Overview: The physical learning domain is all about physical development. That includes the fine motor, gross motor, and physical growth of your child.
Growing up I was always the kid that would rather cuddle up with a stuffed animal and read. I would venture outside to swing or do cartwheels every once in a while, but I wasn’t really an active child.
Sicily on the other hand LOVES being outside and active. She’s learning how to go down a slide and push herself on her scooting ice cream truck.
Physical development is just as important as language and cognitive development. I believe we get caught up in the fact that kids must know their letters and numbers before Kindergarten and forget about the physical development of their kids. With today’s technology, it’s even harder to get kids outside to run around.
What is Physical Development?
The physical domain consists of 3 parts: fine motor, gross motor, and physical growth.
Related: An Overview of the Learning Domains
Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor development is all about the small muscles in our bodies, particularly our hands. Developing fine motor skills as a toddler is super important in preparing kids to write. In Tot School, we focus most of our learning on fine motor skills.
We work on pinching, grasping, scribbling, building, turning pages, and putting small objects in containers. We use kitchen utensils and sensory bins to practice scooping, transferring, and pouring. All of these skills are vital to living a successful life. They are the basics.
Related: The Toddler Experience: A Hands-On Toddler Curriculum
Gross Motor Skills
Gross motor is all about the large muscles in our bodies, basically our arms and legs. As young toddlers, children are working on walking and running. Some may be working on rolling and throwing a ball. As they get older, they define these large muscles with galloping, throwing, climbing, skipping, jumping, and catching. Preschoolers should be learning how to pedal a bike, hop, and balance on one foot.
Physical growth is helping your child develop a healthy lifestyle. Children should be getting nutrient dense foods everyday. They need fruits, vegetables, protein, and carbs in their everyday diet. A good diet helps them grow “big and strong” which is what I tell Sicily when she refuses to eat.
Exercise and working on those gross motor skills helps them stay physically fit. Part of physical growth is teaching your child how to live a healthy life style. Be a good role model, but also teach the skills to be healthy. These skills fit nicely into an All About Me theme.
Physical Development Red Flags
Red flags are in place to signal that their may be a problem. I am not a doctor and am relaying information based on my credentials as an early childhood educator. If you notice a red flag, it does not necessarily mean that your child has an issue, but it would be a good idea to bring it up with your pediatrician.
-No head control by 4 months old
-Cannot sit without support by 7 months old
-Does not reach for objects by 6 months old
-Does not walk by 15 months old
-Does not run by 2 years old
-Unable to walk with heels down 4 months after they start to walk
-Frequently falls after 2 years old
-Cannot jump by age 2
-Cannot correctly hold writing utensils by age 4
Everyday Activities to Promote Physical Development
Anything that gets your child working their muscles is good for their physical development. Here are my top 7 favorite physical development activities.
The pom-pom push is one of Sicily’s favorite Tot School activities. This is the first activity that has help her attention for more than 2 minutes. She loves pushing the different pom-poms through the tiny hole. She has learned that if she wants all the pom-poms to fit nicely, she has to put the small ones in first then the big ones. We use a paint cup and lid, but any box or container with a small hole will work.
Related: How to Plan for a Child Led Tot School
Her second favorite activity that tends to hold her attention for a while is putting coins in a piggy bank. We have a toy piggy bank and a real one. She prefers to put real coins in the real piggy bank because of the noise it makes. When she’s done she will pick it up and shake it.
We LOVE sensory bins. Our goal is to play with a sensory bin at least 3 times a week. Anything we can think of goes into that bin. The messier we get the more fun we have!
But sensory bins are more than just fun, they are great for practicing fine motor skills. Add spoons, ladles, cups, spatulas, and whatever else comes to mind. These tools are great for practicing scooping, transferring, and pouring.
As an adult, I love yoga. But yoga is also great for kids. Not only is it a wonderful gross motor activity, it helps in stressful situations, transitions, and whenever you need a few minutes of peace. If you go to Pinterest and search yoga for kids you will get tons of different poses. I have even found some posts with theme specific poses!
Dancing is an all time favorite at our house. Sicily loves to shake her little booty, and it doesn’t matter what type of music we are listening to either. I’ve caught her dancing like a mad woman to Mozart.
Choosy CD’s are the BEST for rainy days. I used them when I taught preschool and my students asked for them daily. I haven’t bought them for Sicily yet because she is a little too young, but I plan on doing it very soon.
There are a lot of Choosy CD’s, but my favorite are Choosy Kids, This is My Body, and I’m Moving I’m Learning. Between these three CD’s you can find songs that break down those hard gross motor skills like skipping, galloping, and sliding.
They literally break down every little movement to help kids learn how to do these skills. I also like I Can Fly which is a song that gets kids using their imagination and fly in different air transportation. The Stir the Soup songs were my students favorite songs.
Playing with different types of balls is another great gross motor activity. Even just rolling a ball on the floor with a toddler helps develop those waist and arm muscles. Use different types of balls too. Using balls with different weight and shape develops different muscles.
Remember, physical development is all about movin’ and groovin’ every muscle, big and small. Click the image below to download my learning domains milestone checklist for ages 1-5.