Friday, August 14, 2009

Obstacle Courses

One of my favorite things to play with my daughter and the older toddlers that I work with as an O.T. is "obstacle course". My daughter likes to set up a few movement activities in a sequence in the living room, and then maneuver through the obstacles while I time her with my stop-watch. I like this activity because it is good for strength, coordination, balance, praxis, sensory processing, and cognition. The activities we often include within the obstacle course at home are: crab-walking, fabric tunnel, exercise ball with handle (AKA hippity hop), hula-hoop, dining room chairs, and large pillows. Sometimes I challenge her more by having her crawl backwards through the tunnel, jump into the hula hoop with both feet as it is laying on the floor and then hop out of it on one foot, slither under the chair, and bounce on the ball while circling a piece of furniture. She gets the biggest kick out of this!

When I am in a client's home I just search through the play room, toy box, and other areas to find objects that are in the environment that could be included within an obstacle course. Below are some common things within homes that could be used:

  • Place mats: place 2-3 in a row and have the child jump from one to the next
  • Blankets and chairs: create a tunnel to crawl through by draping a blanket over 2 chairs
  • Large pillows or couch cushions: pile a bunch of pillows together and have the child climb over them, slither under them, log roll or forward roll over them
  • Coffee or end tables: slither under them like a snake or walk around them forward or backwards
  • Exercise ball: roll, bounce (on bottom, standing, back, or belly), carry over head, "crash" into it
  • Heavy quilts: take a "magic carpet" ride by being pulled on it or pulling sibling on it as they sit or lay down
  • Laundry basket: the child can push it while it is inverted, or sit in it and be pushed or spun
  • Balled up socks: toss balled up socks into a box or large plastic bowl
  • Stairs: walk up or down them, "booty bounce" as the child bumps down as he sits on his bottom
  • Common toys kids have: trampoline, rocking horse, tricycle or other ride-on toy, tunnel, tent
  • Activities to incorporate: marching, jumping, hopping, running, walking or jumping backwards, rolling, bear crawl, crab walk, army crawl, galloping, spinning, donkey kicks

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