Make Your Own Backyard Obstacle Course

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The following is by contributor Amy Anderson of Let’s Explore and Early Bird Homeschool.

I am always looking for fun, creative ways to get moving with my kids. Since my girls were toddlers we have been making our own backyard obstacle courses. Our whole family can participate in gathering items, setting up the course, and testing our skills in a friendly family competition.

One of the greatest things about a homemade obstacle course is that you can use whatever items you have on hand. A stuffed animal slalom course?  Sure! Hurdles made from rolled-up beach towels? Absolutely! As my girls get older, their creativity inspires more elaborate obstacle courses each time.

Some kids like the addition of a stopwatch to keep track of their course times. Other kids would rather just go through the course for fun.  Either way, you’ll be adding some fun family fitness to your day!

Here are some of the many activities we have incorporated into our courses over the years. Think of this list as a create-your-own obstacle course menu – pick and choose the activities that match your child’s skill level and the materials you have on hand.  Better yet, let your child be involved in choosing the activities and setting up the course.

Balance

  • Lay down a board for a balance beam
  • Walk the “tightrope” using a jump rope or garden hose
  • Stand on one foot for a count of five (or ten)

Crawl

  • Crawl under a table or bench
  • Go through a pop-up tunnel
  • Lay a broomstick across two chairs and crawl under
  • Crawl through a large box (top and bottom removed)
  • “Army crawl” across a blanket or sheet

Jump

  • Hop across a hopscotch board drawn with chalk
  • Make a line of hula hoops and jump from hoop to hoop
  • Stand on a marked spot and do jumping jacks
  • Jump over soft pool noodle hurdles (prop the noodles below knee-height on two overturned buckets or boxes)

Pull & Ride

  • Pull a wagon along a twisty garden hose or sidewalk chalk path
  • Take a lap on a tricycle or scooter

Reach & Toss

  • Reach and touch balloons hanging from a tree branch (at your child’s tippytoe height)
  • Throw beanbags into a laundry basket or bucket
  • Toss paper plate rings (cut out the center) onto a water bottle for a homemade ring toss
  • Shoot a basketball

Splash

  • Walk through a wading pool
  • Toss a water balloon at a target (fence, tree, bucket, etc.)
  • Run through the sprinkler (This is a great course finale!)

Walk & Weave

  • Set-up plastic cones for a classic weaving drill
  • Walk backwards ten steps
  • Zig-zag through a slalom course of hats, shoes, or whatever else you can find
  • Walk heel-to-toe in a straight line

Next time you go to the park, pack a few hula hoops, cones, jump ropes, and beanbags for obstacle course making on-the-go. Add in jungle gym features such as slides, ladders, and rock walls for even more variety in your course. A great activity for a group of friends to do together – or for making new friends at the park!

Have you made an indoor or outdoor obstacle course with your kids?  What are their favorite obstacle activities?

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About AmyA

At her blog, Let’s Explore, Amy shares her family’s experiences creating, imagining, and playing together. You can read about her homeschooling journey at Early Bird Homeschool.

Comments

  1. This is great! Our kids typically ask me to build them an obstacle course, but you’ve added some new things to the list. Thank you!

  2. We did something similar to this except we added signs to tell what to do at each station (Toss, Jump, Walk, etc.) and they had to read them. Since they were early readers, it was reading practice too in a fun way.
    Phyllis´s latest post: Multiplication with Crossed Lines

  3. A stuffed animal slalom course? Water balloon toss? What a great twist on backyard fun. I LOVE it! Thanks, Amy :-)
    Kara Fleck´s latest post: Make Your Own Backyard Obstacle Course

  4. Vanessa says:

    This came at the perfect time! My son will love a fun obstacle course on his upcoming birthday! You gave me a lot of great ideas, thanks.

  5. I have been wanting to do this all summer. Thanks for the extra ideas!
    Rana´s latest post: Budget Boot Camp Challenge III

  6. What great ideas!
    Amanda Morgan´s latest post: Speak UP! Why We Should Use Big Words With Little Kids

  7. LOVE this idea. Not sure how it will translate for a two year old but maybe if I start with just one or two different obstacles it would work okay. Thanks for the great idea.

    • Lindsie N says:

      Many of these ideas work wonderfully with a 2-year old. I have a 2-1/2 year old and a 4 year old who love making up new obstacle courses. We use the cement driveway and front yard, so that we can also add tricycles and scooters in on the fun. I put out the tunnel in the grass and a 2×4 for a balance beam. I also draw circles on the cement for them to jump in. Sometimes the 2 year old does things her own way, but we let her. :) It’s all for fun!

