, if two foot jumps are too easy try one foot jumping!
  • Balancing on one leaf with one foot, try for 10 seconds!
  • Jumping into a pile of leaves
  • Raking leaves – works on upper extremity strengthening, motor planning, and coordination


Halloweeen Themed Activities: Can be completed both indoors and outdoors! Perfect for any Halloween parties! 

  • Spider crawls: Have your child walk on their hands and feet with their tummy facing the sky, just like a crab walk. This works on strengthening their arms, core, and legs! Feel free to add a “web” with toilet paper, yarn, or tape and have them navigate around it! See if they can reach the other side of the web without touching it!
  • Pumpkin toss: Take an orange piece of paper and draw a pumpkin or a jack-o-lantern face, then tape onto a ball. Practice tossing the pumpkin for catching and throwing skills! If you’re playing this in a large group, you can have your version of musical chairs! Play your favorite Halloween songs and stop! Whoever catches the pumpkin last is out for that round. 


Spider Toss: This game is fun for all ages and a great way to promote coordination and throwing! All you need is painters tape for the web and paper for the spiders! First place tape in a door frame or within a hallway. For the spiders, take paper and make it into paper balls. With your child facing the sticky side of the tape, have them throw the paper and try to have them stick in the web! Practice with overhand or underhand throwing, or at different distances from the web. Have your child stand on a pillow for another challenge!


Questions or concerns? 

If you have questions or concerns about your child’s gross motor development, please contact us at info@playworkschicago.com or 773-332-9439.


Bridgett Hunziker, PT, DPT

Physical Therapist



Boylan, L. (2022, September 5). No prep gross motor indoor apple picking activity. Hands On As We Grow®. Retrieved September 6, 2022, from https://handsonaswegrow.com/gross-motor-painters-tape-apple-tree-picking/

Carolyn, B. (n.d.). Home. Simple Play Ideas. Retrieved September 6, 2022, from http://simpleplayideas.com/halloween-gross-motor-fun

Chanda. (2021, October 22). Apple Toss – Gross Motor Game. Pink Oatmeal. Retrieved September 6, 2022, from https://www.pinkoatmeal.com/apple-toss-gross-motor-game

Reimer, J. (2022, September 1). Sticky spider web activity that is fun and simple. Hands On As We Grow®. Retrieved September 6, 2022, from https://handsonaswegrow.com/spider-web-halloween/ 

Photo Credit: Carrie Budzinski via littleguidedetriot.com; Lisa Boylan via Hands On as We Grow; Chanda via PinkOatmeal 

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