By: Dede Flatley, PT
As a parent, we’ve all had those days where the weather doesn’t cooperate, and the family is stuck inside for the day. I remember when my own kids were little, it seemed being stuck inside would leave them antsier than ever. “Mom, what are we going to do today?” “Mom, I want to play!” “Mom! Mom! Mom!” After a while, I learned that I was going to have to get creative; so to help prevent boredom and/or sneak some therapy in without the kids knowing it, I really enjoyed setting an obstacle course up in the house. This can be a great idea for your little one as well! They can be cheap and can be set up and picked up quickly as well. Also this is a way for the kids to problem solve and work together, and can be designed for all abilities. Here are seven ways to get your child moving and to help you start building your indoor obstacle course:
1. Have your little one crawl over or under chairs. Chairs are an easy addition to any indoor course, with plenty of uses! You can even have your kiddo practice rolling under the chairs!
2. Use cushions off the couch or chairs for the kids to roll on or step on for balance activities or have them jump off the couch on to the cushions.
3. Take two chairs and tie a piece of string or yarn across them. Then, set up a “top secret mission” and have the kids step over, crawl, or roll under it the string without touching it.
4. Use laundry baskets for practicing aim and have your little ones throw balls or folded up socks into the basket.
5. Use pillowcases to reach into and pull things out of (i.e. Jump rope, blindfold, oversized shoes). Make them complete the obstacle course using the item they drew, but jump roping to the finish, finding the next challenge while blindfolded, or running in oversized shoes. You can also use the pillowcases to sit on and scoot around the room.
6. Use blankets to cover up objects for kids to walk over or to make tents for the kids the crawl under.
7. Placing masking tape on the floor for kids to walk on, step over, or jump over, is always a fun challenge! It could be used in a hallway so you would have to limbo under it, or to mark the direction of the course.
All these activities could be adapted for children who do not have a lot of ability to move themselves but need to experience this type of active movement. For those little ones consider making a hammock out of a blanket and swinging them, or using a blanket to pull them along the floor are all fun and easy things to do.
So, next time you’re stuck in the house on a rainy day, take just a few minutes and set up an obstacle course. It’ll get your little ones feet moving, and their brain thinking. You’ll also be the coolest parent on the block!
These kids put some of the ideas in the post to use. Check out their obstacle course!
While you’re at it, see how a masking tape mission obstacle course was a fan favorite among the kids!