Crossing midline is something that all of us do everyday without even realizing it. The reason we don’t realize it, is because it has become an integrated movement in our bodies from childhood. Today I am going to share 10 crossing midline exercises for kids.
What is Crossing Midline?
Crossing midline is an important part of development in a child. They need it for reading, writing, and many other important school activities as well as play activities.
What is midline? If you were to draw a line down the middle of your body, starting at the head, that is your midline. Every time you cross that line with either side of your body, that is crossing midline. Crossing midline is a skill that children can learn from infancy.
So what does it look like if your child is having difficulty crossing midline?
- Your child may actually “get stuck” in mid-reach and have to switch hands to continue
- They may compensate by moving their whole trunk to reach toward the opposite side.
Poor mid-line crossing will affect how your child reads (tracking with the eye from left to right) and writes (using their dominate hand across the writing page).
So if your child is demonstrating poor crossing midline skills, or even if they aren’t, here are 10 activities that you can do to encourage crossing midline skills in your children.
10 Crossing Midline Exercises for Kids
- Playing cars on a large path – draw a line on a large piece of paper or make a large path on the floor with blocks for your child to drive their toy cars. Put lots of turns in the path. Encourage your child to just use one hand to drive the car.
- Use large (adult size) paint brushes and/or rollers and let your child paint the sides of the house with water. Encourage using one hand at a time.
- Play flashlight tag
- Wash the car – Encourage your child to use his/her dominant hand and reach in all directions. Wash the windows.
- Practice windmills or cross crawls (hand to opposite foot or hand to opposite knee).
- Wiping the table with one hand (put a light coat of shaving cream all over the table and have your child wipe it off with a wet cloth).
- Practice step and throwing with a water balloon!
- Draw a large figure eight (the number eight facing side to side, not top to bottom) with sidewalk chalk for your child and have them walk the figure eight OR draw the infinity sign and have your child trace it with their finger of their dominant hand.
- Set up squirt gun target practice. Use both hands on the squirt gun to try and knock over cups, wash away chalk etc.
- Water flowers with the garden hose using two hands.
This is a “figure 8” pattern.
Pre-writing Activities for Kids: Crossing Midline Activity
I hope you have been enjoying the Pre-writing Activities for Kids series here on GRB! Last week we looked at the circle shape and a fun pom pom task tray and also a straight lines sensory bin activity the week before that!
Today we are taking a look at the cross shape or + shape. You may think this one would be easy for kids to get if they already know the vertical and horizontal line, but it can be difficult for them if they have problems crossing midline! I explain it a little bit in the video below!
For a quick review, here are the developmental sequence that kids learn pre-writing lines.
- Horizontal Line
- Vertical Line
- Cross shape (+)
- Right/Left Diagonal Line
- X shape
Today’s activity is a quick crossing midline activity, or what I have dubbed the Crossing Midline Parade! Watch the video below to see how to do it and then keep reading for some ideas on how to make this a fun parade!
To make a parade out of this activity you can give your child some musical instruments such as tambourines (We love our Melissa & Doug music set for things like this) or straight long wooden sticks, like from the HandWriting Without Tears Wood Pieces Set for Capital Letters. You can use masking tape or colored painters tape on the floor to lay out the parade route.
The parade route is going to be in the shape of the cross shape! So they are getting the practice of crossing midline in a gross motor movement as well as feeling the cross shape with their entire body. Here is how it should look on the floor.
Cross shapes always start with the vertical line first, so when starting this parade route you will want to make a start point at the top and then an end point with the line across, or the horizontal line. You can mark the cross shape on the ground with painters tape or some type of tape that will come up easily and not leave marks.
You can also do the dashed lines with small pieces of the tape to give the child a visual on where to go next. Also make sure they always start the horizontal line from the left to the right. This is exactly how they will write it with a pencil so you want them to do the same thing in a gross motor way so they can get use to that shape with their bodies.
Then start some fun music, give them the musical instruments if it won’t distract them, and have them start marching and doing the crossing midline exercise I showed in the video at the top! You can also have them do a little chant, something like this: “Cross shapes rock! One line down, one line across!” You could also add in following directions by asking them to march when the music is playing and then stop when the music stops.
