Joey School

6 Outdoor Activities to Teach Gross Motor Skills

6 Outdoor Activities to Teach Gross Motor Skills

Beach balls are our favorite toy to teach gross motor skills to preschoolers. They are light and easy to throw, catch, kick, and bounce. Best of all, preschoolers love them and very rarely get hurt.

When using beach balls we start by teaching beach ball basics, then practice the basic skills by playing games. In this article we will outline how to teach beach ball basics and some fun games you can play to help preschoolers improve their gross motor skills!

Beach Ball Basics

Start out by showing your preschooler how to do the following gross motor skills with the ball. Spend 2-3 minutes practicing each skill.  

  • Throw the ball in the air and catch
  • Throw the ball to a partner and catch
  • Kick the ball to a partner
  • Walk while kicking the ball. Put the ball in a mesh laundry bag and have your preschooler hold the string while kicking the ball (this will keep the ball from rolling away too far)
  • Jump over the beach ball (make sure you are on the grass or a soft surface)  

Next, play Beach Ball Simon Says to give them a chance to practice their new skills. We’ve included a script you can follow with your preschooler for this one!

Beach Ball Simon Says: 

Now we are going to play a game of beach ball Simon Says. To play, you will only do what I say if I say, Simon Says, if I don’t say Simon says then you hold the ball. 

Simon Calls:  

Simon says throw the ball and catch it

Simon says walk while kicking the ball

Kick the ball to me (Simon didn’t say) 


Simon says jump over the beach ball

Simon says throw the ball to me

Throw the ball in the air and catch it (Simon didn’t say)  


Simon says walk and kick the ball

Simon says throw the ball in the air and catch it

Simon says throw the ball to me (throw it back to your child)  

Jump over the beach ball (Simon didn't say)  

Other fun games to play with a beach ball

Towel Toss

Supplies: Beach ball, towel

Partner children together and give them a towel. Each person holds the end of the towel. Put the beach ball in the middle of the towel and toss it into the air and catch it. See how high you can get the beach ball without dropping it.  


Supplies: Beach ball and a soccer goal made from two cones or other items

Set up a goal with two cones or other items. Have children take turns kicking the ball through the goal. As they improve, move the kick line further back!  


Supplies: Beach ball

Challenge preschoolers to move from a starting point to an ending point doing the following motions with the beach ball.  

  • Kicking it in a mesh laundry bag
  • Holding arms out straight and balancing the beach ball in their hands
  • Holding the beach ball between their legs and walking
  • Take a step, throw and catch, take another step, throw and catch until they reach the finish line (don’t move while throwing, we don't want anyone to trip)!
  • Throw the ball at a hanging pie plate or through a hula hoop

Kick Ball

Supplies: Beach ball, paper plates or baseball bases

Set up four paper plates in a diamond for home plate, first, second and third bases. Play kick ball by rolling the ball to your child. Make it easier or more difficult by varying the speed of the roll (if rolling the ball is too difficult set it next to them. When they kick the ball let them run around all the bases but pretend to try to catch them. Every kick is a home run! For older kids or more competitive preschoolers, try to actually catch them to tag them out!  

Water Blaster Soccer

Supplies: Water blaster, beach ball, bucket of water, chalk

Prep: Prep the supplies and set them up outside on a smooth surface (a driveway). Draw a rectangle “goal” with chalk some distance from the starting point (make it an achievable distance but not too easy).

How to Play:

Tell your child you will be learning a game with the water blaster, and they will only be shooting at a ball. If you are ok getting wet, let them know when that time will be. Show your child how to dip the water blaster in the bucket of water, then pull up on the handle to suck up water. Demonstrate how to slowly move the beach ball by shooting at it with the water blaster. Tell them to try to get their ball in the goal only using water to move it! 

We hope you have fun teaching your preschooler new skills and having fun with a beach ball!