For our 4th and final Blog of our “Beat the Heat” Series we want to focus on Obstacle Courses! At KidSpeak, LLC we LOVE a good Obstacle Course! They may look fun and easy…..but they are working on so many different important skills such as: balance, core muscles, gross motor skills, following directions, sequencing, organization, and much more.
Today we are going to walk you through all different ways to do obstacle course to Beat the Heat and work on your language skills.
First let’s talk about the different equipment you can use in an obstacle course:
- Scooter Boards: You can do a lot of things with Scooter Boards including: scooting on your bottom and using your feet to pull you, scooting on your stomach and letting your arms pull you, scooting your bottom while another friends pushes/pulls you, and more.
- Hula Hoops: These are great not only to use for hula hooping but great visuals boundaries where you can do jumping jumps, jumps, lunges, and more.
- Rings/spots: Rings are great too….you can use these for visual boundaries, as a hopscotch course, to help your kids know where to stop and go, and more.
- Tunnels: We love a good tunnel! But if you don’t have a tunnel you can always make one out of couch cushions, the couch and pillows, pool noodles or even stretchy fabric.
- Pool Noodles: Pool Noodles are not just for the pool anymore! There are so many cool things to do with these…..check out a few of these links https://www.pinterest.com/pin/95771929559049533/ https://www.pinterest.com/pin/68891069284265339
- Bean Bag Toss: Bean bag tosses are great! And all you really need are bean bags….because you can toss them into things (like rings, cups, bowls, pots/pans) as well as use them to knock things down like water bottles.
- Ring Toss: Again another great fun activity.
- Balls: Great for working on tossing, throwing, catching, bouncing, and more.
- Cones: Cones are great because you can work on jumping over them, weaving through them and more. You can also use so many different actions: jump, hop, run, skip, gallop and more!
- Hopscotch: Who doesn’t love a good Hopscotch!
- Rope: You don’t need a balance beam when you have some rope!
Next think about what your child is great at and what they are working on in therapy. These can be gross motor skills, body strengthening skills and more but don’t forget you can add in language skills too such as:
- Animal Walks: Crab walks and bear walks are great for strengthening our muscles but don’t forget to have fun and mix it up. If those are hard also add in some fun and easy ones like walking like a cat, running like a jaguar, hop like frog, jump like kangaroo walking like a turtle, etc.
- Runs: You can also work no different types of “runs” like running, skipping, galloping, and more.
- Rhyming: If they are working on rhyming then try to put this in the course in fun ways: 1) in between every 1- 2 activities place a red spot for rhyming where they have to rhyme or match rhymes OR 2) have a obstacle called the “rhyming bucket” and they have to pull out different pictures/objects and match the rhymes or make up their own.
- Story Telling: If they are working on story telling you could have a story telling tunnel where they crawl through and have to pick up 2 – 3 cards and then when they come out they have to use those to tell a story.
This is the GET CREATIVE PART! And if your kids see an OT, PT or ST ask them for some help in this area.
Third don’t forget to give them support/help with the activities you pick. For example….
- Help by using your language such as in Jumping: If jumping is hard then each time they are “jumping like a kangaroo” or jumping on hop scotch work on giving them language to help: we like to sing a song “you bend two knees and jump, you bend two knees jump, when you want to jump you bend two knees and jump”. Using a song or chant that focuses on what their body should be doing is always helpful with physical activities.
- Help by using Visuals: If you have any visuals then use them in your course to help your child.
Now it’ time to create your course. When doing this remember a few things:
- Easy and Hard: Remember to mix in things that are easy and things that are hard.
- Activities may be easy/hard physically
- Or the language activity may be hard
- Sometimes our friends do great when there is something there for them to physically see or manipulate (i.e.: the equipment: rings, hopscotch, scooters, etc) but then they struggle with the parts of the course that can’t physically see or manipulate like different animal walks, different stretches, etc. So first start with different activities that use equipment and then move to the ones that don’t.
- Start with a few and build up: Sometimes our kids have difficulty sequencing and organizing all the steps in an obstacle course….so start with 3 – 4 things and then when they are doing great build up to 5 – 6, then 6 – 7, and so forth.
- You may want to use a visual picture schedule or written schedule to help them sequence/organize and remember what to do.
The last two things we want to touch on are: How to make it more Social and How to make it more language challenging?
- To make it more Social: focus on cheering for others, congratulating others, or turn it into a “team” activity and try to beat your “teams best time”, or turn into a “team” activity where you compete against another team “time” – and then focus on the team that “won” giving different tips/advice for the other team and do it again!
- To make it more Language Challenging: have the kids take turns building different courses and then explaining to their friend(s) using their words (not their actions) on how to play. You can also do this by breaking up into Teams where they have to decided “together” how to create the obstacle course.
But we Forgot that we need to Beat the Heat this summer – so think about where you can do these where it is cool such as your house: hallways, play rooms, basements, garages (if it has A/C) or outside: in the morning when it’s cool or add in a water component to help stay cool!
We hope you all have a blast with your Obstacle Courses!
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