There are lots of things you can do to adapt this activity, if you have other ideas let me know in the comments below!!
- Last week I started a new series on Pre-writing Activities for Kids! I also shared an activity for the pre-writing stroke with a straight lines sensory bin!For a quick review, here are the pre-writing strokes that children learn in a developmental sequence:
- Vertical line
- Horizontal line
- Cross shape (+)
- Right/Left Diagonal Line
- X shape
Today we are moving on to the circle shape with a fun pom pom task tray that can be adapted for kids of all ages!
Items Needed for Pom Pom Task Tray
- Colored craft pom poms
- Glass/plastic jar with lid (I used a left over pickle jar)
- Task Tray
- Medium size bowl (I used a mixing bowl from the kitchen)
- Small tablespoon or other small mixing spoons (optional)
This activity is very easy to set up. Simply put the task tray on the floor or small child size table with the jar and mixing bowl on it. Place the pom poms in one of the containers and let your child explore by transferring items back and forth between the two jars. You can provide them with the mixing spoons or small fine motor tongs or chop sticks.
Since my daughter is 17 months, I just gave her a tablespoon size measuring spoon and also let her use her fingers. This is great practice for developing a good pincer grasp.
She spent a good 30 minutes with this activity, putting the pom poms back and forth between the two containers. I would suggest whatever container you use for the 2nd container make sure the opening to it is smaller than the 1st. If you have an older child you can use a container with an even smaller opening, this will give them a challenge in fine motor skills practice and eye hand coordination.
Also, if you think your little one will put the smaller size pom poms in their mouth, please use larger sized ones. Also do not leave your child unattended during this activity at all.
During this activity, I talked to my daughter about circles, showing her that the pom poms were circles, the rims of the bowls and spoons are circles, even the apples on the task tray. I also used the wording “start at the top, circle around, stop” when tracing the circle shapes with my finger. This is the same wording I use when teaching how to draw or trace a circle for older kids, so it is good repetition.
For an older child who is learning to trace pre-writing lines you can provide them with some paper and crayons after this activity and have them practice making circle shapes. For children ages 2-3, just having circular motions on paper is age appropriate, ages 3-4 will start to perfect making an actual circle with start and stop points.
Skills used in the Pom Pom Task Tray Pre-writing Activity
- Eye Hand Coordination
- Fine motor skills (hand strength, pincer grasp, proper grasp on writing utensils if you are using the tongs or chop sticks).
- Pre-writing skills (exposure to various circle shapes in different environments and every day items)
Here are my other activities in the Pre-Writing Activities for Kids Series
- Straight Lines Sensory Bin
This activity is included in my new hands on Basic Shapes for Beginners unit study for preschoolers ebook, coming soon! To stay updated on this new product I will be offering, you can sign up for my newsletter! I send it out twice a month and you will also get a free subscriber printable when you do “50 Fine Motor Activities for Children 3 Years old and Under.”
- I am sharing a Fall Tree Decorating Craft which is perfect for fine motor skill practice or a fun fallscooter board activity. I used an activity similar to this one a lot when I worked with special needs children as an Occupational Therapy Assistant in the schools.What is great about it is that you can use the tree trunk over and over again for other fall fine motor activities or just switch out the decorations to use for a winter project or activity. There are free printables for the tree trunk and leaves with color and black and white versions available!
What You Will Need for Fall Tree Decorating Craft for Fine Motor Skills
- Tree Trunk Printable (scroll to the bottom of this website to grab the free printable)
- Fall Tree Leaves Printable (scroll to the bottom of this website to grab the free printable)
- Construction Paper or Scrap Book Paper
- Print out the tree trunk and fall leaves printables. I used the color option, but you could use the b/w option and then have your child color them, great time to practice proper hand grasp on their crayons and also visual motor skills of staying inside the coloring lines.
- Cut out each shape and the tree trunk. I cut along the lines on the base of the trunk and then just cut in a large circle around the branches, leaving some white paper. If your child needs a visual for cutting simply take a yellow highlighter and draw a circle around each leaf and the tree trunk so they can see where to cut.
