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  • Writer's pictureVicki Manning

The best toys for developing gross motor skills

Gross motor skills are the whole body movements that are used in active physical play - they are so important for coordination, control and balance. I wanted to share with you some of our favourite toys for developing these skills - all of which have been tried, tested and loved by my boys!


We love these colourful stepping stones from Gonge. They're perfect for developing balance and spatial awareness, plus they're super handy for getting active on rainy days. The stacking set is made from durable plastic with rubber bottoms so sticks to floors well; we've tried them on carpets too and they stay put. Mr 2 & 6 like to play stepping stones and the whole family often joins in with the classic 'floor is lava'. We're saving for the 'hill tops' extension pack with even higher stones, and can't wait to take them outside in the summer.


I'd always wanted a Pikler climbing frame but I was worried about storage space. When number three came along and was a relentless climber, I was delighted to find this folding version from Brubi. He climbs on it every day, and on cold days we chuck a blanket over for a brilliant den that Mr 6 joins him in. I love that there is a lower setting for babies so it adapts as your little one grows.


Designed for ages 1 - 3 yrs, the Scuttlebug is perfect as a first ride-on toy and comes in four vibrant colours. It's easy to manoeuvre, so great for little legs. I love that it folds flat for taking out and about; you can just pop it under the buggy or even carry it with one hand it's so lightweight!


Don't let the simplicity of these colourful rings from Gonge fool you - they are so versatile - we've used them for hoopla, rolling, colour sorting, catch... Mr 2 even likes putting them on people's heads as crazy hats! Our favourite way to play with them is to make them part of an assault course; the boys have to step in one at a time (like a tyre on an army course!). They are made from solid silicone so are safe from birth and work both indoors and out.


This is such a classic, and with good reason, we bought ours 10 years ago when our first was born and it's still going strong - in fact it's the first thing Mr 2 makes a beeline for whenever he's in the garden. The Little Tykes rocking horse can be used indoors and out, but we keep ours in the garden - it's super durable so has been exposed to all weathers but is still good as new.


This wheelbarrow by Rolly Toys is perfect for encouraging walking in toddlers, it helps teach balance, and it's so much fun transporting things around the garden! Mr 2 has recently used it for collecting snow, stones, toy animals, grass cuttings... and in the summer he likes to fill it with water so he can water the plants. I like the fact that it's made from metal so it won't perish or break like the plastic ones.


We love the Mini Micro Scooter in this house - they may be a bit pricier than other scooters on the market, but they're such quality it's worth the investment. Easy to master, they can be used pretty much from 18m and up (manufacturer recommends age 2+). The tilt function means to steer you just need to lean, and there's a chunky brake mounted on the back. They can also be customised with a range of accessories. Don't forget to add a helmet!


We love our caterpillar tunnel by Tumble Tots - you can use it with or without its face, it folds flat for storage and has its own carry bag. We tend to get ours out in the summer for obstacle courses but it's also ideal for rainy day fun indoors. Crawling through tunnels helps with spatial awareness, depth perception as well as strengthening arm and leg muscles.


Little ones love to copy grown-ups, and having a mini broom set on hand when mummy/daddy are cleaning not only makes them feel included but gives them a chance to develop their bilateral co-ordination. Mr 2 is a big fan of this set by Vileda as it's identical to what we use at home.


The Boppi Wiggle Car is such a fun way to develop fine motor skills! To move it forward you wiggle the steering wheel back and forth, so it's brilliant for developing upper body strength. I have fond memories of numbers one and two riding ours in tandem when they were small enough - they used to end up in fits of giggles!

What are your favourite toys for gross motor skills? Message me or comment below!

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Text is copyright howweplayandlearn/Vicki Manning unless otherwise stated - this article or any portion thereof is not to be reproduced without express written consent.


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