Obstacle Course

Goal
To develop a wide variety of large motor skills. In building the course the child can practice bringing ideas to fruition, discussing with collaborators, moving heavy objects, and most importantly: having fun!

Materials
Inside: Pillows/couch cushions to climb over or bounce into, blankets or sheets draped between chairs to form a tunnel, taped lines on the floor for balancing and changing directions, taped jump boxes on the floor, balance beams, and more.

Outside: Buckets (upside down to step on or jump over) balance beams (DIY), tires, wooden ladder lay horizontal, trampoline, kiddie pool filled with water or sand,cardboard squares, hula hoops, pool noodles, rope or pvc pipe (to jump over. 2 parallel ropes can become ‘jump the river’) objects to jump over, tree trunk sections, and more.

Steps
1.Collect your materials, build the obstacle course, and test it. You can build it collaboratively with the child, including discussing the safety of each component.
2.Demonstrate a “demo run” of the course. Do this non-verbally if possible so they can focus on watching and absorbing your movements.
3.Ask them to stand at the starting line (tape, string, cone, etc.) and tell them what the signal for starting is. It could be a tap on their shoulder, a countdown from 5, a silly noise – it doesn’t matter as long as it’s clear to them.
4.Go!
5.After you’ve run the course a few times they may want to modify it and will probably have ideas. This is where you can follow their lead while keeping safety in mind.

Comments
Make sure that it is safe – especially if you are inside. Test the strength of all the parts of the obstacle course before the children try it. Only have 1 child go at a time or stagger it so there is no overlap. Keep the atmosphere fun and non competitive.

Tips
Get creative with your objects. It doesn’t have to be fancy. At school we simply use tires, crates, cones, rope, and “River Stones”(these are a product for purchase, but you can create safe steppers for your children) and they love it. This is a project you can do variation after variation of.

Add challenges:

  • Add bells to portions of the course. Try to get through without ringing the bell
  • Use a timer. Try to beat your previous time. Take an average of all your times. Make a chart of your times.
  • Balance a lemon on a spoon or a book on your head between two parts of the course.
  • Carry something heavy through the course like a backpack full of books.
  • Do animal walks (crab, bear, snake, etc.)
  • Add flashcard stations. When you arrive, pick a card and say the sight word, letter sound, number, etc.

Great time to practice sharing ideas, discussion, negotiation, limitations, ingenuity, etc.
Share a photo or video to friends and teachers. #athenaobstaclecourse – you may inspire another family or see an idea you hadn’t thought of!