- Cut a strip of velcro in half and then cut it into small squares. If your child is a good cutter, you can have them do this part. If they are young and inexperienced however, you will want to do this. You could also use velcro dots instead.
- Use glue or mounting strips to place the tree onto a piece of construction paper or scrap book paper. I like using the scrap book paper since it is sturdier.
- Put a piece of velcro on the back of each leaf, then place another piece of velcro onto of that piece.
- Place the leaves velcro side down where you want them on the tree.
- Once you have all the leaves where you want them, then you can take them off, but leaving the velcro spots on the tree trunk.
Scooter Board Activity Using Fall Tree Decoration Craft
For the scooter board activity, you will need a small scooter board like this one below. I purchased this on Amazon for under $20.
Hang the tree trunk on a wall in a room with enough area to ride on the scooter board.
Have your leaf pieces, the scooter board and the child on an opposite side of the room. Have the child get stomach down on the scooter board and give them one leaf.
Then they push themselves on the scooter board over to the tree trunk on the wall and place one of the leaves on a piece a velcro, then scoot themselves back to you to get another leaf. You can have some fun music in the background as well.
I did this scooter board activity with my kiddos in Occupational Therapy all the time, they loved it!!
Skills Used in Fall Tree Decorating Craft and Scooter Board Activity
- Cutting skills (remember to have them use a thumbs up position on the scissors and paper)
- Hand grip strength (coloring, scissors)
- Proper Hand Grasp (on crayons, refer to my age appropriate hand grasps post)
- Eye-Hand Coordination (placing velcro on leaves and tree trunk)
- Visual Motor Skills (coloring, using scooter board activity)
- Trunk strength/tummy time (if using the scooter board activity)
- Bilateral Coordination (scissors, coloring, scooter board activity)
- I love using scooter boards in Occupational Therapy. Not only are scooter boards great for bilateral coordination, crossing midline skills, eye hand coordination and more in kids with special needs, scooter board activities for kids in general are a fun and easy way to work on some great skills.
Items needed for Scooter Board Activity for Kids: Winter Themed
Suggested age for this activity is 3 years or older.
- A scooter board for each child ($19.99 on Amazon if you don’t have one)
- A large enough room or space for them to move in (I used the hallway or gym in school)
- A tree trunk printable (I used one from DLTK-Holidays – scroll to the bottom of this link to print out the template)
- Snow flake printable HERE or HERE (I used one from DLTK-Holidays – scroll down to the bottom of each link to print out the template. Each printable has one snow flake each, so you will need multiple copies).
- Velcro dots or regular velcro
Print off your snow flake and tree trunk printables (links above). Then have the kids color the tree brown and cut it out (you may need to help with this part, it might be too difficult for some to cut out). You don’t have to have them color the snow flakes, leave them white. Or you could have them color them light blue if you wanted.
Place velcro on the back of each snow flake and tree trunk and then place corresponding sides of velcro to your wall. If you don’t want the velcro to touch a wall, you could put them on a piece of construction paper and then tape the paper to the wall.
Take all your snow flakes to one side of the room and have your child get on the scooter board, tummy down. DO NOT let them sit or stand on it. They must stay on their tummy for the entire activity. Give them one snow flake and have them push off on the scooter board over to the other side of the room where the velcro is and the tree. You could also have them put the tree up themselves if you want, or just the snow flakes. Once the snow flake is up, then have them scoot back over to you to get another snow flake. Continue until all the items are up on the wall.
What to Look For: You are looking for them to use all parts of their bodies together in order to move the scooter board. You don’t want to see them using just one side of their body, or only their hands, or only their feet to move on the scooter board. Most of my kids used either their left side only, or their right side only to scoot and had trouble coordinating both sides together. It should look like an army crawl while on the scooter board. Make sure they are also positioned correctly. Their belly button should be on the middle of the board, with the handles of the board on the sides of their body.
Grade Up the Activity: Add obstacles in the way that they have to maneuver around with thescooter board, while still holding on to the snow flake. You can also give them more snow flakes at a time and make the space they have to move across longer. You could also hide the snow flakes on one side of the room and they have to maneuver the scooter board around to find them and then take them to the opposite side of the room to place them around the tree.
