Keep Kids Active with Homemade Obstacle Courses
Are you already planning on a sports scholarship to get your little ones into an Ivy League school? Or do you just want to add a little more exercise to improve those gross motor skills?
With all the time spent sitting in a high chair or a classroom, immobilized in a car seat, or watching a favorite show, kiddos could definitely benefit from a little extra movement.
Whether you assemble them indoors or out, homemade obstacle courses will get the kids moving, building, and strengthening their little bodies. They’re creative and temporary so that you can modify them to keep your kids engaged with new formations. Or challenge their bodies with more difficult set ups.
You won’t be shelling out for high-priced play structures that destroy the garden...or that grow stale over time. Best of all, your kids will be exercising right at home. So no need to shuttle them around town or wait in the sidelines while dinner preparations get pushed off by an hour.
Here are a few tips for putting together your own homemade obstacle courses and getting those kids fit!
Assemble Your Materials
First thing’s first: you need to gather together a bunch of interesting objects that get your kids hopping, crawling, reaching, high-stepping, and moving all around.
You probably already have a whole host of amazing objects to use. A row of chairs placed in a line gets kids down on their tummies, doing the soldier crawl. Or place the chairs farther apart and have kids walk from seat to seat like stepping-stones across a stream.
Use a broomstick across two side tables for kids to pass under, limbo-style. Make a tunnel out of your largest Amazon boxes. Or five-gallon water bottles for a balancing act.
Even masking tape is great! Just string it around diagonally to and fro across a narrow hallway. Kids can pretend-play getting through a maze of laser security sensors. Your little cat woman or boy wonder will have a blast!
Don’t Overlook the Playroom
Kids’ toys make for great obstacles too. A row of hula-hoops is great for jumping through, like a wild tiger at the circus. Baseball bats and batons can be placed at varying heights horizontally, one right after another, to make children step over and climb under.
Is your child a princess, a Star Wars fan, or an animal lover? Incorporate their stuffed animals, dolls, or figurines for greater fun! Damsels in distress, like her favorite Elsa doll, need to be saved from high-up shelves. Enemy light sabers have to be dodged. And a pile of stuffed reptilians makes a great swamp to be jumped. So get creative and think like a child!
If you’re precious about your objects, invest in purpose-made instead
If you’d rather keep the kids from jumping on your couches – or you just don’t have the time or the energy to look for the perfect pieces, you can always purchase items for your at-home obstacle course.
Easy to fold and store, pop-up tunnels are great too. Balance boards and balance disks are nice additions. And plastic directional arrows get kids pivoting on the spot. Add in a ring toss or have them shoot a hoop just after a crucial jump for precision.
Building It Out
So you’ve assembled your materials. Now it’s time to build it out. Keep in mind: you’re going to want the kids to complete many different activities in a series. You want them to get on all fours, go straight into a jump, plant their feet, reach up high and so on. Diversity is key here.
Build it High and Build it Low
Don’t repeat similar actions in a row. If you have kids balancing as they step from chair to chair, follow that with a tunnel so they’re down on their tummies and using their upper body. If you have the kids jumping over hurdles or dodging obstacles, immediately follow that with a precise catching or throwing action that requires quick control over their bodies.
Keep it Fresh
Since your obstacle course if temporary, get creative! (And maybe even let the kids join in.) You don’t want this activity to feel routine, or to be a chore. So you’re going to need to shake things up a bit.
Add new items or use the old ones in novel formations. Stack up books to get them jumping one week, and make it buckets another.
Or take your inside obstacle course, outside. Include some of the natural elements you have in your garden. A short, narrow wall is great for balancing. The lawn might be hot lava and stepping-stones or paper plates the only safe spots to walk. Or you just might have a tire swing or a trampoline looking for a new purpose.
Challenge for Improvement
Once you’ve piqued the kid’s interest, start challenging them. That means setting specific goals. If you’re working on speed, time your little ones and have them try to beat their record. Want to hone in on coordination? Film them on your phone and play back. They’ll be better able to see areas for improvement and visualize how to tackle it the next time around.
What are some fun and unique ways you get kids moving at home? Share with us!
String course via Ashley Ann Photography. Pool noodle course via Home School Creations.
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