Promoting Physical Activity and Fundamental Movement Skills in Children

Fundamental movement skills are the building blocks of physical movement. They involve a specific set of gross motor movements that involve different body parts such as the feet, legs, trunk, hands, arms and head, and are essential for children’s participation in sport and physical activity throughout their lifespan. Children may not master the fundamental movement skills until they reach school age, however opportunities for practice are essential in the early years.  

What are the types of fundamental movement skills? They are broadly categorised into three groups:

  1. Locomotor skills – Movement from one place to another. They begin at birth and develop from floor play to build muscular strength e.g. rolling, crawling, walking
  2. Manipulative skills – Using movement to give force or receive from an object, whilst trying to maintain control. As children advance, they will move from big objects (e.g catching balls) to finer objects (e.g. writing with pencils).
  3. Stability skills – The body is fixed into a position whilst it attempts to move on its vertical and horizontal axis e.g. rotating and balancing.

To help develop and fine-tune these skills, you can participate with your child in activities like these at home: 

  • running e.g. traffic lights, relays, chases (locomotive)
  • jumping e.g. animal jumps, hot lava games, hurdles (locomotive)
  • hopping e.g. hopscotch (locomotive)
  • dodging e.g. tail chases with scarves (locomotive)
  • hanging upside down (stability)
  • walking on a line (stability)
  • spinning inside a stationary circle or hoop (stability)
  • musical statues (stability)
  • rolling down a hill (stability)
  • lying on a swiss ball (stability)
  • rides in a washing basket (stability)
  • wheelbarrow races with legs (stability)
  • overarm throwing on targets (manipulative)
  • bean bag and coin toss (manipulative)
  • catching balls and toys (manipulative)
  • popping bubbles (manipulative)
  • bouncing a ball between non-dominant and dominant hand (manipulative)
  • striking a balloon with an instrument (manipulative)
  • kicking balls at a target (manipulative)


Want to watch each fundamental movement skill in action? Here are some helpful videos.