Grade Down the Activity: Have the tree already up on the wall and 1 or 2 snow flakes around it as a model. You may also need to physically assist them or give them a model of how you want them to move on the scooter board. Do not have any obstacles in their way. You could also make the amount of space that they have to scoot across shorter.
Benefits of Scooter Board Activities for Kids:
- Core strength through tummy time – If you child doesn’t like laying on their stomach, this is a great way to get them to do it while doing something fun and not even realizing they are working on their tummy time.
- Eye-hand coordination – They are visually working towards a target while using their arms and legs to get to that destination. Then they must place an item to a designated spot on the wall.
- Bilateral Coordination – Using both sides of their bodies and also bottom and top parts of their bodies together to reach their goal. Also with scissors skills when cutting the snow flakes or tree trunk out.
- Gross Motor Skills – Strength and endurance, trunk strength and stability.
- Fine Motor Skills – Coloring skills (staying inside the coloring line), scissor skills (staying within 1/4-1/2″ of the cutting line depending on their age.). Using proper hand grasp with writing utensils to color (Refer to my Age Appropriate Hand Grasps post for details).
- Today’s scooter board activity for kids is a fun one; an obstacle course relay. This idea came from Christi, a Physical Therapy Assistant I co-treat with on Wednesdays. It actually wasn’t our plan for the day, but we lost our room to a classroom needing to use it, so we ended up in a resource room and hallway for the day.So Christi came up with this idea that she use to use a lot in one of her other buildings. We added a fine motor component to it so that the kids could benefit from both therapies at once.
Items for this activity:
- Scooter board
- Color Floor Dots
- Foam balance beam
- Dry Erase marker
Directions for Activity:
- This activity can be done with multiple children and done as many times as you like. We had each child go through it 2 to 3 times.
- Set up your course as pictured above – foam balance beam, floor color dots, scooter board, and then leave a large space in between the scooter board and white board on the floor. (Pictured below)
- Give the first child the dry erase marker to hold and start them on the balance beam. They should use a reciprocal gate on the beam (one foot in font of the other). This size board allowed for 4 steps.
- Next, jump onto each color floor dot using two feet and bending at the knees.
- Lay on tummy on the scooter board and use arms and feet to push to the white board on the floor. They should be using bilateral movements (both sides of the body and lower and upper board together – will look like an army crawl).
- While laying on the scooter board, have them write their name on the top of the white board. Make sure they use proper grasp (2 or 3 finger grasp). Be sure they form the letters correctly (top to bottom formations), letters spaced appropriately and on the writing line. Have them erase and start over if they do not do this correctly.
- Have them turn around on the scooter board and go back to where the floor dots start.
- Stand up and jump on each colored floor dot with two feet together, bending at the knees (no straight knees while jumping!)
- Walk on the balance beam with reciprocal gate (one foot in front of the other) about 4 steps.
- Hand off the dry erase marker to the next child and continue. (If working with multiple children, you will need more than one white board).
If you are working with just one child, have them continue the course until they have written two sentences under their name. For example, one of my children we did this with wrote “I like Hannah Montana.” Make sure they use correct spacing (index finger for a visual if needed), line orientation, and a period at the end. Have them start over and re-do if anything is not done correctly.
I found these white boards in the dollar isle at Target. So check your local Target to see if they have them. I bought four.
Grading Activity Up:
- Add more components to the course. For example, after writing, they could continue on the scooter board to a throwing station and practice ball skills throwing at a target.
- Increase the amount of turns each child takes to one or two.
- Increase the amount they need to write.
Grading Activity Down:
- Decrease the components to maybe one or two items, such as balance beam, to scooter board, to writing.
- Decrease the amount of turns each child takes to 1 or 2.
- When working with preschoolers, only ask them to write their name and then work on pre-writing lines such a vertical, horizontal lines, circles and cross shapes. Do not ask them to write sentences, this is not age appropriate.
Skills worked on:
- Fine Motor Skills/Handwriting
- Bilateral Coordination (using both sides and top/bottom of body together – scooter board)
- Balance (Balance beam)
- Jumping Skills
- Visual Motor Skills
All Picture Source