There are only so many hours you want your kids cooped up indoors on gadgets and electronic devices. It’s really important to get them outside in the sunshine so why not turn your garden or backyard into a wonderful world of adventure?
With just a bit of imagination, you can turn ordinary household items into a whole heap of fun for the afternoon. Take a look at some of our ideas – fun is just waiting for you!
Don’t think older children are too old for a bit of traditional fun and games, either – children of all ages love to romp and play through obstacle courses. Older children particularly like to help set up courses for younger kids.
Here are seven of the most fun ideas starting with the simplest for the smallest people:-
Touch me and you’re out
Image source: Childhood101
Use mini bells, and Christmas baubles which incidentally children just love hanging on trees and plants, even wispy bits of material which blow in the breeze. You don’t need a head for heights as this one is for toddlers and the idea is they make their way along the course without touching anything – it’s endless fun and they will want to do it again and again
Climb, balance and throw
Using the simplest of objects from around the home, for example, upturned Tupperware boxes for stepping stones (or these turtle shell stepping stones pictured above) for co-ordination and balance, place a bucket at the end of the course with a tennis ball or potato to aim at while using a narrow line of string to walk along, toddlers just love these simple and safe challenges.
You can make the course more challenging for the bigger kids by using the garden furniture and some strings with balloons and bells:
Image source: Backyard Obstacle Course
Sensory-style obstacle course
Babies love to tummy crawl. Get them tummy-crawling over a couple of sofa cushions on the lawn, and build some little tunnels out of pool noodles (See below).
For the older kids, you could create a jungle section where they have to move like their favorite animal and make the right animal noise. Get them crawling like a wheelbarrow with plastic picnic plates as sliders. Finish up with lots of pillows or beanbags at the end to crash into. The only limit with this course is your imagination and it’s a great concept that doubles up for use inside if the weather is not great.
Pool noodles rule
Image Source: Teaching Mama
If you haven’t come across these yet then you need to get shopping. Pool noodles are brightly-colored (big tick) pieces of cylindrical foam that are buoyant and designed as a swimming aid in the pool. Their uses are literally endless. Fashion them into hoops and use other pool noodles cut in half as bats to whack softballs through a hoop course. Use them to maneuver a softball or tennis ball around obstacles on the ground.
Place them across supports to make mini hurdles to jump over or crawl under, they are soft enough not to inflict any damage on the careless. Chairs make great stands for this game.
Image source: Pool noodle course
Theme your course
Theme your course with whatever is the fun trend of the time, it could be circus-themed or dinosaurs or involve the characters from your kid’s favorite bedtime story.
Use all the senses so touch, sound, and smell and remember, children have really vivid imaginations so don’t think you have to create something that looks like it has come straight from Disneyland.
If you say those softballs are dinosaur eggs hidden in a nest under the tree only to be reached through a hazardous and challenging course then that is what your kids will see!
Spy training course
For older kids, although younger ones will be desperate to tag along!
This is a great one for kids’ parties as it is collaborative and interactive for a group but it can be done solo too. Write cryptic paper clues that can send the children off all over the garden where you can hide the next clue or significant item. Involve some physical challenges in obtaining the next clue or key item as well as brainpower. Allocate the children a character with a name badge and refer to characters in the clues so each child feels individually challenged.
The possibilities are endless and it’s a great way to make use of a small space that is not that interesting.
Leave the best till last! Children just adore water so make an obstacle challenge using a paddling pool and lawn sprinkler, balloons, floating toys, fishing contests and pool noodles, even the dog can join in with this one. Just remember the sunblock and change the water daily to keep it clean and fresh
The key to obstacle courses for kids of any age is to combine fun with a challenge; if they are too easy, kids get bored. Plus they love the high of beating or overcoming the challenge. Make sure you name your courses with something fun and exciting; they can be as silly as you like.
Your children will start asking for the courses by name. Don’t think they will get bored of doing the same thing – children love repetition – they will only get bored and disinterested if it is too easy.
Obstacle courses promote problem-solving skills, cognitive function, physical coordination and development, and social interaction. Best of all, they are so easy to create with stuff you will find just lying around the house. So forget expensive garden games and remember to build a den for rest, shade, and snacks when they are exhausted from play.
DIY Backyard Obstacle Course: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NdJtdfYoMc
Backyard obstacle course: https://teachingmama.org/backyard-obstacle-course/
7 Obstacle Course Ideas for Kids of All Ages: https://www.care.com/c/stories/3945/7-obstacle-course-ideas-for-kids-of-all-ages/
Sensory play obstacle course: https://childhood101.com/sensory-play-obstacle-course-ideas/
25 Obstacle courses for kids: https://playtivities.com/obstacle-courses-for-kids/