Kick the Cup: Combining Gross Motor & Early Literacy

My two  year old son is what one would call a gross motor kid. He is always moving and loves anything and everything to do with balls. I’ve tried a few activities to introduce letters to him, but have not been able to get him to sit still for more than a couple of minutes.

One day, it hit me. I have to stop working against him and start working with his interests. The first activity we came up with is Kick the Cup. I took 4 plastic cups and wrote one letter of his name on each cup.

We talked about the letters and how it spelled his name. I showed him how to kick the ball towards the cup and jumped up and down excitedly yelling the letter and emphasizing the sound it made in his name.

Jack was much more interested in exploring the cups at first. He tried stacking them and balancing the ball on them. He pretended to drink out of the cups, smacking his lips and saying “yum!” I love this age because you get to see a first glimpse of their imagination.

A friend once told me you always have to have a backup plan when planning activities with young children. Using her advice, I just followed Jack’s lead and used opportunities to talk about letters and sounds as he played and explored.

We experimented with throwing and kicking small and large balls. We even tried throwing cups at one another. Jack had a blast and I felt good that I could sneak in some letter exposure while we spent some quality time together.

We played with the cups for about 20 minutes before he lost interest. I consider this activity a success since he rarely focuses on anything for more than a few minutes at a time.

I’m hoping to try out more activities that combine gross motor with other learning to share with you. In the meantime, what are some gross motor activities that your toddlers love? How do you adapt them to include more learning?

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