7 Obstacle Course Ideas for Kids of All Ages

19 Jun 2017

Turn your backyard into a playground with items you probably already have around the house.

No matter what ages your children are, they all have on thing in common unending amounts of energy. They have far more than you, so what are you to do when you feel like the house is busting at the seams? Build an obstacle course, of course. There are countless obstacle course ideas that can tire out even the most rambunctious kiddo.

Building obstacle courses is low-cost, easy fun for the whole family. "You'd be surprised by how much variety and fun can be had by creating courses from objects you have lying around the house," explains Julie Nixon, an author, mother of two and owner of parenting blog My Mundane and Miraculous Life. Even things found in nature such as sticks or rocks can be turned into challenging obstacles.

An obstacle course can take a quick 15 minutes, or can be detailed and consume an entire afternoon in both the construction and running of the course. "There are times you may want to put a lot of effort into the course and let the kids get messy or dirty, and there are times you want to keep it super simple," says Jodi Durr, a mother of three and creator of the popular blog Meaningful Mama.

"The key is to think like a kid when coming up with obstacle course ideas and don't be afraid to join in the fun. Kids will be more entertained and stay involved with it longer if you're cheering them on and even running the course with them."

Here are seven unique obstacle course ideas for you to try:


  1. Don't Ring the Bells
    This course from Childhood 101 will challenge your tot's balance, agility and concentration as she carefully makes her way through without making any of the bells dangled throughout ring. Busy toddlers will love this fun course.
  2. Gross Motor Skills
    It takes a lot of practice for your wobbly toddler to become an agile grade-schooler. Give him the opportunity to develop those skills by designing a course using many gross motor skills such as climbing, balancing and throwing. This DIY course from Playing and Learning Begins at Home hits on all the major skills.
  3. Sensory Obstacle Course
    "A sensory obstacle course needs to be both challenging and calming to their sensory systems," explains Nixon, who is also the mother of a child with Sensory Processing Disorder. Her obstacle course can be done indoors on days the weather isn't ideal.

    "The two major things to incorporate are balance activities or anything that will stimulate the inner ear such as spinning or hanging upside down and heavy work activities, or movements that put pressure on joints like jumping, dragging and pushing," she says. All kids have sensory needs, so an obstacle course that incorporates such movements helps all children.


  1. Pool Noodle Course
    Pool noodles can be used in many ways on a course. Plus, most homes have at least a couple hanging around in the garage, and if not, they are a cheap investment that pays off in a lot of fun! In fact, Learn Play Imagine designed an entire course creatively using pool noodles.
  2. Circus Themed
    If your kiddo loves the circus, she will flip over this circus-themed course! Laly Mom turns everyday objects into fun tasks and activities to master, as your little one attends circus training in her own backyard.Grade School.
  3. Backyard Warrior Dash
    Adult obstacle course races are quite popular, but why should you have all the fun? Set up a mud run or warrior dash in your own back yard. Happy Little Messes has ideas to get you started. 

All Ages

  1. Water Obstacle Course
    This water obstacle course from Durr is great for kids of all ages and can be modified to fit the needs of your family. "Kids love water and love creative ways to stay cool in the summer, and it keeps them entertained for a long time," she says. "They will love running it over and over again." A few hoses, a sprinkler and some creative use of pool noodles, and you are in business.


Want more backyard ideas? Read How to Build a Treehouse in Your Own Backyard.

Victoria Georgoff is a freelance writer and psychotherapist who enjoys writing about parenting, helping other parents and, of course, being a parent herself.

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