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Exercise for Kids: Free Printable Animal-Themed Gross Motor Game

Daily exercise is important for kids and affects child development, behavior, focus, and learning. The Department of Health and Human Services states that children should have at least one hour of moderate to intense physical activity daily.

Sensory-seeking and hyperactive children benefit from having even more physical activity.

One of the best ways to encourage exercise for kids is with activities involving gross motor play. Ideally, this involves playing outside. However, sometimes, it’s not so easy to get out of the house.

If either rainy or cold weather is keeping you cooped up inside the house, you may see your kids getting restless and struggling more to follow expectations. On indoor school days, they may also have difficulty focusing in the classroom.

For some children with either ADHD or autism, this can make it incredibly difficult to manage the full school day.

Benefits of Exercise for Kids

Exercise benefits childhood development in many ways. It’s equally as important for the brain as it is for the body.

Some benefits of exercise for kids include:

  • Improves ability to self-regulate emotions
  • Increases level of focus
  • Improves communication skills
  • Help reduce levels of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline
  • Helps with sensory integration
  • Reduces fidgeting when children need to sit still
  • Heightens ability to process new information
  • Positively influences neurotransmitter levels in the brain
  • Builds gross motor skills

Gross Motor Skill Development

Gross motor movements are movements involving the large muscles of the body, such as the core, arms legs, and back.

These skills are important for many everyday functions, for example, walking, riding a bike, throwing and catching a ball, and even sitting.

Building Blocks of Gross Motor Skills

According to KidSense, there are 12 building blocks to well-developed gross motor skills; these are:

Building blocks of well developed gross motor skills.

Animal-Themed Gross Motor Game

I created this animal-themed gross motor game because I wanted to make a fun way for kids to exercise, especially on days they can’t get outdoors.

I also wanted to ensure that the game helped with the development of all 12 building blocks for gross motor skill development.

Plus, there’s very little preparation required to play the game. All you have to do is print the cards and cut them out, and you will need to cut out the template for the dice, then fold and glue or tape it into a cube.

Use this game as a quick solution when you’re stuck inside or as a planned movement break.

What’s Included:

The printable includes one template for creating the dice to play, as well as 16 animal-movement based activity cards.

How To Play The Game

Follow the instructions below for both setting up and playing the game with your kids.

Animal Gross Motor Game

  1. Print and Prepare the printable

    First, print out the full document which is available to download: here
    Then, cut out all of the cards and place them face down in a pile. Cut out the cube, too and fold along the lines. Either use tape or glue on the tabs to put it together. Now, you’re ready to play.

  2. Roll the dice

    Players will take turns rolling the dice. Whichever number the player lands on will be the number of reps or seconds that all players will do the gross motor movement. For example, landing on 30 could mean 30 reps or 30 seconds of the activity.

  3. Draw a card

    Then, draw a card from the pile and flip it over to determine which movement you will be doing.

  4. Do the animal movement

    Now, everyone performs the animal movement for the time/reps specified by the dice. For example, if you rolled a 25 and the butterfly stretch card, you will do the butterfly stretch for 25 seconds. If you rolled a 10 and pulled the starfish jump card, you will do ten starfish jumps.

  5. Place your card at the bottom of the pile

    When you’re finished, place your card face down at the bottom of the card pile so that everyone playing can take turns drawing cards for as long as they like.

Animal-Themed Gross Motor Movement Activity for Kids

More Fun Exercises For Kids

Fun Exercise Activities for Kids

Check out the following blog posts for even more great exercise activities for kids.


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