If your kids are often active and underfoot, you may be looking for something more constructive than the TV to occupy their time. This is why you should consider building your children an obstacle course that will keep them both active and busy.
There are a number of different types of obstacle course ideas for kids, some of which may suit your child’s personality better than others.
Creative Obstacle Course Ideas to Keep Your Child Busy
1. Obstacle Course for Young Children
For those that think that your child may be a little too young for the aforementioned courses, not to worry, as you can easily design a simpler course perfect for their age and abilities such as this one on Inspired Motherhood. You can tape some balloons to lawn furniture, or a plastic slide and have your child crawl through it. Then place some hula-hoops on the ground and have your child jump from hoop to hoop to reach the next obstacle. This could be the sandbox, where they dig for buried treasure, or even a water table, where they may need to fish out pool toys in order to complete the course.
2. Balloon Obstacle Course
In case of inclement weather, you can also build an obstacle course that is indoor friendly using balloons. This can be done using an ABC Mat if you have one, or even just by rearranging your furniture. The idea of a balloon obstacle course is to create a path that is challenging for your child to complete while carrying a balloon. Thus, the path you set up should be difficult to complete with a balloon in hand, but not impossible, and should use a combination of jumping, crawling, and spinning to make the course more challenging. Hands On As We Grow has a great example of a balloon obstacle course to help get your ideas flowing!
3. Pipe Obstacle Course
A pipe obstacle course can be difficult to build if you don’t already have pipes on hand. But with have a kit of detachable pipes, this can be an easy and unique use for them. As shown in this example on Hands On As Your Grow, you can attach the pipes to create everything from hurdles to tunnels, and other obstacles which your child must run around. You can even tie ribbons between two standing obstacles to create a challenge your child must conquer by squeezing through in order to finish the course!
4. Yarn Obstacle Course
Building a yarn obstacle course, like this one by Floating Ax, is the perfect low-budget activity for the next rainy day. For this obstacle course, take a bundle of yarn and wrap it around various furniture and fixtures in your house to make something that looks a bit like a laser maze! Now see which of your kids can get to the other side without touching a single string of yarn.
5. Water Obstacle Course
This one should be saved for a warm and sunny day, but pick up an inexpensive plastic pool from your local store (or maybe even two!) and create an obstacle course centered around them. You can also use items such as pool noodles, water balloons, and other water toys to design your water themed obstacle course like this one by Meaningful Mama. And if there is already playground equipment in your yard, don’t be afraid to get a little creative and maybe pour some water down the plastic slide!
6. Pool Noodle Obstacle Course
This is another inexpensive obstacle course that is easy to build if you have the materials on hand. You’ll definitely need quite a few pool noodles, but luckily they aren’t too expensive and can be found at most stores. It’s best to build your pool noodle obstacle course outside, like this one built by Learn Play Imagine, where you can create barriers for your child to climb under or jump over, by placing the noodles on different pieces of lawn furniture. You can also use the noodles to create a path, then ask your child to hit a light ball, such as a beach ball, through the course using a noodle, without letting the ball escape.
7. Train Obstacle Course
A train obstacle course can be a great way to keep your train lover entertained as shown in Ms. Angie’s Class Blog. To create a train obstacle course in your home, you will need several obstacles (can be furniture) and a roll of masking tape. Use the masking tape to create train track patterns on the floor leading to the obstacle, and have your child use the tracks as if they were a train. For example, the tracks in the kitchen could lead to the table which your child will need to go under. You can also leave breaks in the tracks on purpose, which your child will need to jump over in order to continue.
8. Yard Obstacle Course
When trying to garden and would like to do so uninterrupted, consider setting up a yard obstacle course using items commonly found in your yards like this one shown in Pencils, Proverbs, Pandemonium, and Pins. Upside-down planters make great obstacles to run around or jump over, and the hose can easily be set on something to create a water limbo. Consider including any play equipment in the yard as part of your course by having your child go down the slide, or maybe under the swing set. You can also have your child work on their balance by walking across a wooden beam that is just above ground level.
9. Animal Obstacle Course
If your child loves animals, then it’s time to build an animal obstacle course like this one designed by Laly Mom. Start by taking all of your child’s stuffed animals which represent an animal that makes a sound. Then take the ones which do not (such as a bunny or dragon) and alternate them in a path around the house. Now, make certain rules which apply to each type of animal. For example, your child could have to jump over the animals which make a sound, while making that sound, and walk around the animals which do not. This is a great obstacle course for younger children who are just learning to connect speech and movement!
10. Spy Training Themed Obstacle Course
For children who spend a lot of time watching movies or cartoons about spy characters, then this should be the first obstacle course you build. This obstacle course is best built outside, where you can use nature, as well as lawn furniture to create a pattern for your child to run through. You can use a table, or even just boards across some buckets to create an obstacle your child needs to crawl through. You can even use sidewalk chalk to draw parts of the course on the driveway or sidewalk. Check out this spy training themed obstacle course by One Creative Mommy for even more fun spy related activities!
11. Sidewalk Obstacle Course
This is a great obstacle course to bring all the kids in the neighborhood together. It is also an easy course to create, using just sidewalk chalk and the sidewalks in your neighborhood. You can use the chalk to draw different formations your child must walk and jump through, as well as use certain colors to indicate other types of motion your child must complete. For more ideas on what these could be, check out this example by Playtivities.
12. Shape Obstacle Course
Using shapes to create an obstacle course for kids is a great way to teach kids their shapes while getting them up and off the couch. This is best done by using a computer to print out large shapes on pieces of paper and then taping them to the ground a bit like a giant board game as you can see in this example by Toddler Approved. You can also use your computer to generate a larger than normal dice or use some that you have lying around the house. Then it’s time to assign each shape with an action your child must complete when they land on that shape! These can be easy, such as jumping jacks or spinning in a circle, or you can make them more difficult such as singing the ABCs. And this game is an easy one to adjust and re-use as your child grows.
13. Morning Obstacle Course
Sometimes kids have a difficult time focusing in the morning and having them complete a morning obstacle course like this one featured in 5 to Fifteen, may help to get them more mentally prepared for the day. This is best carried out when you have a backyard to set up the obstacle course in, where you can leave it set up indefinitely. Use a mix of playground equipment that is already in your yard, combined with items such as hula hoops, mats, and possibly a plastic tube, to keep your child feeling challenged.
14. Ultimate Indoor Obstacle Course
Children love when they get to do something which is usually off-limits, such as climb on the table or stand on chairs, both of which are fun indoor activities included in this obstacle course idea by Hands On As We Grow. For this particular obstacle course, you should try to find something your child struggles with to add a mental aspect to the course. This could be letters, numbers, or maybe colors. Put these variables on sticky notes and create a path through the house which your child must follow. Ensure that as they pass each sticky note, that they say, or recognize, what is on it before they move to the next one. This way they can be active and further their learning at the same time.
15. Have Your Child Help You Design A Course
Who knows what your child enjoys better than your child? That’s why in this example by Frugal Fun, it’s time to consult your child and build an obstacle course together. The obstacles you built should be safe to use, and easy for your child to rearrange when they want to adjust their obstacle course. The best obstacles for these types of courses are wood (to be used as a balance beam), PVC pipe to make hurdles, and some sort of lightweight stepping stone. This way your child won’t need to bother you every time they want to adjust the course!
Building an obstacle course for your kids is one of the best ideas to keep them active as well as constructive. And because obstacle courses don’t have to be anything fancy, you can probably build a few of these courses just using items you already have around the house. Not only that, but obstacle courses are easy to adjust, so playtime can grow as your child grows, keeping them on their toes each day as they rise to meet new challenges.