Beyond teaching reading, writing and all the subjects within the curriculum, teachers also have the vital skill of helping their younger students to develop the fine motor movements and locomotor skills required to be successful both inside and outside of the school environment.

So when it comes to providing children with those vital skills, what can teachers do? Read on to find out more about locomotor skills, and how you can incorporate them into the classroom organically.

What are locomotor skills?

Locomotor skills are what the name implies. According to New Physical Educator, they are the skills that students require as a fundamental part of their physical education, allowing them to develop finer movement and a greater understanding of their self and their space.

Locomotor skills are made up of a variety of different human movement foundations, including:
  • Walking
  • Skipping
  • Leaping
  • Hopping
  • Galloping
  • Sliding
  • Running
  • Hopping

Ordinarily, toddlers and pre-schoolers learn and develop many of these skills as part of their early life, but the ongoing development of locomotor skills is vital to support their motor control. The typical age children learn to walk is at around 1 year, and in their 2nd year, they develop additional skills in running, hopping and jumping. Further skills are developed at age 3 and beyond.

In many cases, locomotor skills are the gateway to more refined leisure and sports activities, including dance, soccer, and football. They provide children with the first steps towards more physical and coordinated actions and illustrate the enjoyment of movement in a variety of different ways.

Each of these skills contributes to providing every child with greater agility, increased confidence and further independence when it comes to their ability to move around their environment and the wider world. In education, teaching these skills can provide valuable physical freedom through both instruction and play.

Teaching locomotor skills in the classroom

While many of the skills required for locomotion are developing by students organically at a young age, by the time those children reach formal schooling, they will still need support in developing greater coordination and understanding of their motor skills. It’s also true that some students may have a better grasp of locomotion skills than others, especially in a class where students with disabilities may be included.

As such, it’s vital that the teaching of locomotion skills is carried over into the classroom and coordinated with parents, to provide students with an optimal learning space in which to develop their skills safely and effectively. Introducing simple games to the gym or physical education sessions can be the ideal way to include locomotion in the curriculum, using play as a way of learning.

For students who struggle with the development of physical skills, these sessions can be invaluable. They can also be a practical way to identify areas of improvement or even of concern in children, which can then be communicated to the early intervention program of the school district if required.

Games for teaching locomotor skills

There are many different resources and options available for teachers considering including locomotor skills in their curriculum.

These are just a few options that are tried-and-tested for use in a classroom setting:

Space Invaders

In this game, students are split into two individual teams. Each team is given a spaceship area, and then a ‘space’ area surrounding the two ships. Each outer space area has ‘meteors’ (represented by balls) which students have to crash into the opposing team’s spaceship. The team with the least-hit ship will win the round.

This game works on the ability for students to accurately throw objects both underhand and overarm at a large target.

Rodeo Roundup

In this game, students are scattered around a playing area known as the prairie. Several students are chosen to play as cowboys or cowgirls and given a lasso represented by a pool noodle. It’s then the cowboy’s job to capture or tag the wild horses, who are played by the rest of the children. ‘Caught’ horses are sent to a ranch by the teacher, where they must demonstrate good galloping skills to return to the wild.

This game tests students on their ability to gallop in what could be considered a consistent and mature pattern over time.

Snow Forts

In this game, students are divided into six individual teams, with four of the group assigned to a base while the remaining two sits on the side. Every team with a base must then create a fort using the resources they are given. Students are then given foam balls which they use to destroy the other teams’ forts. Once the game begins, the two benched groups are assigned to be builders for different forts, providing protected and rebuilding structures. The winner is the last fort standing.

This game tests both the students’ ability to throw at a variety of targets and also their ability to react quickly to specific situations, both vital skills.

For teachers looking for pre-planned games to use in the classroom, The Physical Educator has a range of different complete locomotion-type games to choose from.

With TeacherFunder, implementing the games children need to develop has never been easier. We offer the support educators need to do better for their students. Contact us to find out more about what we do, or take a look at our services online today.