When it comes to physical exercise, getting kids up and moving can be a challenge. Using  obstacle courses can be a fun way to engage your kids in active movement. You can use a variety of sensory tools and household items to customize an obstacle course, or check out the packages (1,2,3) we’ve put together.

Navigating through the obstacle course activates a variety of sensory systems. Read on for some of the main benefits of incorporating obstacle courses into your sensory play!

Navigating through an obstacle course builds strength and improves body maps. Pressure to the joints and muscles improves awareness of where your limbs are so that you can be more coordinated in your movements and not bump into things. The input through your shoulders, wrists and hands when climbing or crawling through a tunnel helps develop fine motor skills and writing. Jumping on a  Bounce Board strengthens your lower limbs. 

Being able to find your center of gravity and use both sides of the body in a coordinated manner are skills that are essential for motor development. Balance beams,  rocker boards and  hopper balls can take those skills to the next level. These activities translate into other gross motor skills like riding a bike and being able to kick a ball.

Every task we perform needs a plan. Being able to look at the different stations in the obstacle course and figure out how to move through them is a lesson in sequencing, problem solving and motor planning. This will also help reinforce working memory for daily tasks that will be repeated. These are good practice for all skills including the ones needed for math, writing and even dressing in the morning. 

Obstacle course play can also help teach children about taking turns, communicating and listening for directions. Getting through each step of the course is great for building confidence. Kids can encourage each other as they move through the course as well.

Whether it’s a rainy day activity or something you do outdoors, setting up an obstacle course is a fantastic way to involve a variety of senses while having fun. You can even encourage your kids to help put the obstacle course together!

Want to know more about the sensory systems involved in obstacle courses? Leave your questions and comments below for our OTs to get back to you, or send us an email at customercare@funandfunction.com.