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Posted on April 19, 2012 by Christine Crosby in 

Spontaneous Outdoor Fun: Your Own Obstacle Course!

The days are getting warmer and longer.

And the great outdoors is just waiting for you and your grands. 


Here’s a terrific ‘any time’ activity that can be  designed by your grandchildren, by you or a combination.  And, there are so many ways to enjoy it. 

What is ‘it’?  Your very own obstacle course!

Creating your own obstacle course involves a lot of school readiness skills and, more importantly, just plain fun!  The course can be made simple for very young grands and easily modified to accommodate older ones.

One of my grandsons and I have created several different obstacle courses and even enjoyed sharing one of them with the two young boys who live next door to him.  Being older than my grandson, his neighbors immediately created new ways to get through the course.

School Readiness Skill Development

Planning and Problem Solving: How do we set up the course? Selecting and setting up obstacles; configuring them; and deciding how to work your way through the obstacle course all are activities that teach planning and problem solving.

Social Skills: Learning to work as a team and working cooperatively with others is an important social skill to develop – or improve – for all ages.  Waiting your turn and taking turns, when each person does the obstacle course, can be hard lessons for young grandchildren, yet a critical social skill.

Listening and Following Directions: Listening and communication skills as well as following directions are important for school success.  Designing and going through the obstacle course involve all three.

Large Motor Development: Walking, running, jumping, turning around, walking backwards, crawling, etc., all help develop large muscles.

Building Your “O” Course

Here’s your simple guide to building your own obstacle FUN course:

  1.  Look around the yard and porch for usable objects.  These include plastic buckets; child-size and adult-size chairs; yard toys; shoes; watering can; garden rocks; tricycles; plant containers; sports equipment; outdoor cushions.  Make sure these are not too small or too big and  are safe to maneuver around.  Avoid using sharp garden tools.
  2. Check your yard for holes and bumpy areas and avoid those sections when building your course, so no one gets injured while completing the course.
  3. Be sure to leave sufficient room between and around items, so that you and your grands can safely maneuver your way through the course.
  4. Plan how you will move through the course.  Start on one side or end and weave your way around objects.
  5. Next, ask your grands, “What other ways can you get through the course?”  Options include:
  • Two people starting at the same time from opposite ends.
  • Going through the course backwards.  This can be challenging, so go slowly!
  • Adding movements in between objects, such as skipping, hopping, dancing, crawling and even a few jumping jacks or bouncing a ball.
  • Picking up something along the way through the course, e.g. taking a wooden spoon out of a plastic bucket and putting it back into the bucket.
  • Use a stop watch to ‘time’ the fastest person through the course.  Let everyone know: No skipped objects!

Take a photo of your obstacle course for future reference and as a memento of a spontaneous, fun outdoor activity with you and your grandchildren. And, for bragging rights later that you all completed the course.

The experiences your grands have – when building the obstacle course and moving through it – help them develop school readiness skills without anyone noticing they’re actually learning!  And that’s the best way for learning to occur.  It’s the experiences your grands have that help them get ready for, or improve, school success…whether they’re toddlers, preschoolers or already in school.

Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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