Article

Obstacle-Course Olympics

Turn your playground into a fun challenge for young children!

  • Grades: PreK–K

Materials

  • Sliding board
  • Tunnel
  • Small hoops
  • Colored tape or chalk

Objective

Encourage physical development by setting up an age-appropriate challenge course where children use large-motor skills.

In Advance

Using small hoops, a tunnel, and a sliding board, set up an outdoor obstacle course. Place the small hoops in a line that's easy for children to step in approximately one foot from the end of the sliding board. Place your tunnel on the ground so that it follows the hoops. Use chalk or colored tape to mark the spot where you want children to begin. Take a minute to do the obstacle course yourself, making sure it will work for your group.

Activity

  • Have everything set up before you take your group outside. Explain to children that the activity they are going to be doing is called an obstacle course. Some may be familiar with the term and want to share what they already know.
  • Explain to children that each person begins at the colored mark on the ground and that everyone will have a turn to climb the stairs or ladder, slide down the slide, hop on both feet through the hoops, and crawl through the tunnel. When they finish, they can return to the end of the line and wait for another turn.
  • Ask one adult to assist children who are climbing onto the sliding board while another helps children as they come down the slide. Remind children to wait until the person ahead of them reaches the bottom of the slide before they slide down.
  • Accompany the activity with the following song (sung to the tune of "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain"):

They'll be climbing up the ladder when they come.

They'll be climbing up the ladder when they come.

They'll be climbing up the ladder,

They'll be climbing up the ladder,

They'll be climbing up the ladder when they come.

Change verses to "sliding down the slide," "hopping through the hoops," "crawling through the tunnel."

For younger children: Begin with a simplified version of the obstacle course. As children become familiar with the course, you can add to it gradually.

For older children: Use chalk to add numbers and letters to the area inside the hoops. Invite children to "hop to number 3," "skip to letter A," "jump to number 8."

Tip: Keep group sizes small. Twos and threes will get frustrated if asked to wait a long time for their turn. When children have mastered this course, ask for their help constructing a new one.

 

Related Books 

Encourage children to appreciate their talents and the talents of others with these great books. 

Angelina Ballerina by Katharine Holabird 

D.W. Flips by Marc Brown

A Very Special Critter by Gina and Mercer Mayer

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