Animal Walking: Building Strength, Balance, and Coordination
By Nicole Campbell, PT, DPT
Kids Place West Pediatric Physical Therapist
Gross motor skills are an important aspect of child development. When participating in gross motor activities, children are able to release their energy in addition to building strength. A fun and easy way to incorporate gross motor activities into household play is through “Animal Walking.” Some of the most common include: Bear Walking, Crab Walking, Duck Walking, Frog Jumping, and Ostrich Walking.
Bear Walking: From a standing position, bend over and place both hands on the ground (do not let your knees touch the ground). Walk forward with your right hand and right foot at the same time, followed by your left hand and left foot at the same time. And keep going!
Crab Walking: From sitting, place your hands on the ground behind you and your feet on the ground in front of you. Lift and hold your bottom off the ground and walk sideways with your hands and feet, not allowing your bottom to touch the ground.
Duck Walking: From standing, place your hands on your hips and squat down. Walk forward while staying in the squat position.
Frog Jumping: From squatting, place your hands on the ground between your knees. Jump up and forward, landing with your feet on the ground and your hands on the ground between your knees.
Ostrich walking: From standing, lean forward and grab your ankles with your hands. Walk forward while keeping your hands around your ankles.
Does your child want a snack? Have them Animal Walk to the kitchen. Does your child like puzzles? Place the puzzle pieces on one side of the room and have them Animal Walk to the other side of the room to build the puzzle, bringing a couple puzzle pieces each trip. The possibilities are endless!
Animal Walks are a good way to provide sensory input and incorporate “heavy work” at home to help kids release their wiggles and improve attention. Let your child use their imagination and make up their own “Animal Walk” (e.g. snake, elephant, etc.). Any Animal Walk can help build strength, balance, and coordination while also having fun.
Let the Animal Walking begin!