  8. What great ideas! We’ve used croquet balls and sticks in many ingenious ways but I’ve never thought of using a stop watch. Such a simple thing…
    Tina@RideonToys´s latest post: The Ezy Roller Riding Toy Is Unbelievably Unique

  9. Love this! I wish the elementary school I work at would do something like this out at recess. The kids would love it and it would keep them much HAPPIER out there and not so bored!
    Books That Heal Kids´s latest post: Book Review- My Mouth is A Volcano Activity and Idea Book

  10. I have great memories of doing similar things with my neighbors and cousins. All the variety of ideas you shared are great!
    Janna @ Mommy’s Piggy TALES – Record YOUR Youth´s latest post: The Death of a Parent- Fifth Grade

  11. I love these ideas! I also like that you suggested bringing these things to the park as well, since not everyone has a backyard conducive to obstacle courses!
    Just Plain Joy´s latest post: Quote of the Day

  12. Thanks for all the great ideas. I have invited my three granddaughters (6, 4, and 3) to a SAFARI this weekend, and your suggestions are going to make it a success . It should be great fun — I’ll let you know how it goes on my post. (www.kelliallred.com)

  13. Thank you for sharing such fun and creative ideas! Can’t wait to try these out!

  14. My family is planning a family reunion and one of the challenges has been trying to figure out what to do with the little ones to help keep them happily occupied and engaged.

    I think this just might be the ticket. I will have all of the family board members take a look at this post and see if they agree.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Keith Martin
    Publisher, InfiniteWaterFountains.com
    Keith Martin´s latest post: Bond Napa Valley Water Fountain – Make an Impressive Splash In Your Backyard

  15. Great ideas! I just recently had a kettler tricycle, and a nice obstacle course in the backyard can further hone the cognitive and motor skills of my kids. Thanks.
    Sam Allie´s latest post: By- Serial Key

  16. Thanks! Im using this for my little sister’s birthday today!

  17. Thank you so much! This was very helpful for our 12-13 year olds!

  18. Hey we will try this at home! We love obstacle races!

    I’m also thinking of doing it while wearing our favorite mascot! Isn’t that great? LOL
    thanks for sharing! Cheers!
    puppet shows´s latest post: Tali Galaw Marionette Group “The First and only Marionette Group in the Philippines”

  19. Dave Maltz says:

    One idea that worked really well when we did this for our 3 year old’s birthday was to have them put on some of my big rubber boots (up to their hips!) and walk about 15 feet. It was hilarious. Unfortunately by the time the next year rolled around, their feet were to big to go in with their shoes on! We have also had them jump on a stomp rocket and shoot a soccer ball.

  20. Can’t wait to use these ideas at our upcoming block party. Thanks so much!

  21. HEY, AMY! Thank you for the great list of fun ideas.

    My soon-to-be 6 yr old, little brother is quite excited for his ‘Mario Party’! and we are having an obstical course to “Save Princess Peach”.
    Your ideas sure have helped my mom and I figure out some new ideas for the challenge! (:
    Thanks a ton.

    Big Sister,
    Amber

  22. Thank you for so many great ideas! We are planning our son’s End of Chemo party and the theme is “Overcoming Obstacles.” Jotted down several of your obstacles! Thanks! ~Dana

  23. Kim Johnson says:

    Thanks for the ideas! My kids will love this.

  24. My kids and I always love to use chairs, tables, balls, towels, wood boards, golf clubs, and even soccer nets to make easy home-made courses.

  25. Having a party for preschool in the family relations class this obsticle couse seems to be so fun. I know the kids will love it.
    Sean´s latest post: Holiday Music Memories

  26. I’m in high school and had to plan a fun activity that little kids would enjoy to do with my class. These ideas were tons of funn! Thanks!

  27. I have been planning a Girl Scout Camping trip and these ideas will work great for our survivor obstacle course. Great Team building games. Thanks

  28. Kate Boylan says:

    My teacher used lots of your ideas for our sports day this year.
    It’s going to be great fun!!!!!!!!!
    I can’t wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Thanks!

    P.S Please reply

  29. Kate Boylan says:

    k

  30. When stuck indoors, masking tape makes a quick and easy addition to any indoor obstacle course. I have used it to make ladders to hop over, shapes to walk around or hop from shape to shape, zig-zag lines to walk heal-to-toe on, hopscotch boards. Spell out your child’s name to walk heal-to-toe on or vertically to hop over. Hopping can be on one or two legs. The tape works on smooth or carpeted floors.

  31. SO TO BE A GIRL SCOUT YOU HAVE TO FOLLOW SOME OF THEE STEPS ?

    I WANT DAVE TO ANSWER MY QUESTION

  32. Brandi Cub Scout says:

    This was a perfect find! I’m running a weekend camp for cub scouts and I needed ideas for the obstacle course. Your post had so many great ideas!

  33. Hi! I recently wrote a Summer Activity bucket list on my blog and I gave you a shout out! You can check it out here if you would like!

    (all photos and page mentions were sourced and linked back to your original post.)

    http://amomsrambels.blogspot.com/2014/05/summer-activities-for-entire-family.html

Trackbacks

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  2. [...] put together a fun create-your-own obstacle course menu – keep reading over at Simple Kids! Cancel [...]

  3. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dave Peckens, Michigan Dads. Michigan Dads said: Parents: Make your own backyard obstacle course: http://is.gd/dyuWY via @DavePeckens [...]

