Inclusive Resource on Sensorimotor Child Development for Parents and Teachers

Obstacle Courses

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When my oldest was six and the twins were two we traveled to Europe for my husband’s sebbatical.  At this point one might think-what were we thinking?!  We were given a lovely home in the country with a garden, so the children could run around.  One hitch- there were no electronic devises in the house-no TV, no record player, not even a radio.  This was long before portable computer games and various electronic devices.   Oh, how I longed for Sesame Street at the end of a busy day.

Our solution:  The children would clamor up the stairs and pull down every pillow, cushion and comforter.  They built forts and whatever their imaginations came up with.  After the Heavy Work of dragging all those items down the stairs they usually settled pretty quickly into a long cozy story time.  When they didn’t, we’d create obstacle courses.

Benefits:

  • Imagination to create the course (this may be facilitated by an adult)
  • Heavy work to build (pushing chairs, lifting blankets, etc.)
  • Heavy work to crawl under, climb over, roll or whatever is designated to move through the course.
  • For the younger child, opportunity to practice developing motor skills.
  • For the older child, opportunity to remember a motor sequence.
  • Heavy work activates muscles that can strengthen the trunk.
  • Heavy work stimulates the nerve cells in the brain that help calm and organize the child.
  • Getting back on the floor to climb and crawl requires bilateral and sequenced motions that lay the foundation for physical abilities.
  •  Motor sequencing is important for learning to follow a series of instructions but also to build motor planning ability.

Directions:

Really there are none.  Let your children’s imaginations run wild! Here are some guidelines to get you started:

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  • Piles of cushions can provide hours of fun: crawling over them, balancing on them, playing King of the Hill and jumping on them.
  •  Make sure there are no sharp corners around and the floor is cushioned with a soft carpet or more cushions.
  • Blankets draped over chairs create private spaces and great tunnels to crawl through.
  • Climbing on a horizontally positioned ladder provides a new kind of motor challenge.

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  • Placing a board securely on top creates an incline for rolling down.  Make sure there is adult supervision for this one.

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  • Placing cushions,  pillows or mats on the floor, the kids can hop to each, pretending they are stepping stones in a pool of water.  OR you can make it a game of following a sequence, “hop to the checkered pillow, then flowered ..”  OR   “work” on Right and Left, “Jump to the pillow on your right,  on your left … “

 

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