Helping children stay physically active is essential to promoting healthy habits that last a lifetime. The aim is to keep the activities fun so young children can figure it out on their own. Outdoor obstacle courses assist with strength and balance, memory and problem-solving skills, sensory processing skills, motor skills and coordination.


There are no rules, but there are some guidelines to help you plan a fun, safe obstacle course for children:

  • Things to jump over, on to or from; tumbling mats are great.
  • Things to crawl under or through. This activity is great for spacial awareness.
  • Something to throw, balls, hoops, beanbags, or old stuffed animals. This activity is a great way to build coordination as a toddler tries to aim and shoot the object.
  • Something wet: If you want giggles, give them a water blaster, water balloons, or even just a water bucket to carry from spot A to spot B.
  • Something that reinforces early learning skills: instructions to create a shape with coloured chalk, drop the blue beanbag in the blue bucket, pick up two sticks, etc. Simple one or two sentence instructions that integrate colours, numbers, letters.
  • Things to balance on. An extra piece of wood in the garden can be a balance beam.

Obstacle course ideas for rainy days or for beautiful sunny days

  • Line up kitchen chairs to make your very own tunnel to crawl through.
  • Crawl under or over a row of chairs.
  • Crawl under a string stretched between two chair legs.
  • Using large brown boxes to make your own tunnel to crawl through.
  • Pool noodles. Have your toddler crawl through the noodles to really work their wrists, elbows, shoulders, and upper back.
  • Using a soft ottoman, encourage crawling over the mountain.
  • Use a step stool to encourage stepping up and down.
  • Make a row of pillows to walk across. Do not fall off the bridge! Walking on pillows is a great way to strengthen ankle muscles.
  • After crossing the “bridge,” climb into your “boat.” This is a fun way to work on balance and coordination.
  • Jump into and out of a Hula Hoop five times.
  • With coloured tape, have your toddler step on as many X’s as he can before crossing the finish line. Place X’s sporadically to encourage side stepping and backward steps.
  • Walk on a balance board or walk the plank on a piece of tape on the ground (rope or a bench would work well)
  • Throw balls or beanbags into the laundry basket
  • Crab walk, bear walk, or wheelbarrow walk.
  • Climbing in and out of buckets
  • Walking, hopping around buckets
  • Stepping around cones
  • Walking between cones, or buckets balancing a beanbag on your head
  • Play hide n’ seek!

Obstacle courses are a great way to have fun and enjoy the experience with your toddler.

Contributed by Desere De Beer of Clamber Club Toddlers – Northcliff