  4. [...] 4. Obstacle Course – Here’s a great one for a group of active kids that need to burn off some energy. An obstacle course is less-organized than a game, but still fun for some friendly competition. If you have a stopwatch or two, the kids might enjoy timing each other. For a “menu” of obstacle course ideas, check out my backyard obstacle course post at Simple Kids. [...]

  5. [...] Make Your Own Backyard Obstacle Course [...]

  6. [...] Obstacle Course Menu: we’ve modified this to fit our surroundings and materials, but it will no doubt become a standby. [...]

  7. [...] Make an obstacle course in the backyard – here are some great ideas using household items: http://simplekids.net/make-your-own-backyard-obstacle-course/ [...]

  8. [...] 2. Make a backyard obstacle course: Enjoy the outdoors and keep kids entertained with a backyard obstacle course, using whatever you have around the house: a garden hose for balance, a pop-up tunnel to crawl through, a broomstick for limbo, pool noodles, cardboard boxes, and more. Let’s Explore blogger Amy Anderson has some great ideas to practice different skills for kids of all ages in her post, “Make Your Own Backyard Obstacle Course.” [...]

  9. [...] 3. Backyard obstacle course. Who is the greatest obstacle warrior of them all? Have a competition in your backyard that will be sure to keep kids busy for hours. Make an obstacle course out of wading pools, tires, and ropes to test kids’ balance and agility. For some great obstacle course ideas visit here. [...]

  10. [...] Obstacle Races: Gather some neighbours and their children to have an obstacle race! Here’s a starter planning list. [...]

  11. [...] 3. Backyard obstacle course. Who is the greatest obstacle warrior of them all? Have a competition in your backyard that will be sure to keep kids busy for hours. Make an obstacle course out of wading pools, tires, and ropes to test kids’ balance and agility. For some great obstacle course ideas visit here. [...]

  12. [...] Make a giant course in your backyard. Kids against adults, even the dogs might like it, too. Simple Kids website has great ideas for setting up your own course! 14. Sunset stroll on the beach. Take your shoes [...]

  13. [...] the Sprinklers 5-Go to Story time at your local library 6-Go on a Nature Hike 7-Make an Outdoor Obstacle Course 8-Go to a Museum 9-Go to the Zoo     10-Camp out in your Backyard  11-Have a [...]

  14. [...] 2. Outdoor obstacle courses: it doesn’t matter if you don’t have fancy equipment! You can use toys or anything around the house to create an obstacle course in the backyard or a park. If the idea of turning a garden hose into a balance beam doesn’t sound like something fun, bring back some outdoor games that were fun when you were growing up: tag (or freeze tag, or “TV tag”), “Capture the Flag,” or “Red Light Green Light:. [...]

  15. [...] about the obstacles that can stop youth from achieving their goals. Consider making an obstacle course that the group needs to navigate as a part of reaching their [...]

  16. [...] Make Your Own Backyard Obstacle Course | Simple Kids. [...]

  17. [...] Course Use pillows, plastic cones, boxes, hula hoops etc to create an obstacle course for the toddlers to tackle. You can create this activity indoors or outdoors and can be enjoyed [...]

  18. [...] *Starting with a collection of materials that can be used for constructions that change and create space (blocks, boxes, boards, chairs, logs, sand, mats, tents, cones, jump ropes ect.), make your own obstacle course in your back yard or park. For some great inspiration, see the Simple Kids website. [...]

  19. [...] about the obstacles that can stop youth from achieving their goals. Consider making an obstacle course that the group needs to navigate as a part of reaching their [...]

  20. [...] endless amounts of energy and a short attention span.  I need adventure, more organised races, an improved obstacle course, some props for imaginary games & of course plenty of cake.  All I need now are a few of his [...]

  21. [...] Back yard obstacle courses     http://simplekids.net/make-your-own-backyard-obstacle-course/ [...]

  22. [...] 5) Create a safe obstacle course in the backyard. Maybe create two for different age groups. Check out these sites for ideas: Obstacle Course Tips #1 and Obstacle Course Tips #2. [...]

  23. [...] obstacle course “stations” can be as easy or as challenging as you want to make them. This resource has great ideas for creating your own course with the items you probably have tucked in closets or [...]

  24. […] 4. Indoor Obstacle Course- obstacle course ideas […]

  25. […] How To Play: Have students pair off into groups of two. The goal is to have the first student verbally instruct the second student how to get across the room and pick up an object—while the second student is blindfolded. Students set up a very basic obstacle course in the classroom—they can arrange chairs, put out bean bags, set up small castle made of building blocks, or whatever comes to mind (students can get very creative when making an obstacle course!). […]

  26. […] put out bean bags, or set up small castle made of building blocks—or whatever comes to mind. Making an obstacle course can be a game in […]

  27. […] Set up an obstacle course in the grass at the park. […]

  28. […] here are links to some that you might need directions for: Rain Gutter Race Track Shaving Cream Art Obstacle Course Homemade […]

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