- Lyndsey Ryburn, MOT, OTR/L
Why Obstacle Courses are Beneficial for Development and How to Create Them
What is an obstacle course?
An obstacle course is a series of challenging physical obstacles that are negotiated to achieve a particular aim.
Why are obstacle courses important for children?
Obstacle courses have many benefits for growing children. They target their gross motor skills and coordination, challenge their problem solving abilities, strengthen sensory processing skills as they move from side to side/up and down, touch different objects and learn about their body positioning in space for improved body awareness. Additionally, obstacle courses are a form of "organized play" and can help organize the brain and body to improve attention, focus, and regulation.
Where can you make and obstacle course for your child?
An obstacle course can be constructed indoors or outdoors with everyday household items and items in nature!
Here are some household items and items in nature that can be used for an obstacle course and how they can be used:
Pillows: Lay them down like lily pads on the floor for your child to jump from one to the next or create a crash pile for them to jump into!
Couch: Have your child jump 10 times on the couch as part of the obstacle course, walk across it for balance or build a tunnel with the cushions!
Chairs: Place the chairs side by side to create a tunnel for your child to crawl under, place a blanket on top to make it a dark tunnel!
Tape: Use tape to create a "balance beam" line on the ground or create a hopscotch portion of the obstacle course.
Logs Outside: Have your child walk across a wooden log like a balance beam.
Rocks: Your child can jump from stone to stone and try not to touch the floor!
Small Trees: Climbing over small trees can be a fun part of an obstacle course and work on motor planning, gross motor coordination, body awareness and tactile sensory input!
Get creative with how you and your children construct an obstacle course and maybe even incorporate a puzzle so that they can bring a piece through each time and put it in the end, making their completion when all the pieces are in!