No longer a toddler, three-year-olds are less top-heavy and move with greater sureness. They are more coordinated at running, climbing, and other large-muscle activities. They can ride a tricycle or pump a swing. They can catch a large ball using two hands and their bodies. Improved finger dexterity allows them to put together simple puzzles, use tools, hold crayons with fingers instead of fists, make balls and snakes out of clay and undress without assistance.
Shows increased levels of proficiency, control, and balance in walking, climbing, jumping, hopping, marching and galloping. Can jump off low steps or objects, and climbs stairs with alternating feet, using hand rail for balance. Is able to walk in a line, move quickly around obstacles, run at an even pace, and turn and stop well. Can also walk without watching his or her feet, walks backward, and can gallop with speed.
Can better coordinate balance with the movements of legs and arms to ride a tricycle or pump a swing.
When jumping, has difficulty landing on two feet at the same time.
Stands on one foot unsteadily; watches feet when walking on low balance beam.
Can roll sideways.
Uses a wide base of support when balancing so as to not fall over. Explores the use of different body parts as bases of support (e.g., balances on two elbows and one knee).
Demonstrates increasing ability to coordinate movements in throwing, catching, kicking and bouncing balls.
Catches a large ball with two hands and body.
Kicks a stationary ball so that it travels at least 6 feet forward. Can run to kick a stationary ball.
Typically uses extra movements that are unnecessary for efficiently performing the skill (e.g., throwing, kicking). As a result, one attempt at throwing, kicking or striking a ball doesn't look like another attempt to perform the some movement.
Typically shows genuine excitement about physical activity.
Plays actively and tires easily. Needs brief rest periods between short activity sessions.
Obtains needed physical activity from working on motor skills (e.g., kicking balls) and playing on the playground.
Develops growing strength, dexterity, and control needed to use tools such as scissors, paper punch, stapler, and hammer.
Improves hand-eye coordination in building with blocks, putting together simple puzzles, stringing big beads, using scissors, drawing shapes (e.g., circle), putting large pegs in holes, spreading soft butter with a dull knife and pouring liquids with some spills.
Can hold crayons with fingers instead of the fist.
Undresses without assistance, still needs help getting dressed. Unbuttons skillfully but buttons slowly.
Fatigues easily if much hand coordination is needed.
Manipulates clay by making balls, snakes, etc.
Begins to show a preference for being right-handed or left-handed.
By the end of this year some children begin to use a computer keyboard and mouse but have limited control due to developing hand-eye coordination skills.
Undresses without assistance, but needs help getting dressed with buttons and so on. Can wash hands, brush teeth, and use toilet with growing independence.
Will blow own nose if reminded.
Begins to understand the need for rest and physical activity.
Tries new food on own.
Improves ability to calm oneself.
Can participate actively in games, outdoor play and other forms of exercise that enhance physical fitness.
Builds awareness and ability to follow basic health and safety rules, such as fire safety, traffic and pedestrian safety, and responding appropriately to potentially harmful objects, substances and activities.
Communicates dangerous behavior to another (e.g., "Don't throw sand!").