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Can you do this?

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Gross motor

Duration/age

Duration: 
Suitable for children: 
Location: 
Skills this activity improves: 
Girl aged three running towards camera

Can you run and touch that tree?

Next time you are all outside you can play a game with lots of actions. Ask your child to follow your instructions, but keep it simple at first.

Can you run to that tree? Can you walk to the fence? Okay, now crawl back to me.

Try to think of lots of different ways to get your child moving. Younger children can walk, crawl and run. As they get older they can add more actions like hopping, jumping and skipping.

After a while you can make your instructions more challenging.

Can you hop to the red swing, then run to the pointy tree, then jump back to me? It’s a lot to remember!

How fast can you walk to the slide? Okay, the next one is tricky. Try and walk back to me while clapping your hands over your head.

Your child can give instructions to you too. Who is better at following them?

Materials you will need

  • Your voice

Why does this matter?

As your child is following your instructions they will be learning to listen, work out what you are saying and then do the actions. When you make it more complicated like with ‘run to the swing and then jump to the fence and then crawl to the tree’, your child will be learning to hold several ideas in their head at once.

Being physically active helps your child to develop strong muscles and good coordination.

What does this lead to?

We need to be able to follow instructions in our daily lives. We need instructions to learn how to record a TV program, knit a jumper, make a cake or install a computer program. The more experience that children have with following instructions the easier it will be. Being able to follow instructions also keeps us safe, like crossing a road or during an evacuation.

Having strong muscles and good coordination helps children to move around their environment and when they start to play sports.

Language to use

  • Jump, hop, skip, walk, run, crawl
  • Slide, wobble, shimmy, shake
  • Gate, fence, tree, swing, slide
  • Slowly, quickly, fast, faster
  • Clap, fly, swoop
  • Stop, stand
  • Feet, hands, body

Questions to use

  • Can you walk and wave your arms in the air?
  • How many times can you run around the tree?
  • Can you hop and touch something green?

Useful tips

Remember to talk to your child in your home language.

Variation by age

Birth to two year olds

  • Put some of your baby’s favourite toys around the room and encourage your little one to crawl or toddle over to the toys.

Three to five year olds

  • Make this a colour and shape game by adding them to the instructions. This is good for inside or outside play.

Questions to ask

  • Can you get to your teddy?
  • Where’s the truck?

Questions to ask

  • Can you run to something purple?
  • Can you walk slowly to a round thing?

Language to use

  • Find, look
  • Furry teddy, red truck, big ball

Language to use

  • Red, blue, green, yellow, purple, pink
  • Round, square, long, curved, flat