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