Summer is upon us! Your kids may be starting to get a little antsy, especially with summer vacation right around the corner.
If you want to get to get your kids to “spend” energy on physical activity without “spending” too much money, try creating your own children’s obstacle course.
It’s easier than you think – and will also help teach the little ones some valuable lessons along the way, like the importance of recycling, saving money, and staying active!
I have designed an obstacle course only using equipment I could find at my house – whether it was stuff I already owned, or things I could recycle and reuse.
Corey’s Obstacle Course
- Crab Walk for 5-10 Yards
- Using cardboard boxes 12” x 12” (any size that a child can hop in and out of alternating feet) cut in half. The child steps into anywhere from 2-6 boxes alternating feet moving forward.
- Run 15 yards to a cone, changing direction, go backwards to a second cone.
- Switch directions again, running forward 10-15 yards through a gate (two cones on the ground).
- Using an agility ladder, or 5-10 squares taped at 12” x 12” in a row, the child hops in and out of the ladder steps moving feet together and away from each other as he or she moves forward.
- Child walks a “tight-rope,” for approximately 10-15 feet. It can be rope or also could be tape (curved tight rope for added difficulty).
- Finish with a 10-15 yard run to the finish line (add a cardboard box to jump over at the end for added difficulty)
Once you get started with this course, you can try others. Here are tips to keep in mind as you build a great obstacle course:
- Create an obstacle course that is doable. Make it easy enough to complete, but not so hard that it may discourage the child. You can always find ways to make it tougher and more challenging.
- Try and utilize all of your items, from things you already own, or can recycle. For example: cardboard is great for creating tunnels, or obstacles to jump over, or into; shoes, boots and t-shirts are great items to use to designate gates that one needs to run around or through.
- Build obstacles that the child may be doing already in sports or clubs. For example, create a tight rope using plastic wire or rope, something the child may be doing in PE class or in gymnastics; or, create an obstacle where the child needs to throw, kick, or roll a ball/item into a designated box or goal. These are just some great ways to incorporate daily activities into an obstacle course. One could also add in riddles or puzzles the child needs to complete during the obstacle course, or an obstacle where the child needs to jump over an object or around an object, which will help develop a child’s recognition of boundaries.
- All of these will help develop a mastery of skills required day to day and will help develop the child’s sense of self-efficacy and confidence, but also inspire the child to stay active.
- Time them! Adding time creates a challenge for a child to strive to improve and work on his or her skills.
- Most importantly make sure it is safe! Clear all objects of sharp corners or sharp pieces, replace broken parts and make sure things are secure and reliable are 3 important things to consider.
Please feel free to share your obstacle course ideas in the Comments section below.
Corey Cenate is a Wellness Health Coach at the University of Vermont Medical Center.
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