Looking for ideas that support children’s development of motor skills and problem-solving in your home environment? You don’t need fancy equipment or resources to do this, you will be surprised to learn that most of these ideas can be offered with minimal preparation.

Ideas for gross motor skill development


  • Throwing and or kicking balls in a bucket, hula hoop or etc, keep a score sheet and turn it into a graph (maths). Do this regularly and see how accuracy increases over time. Now try using your other arm or foot. 
  • Act like an animal? E.g. move your trunk like an elephant, wriggle like a snake etc. 
  • Yoga – try Cosmic Kids yoga 
  • Sweeping the yard
  • Cleaning windows
  • Bucket of water with paintbrushes to “paint” fence or side of the house
  • Obstacle course/ indoor or outdoor
  • Twister Board Game
  • Riding a balance bike, scooter or skateboard
  • Jumping on a trampoline
  • DIY balancing (using planks of wood, retaining walls, pool noodles etc.)
  • Mud kitchen

Ideas for fine motor skill development

  • Use a peg or tweezers to pick up small objects, depending on their skill this could be another peg or try a marble for the more skilled
  • Paint with a homemade paintbrush using a feather, leaf, cotton ball on a stick
  • Create with play dough, clay or slime, write your name using these resources, create your face, shapes, numbers. Add other resources from nature to create a dramatic picture or landscape. Add textures and smell to the dough etc 
  • Collecting stones outside and sorting them into groups according to size, colour or texture
  • Screwing and unscrewing containers and their lids
  • Wrapping “gifts” in paper, using sellotape to secure
  • Sorting buttons or other small objects
  • Drawing pirate treasure maps
  • Threading with beads or natural resources i.e shells, leaves
  • Putting coins into a money box slot

Ideas to support children’s problem-solving skills

Obstacle course

  • Treasure hunt with clues
  • Make a puzzle with ice block sticks, lay sticks in a line together and sellotape so they don’t move. Flip over and draw a picture on the other side or glue a photo being careful not to glue the stick together. Take the sellotape off and cut between the stick and jumble them up and recreate the picture.
  • Memory game with household objects show for 30 sec and hide object and name what they remember
  • Eye-spy using colours, shapes or letters depending on skill level
  • Scavenger hunt, using riddles as clues
  • Collect a random assortment of empty bottle or jars and jumble the lids up, the children have to use their problem-solving skills to determine which lid fits which jar/bottle
  • Some parents collect screws/nuts and bolts. The children could be given an assortment of these along with tools that fit each screw/bolt and the need to match them accordingly.

What other ideas can you think of to provide children with learning opportunities in these domains? We would love to hear your ideas!

Posted by Sharon Carlson

Sharon's early years were supported at home by her Mum in Taranaki. She later became an ECE ICT facilitator for CORE Education, and then Storypark. Sharon has successfully supported the implementation of a diverse range of ICT products and services around the country and is helping make sure Storypark is awesome for teachers and children's development.

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