Obstacle Course: Great for Language!

Like  mentioned yesterday, the last couple weeks we had a LOT of rain! So we were stuck inside. Being stuck inside with two little ones can be tough. A few weeks ago we made a fort (and I blogged about it at Living Life Intentionally!) which is AWESOME for working on speech and language skills! This last week we did something that I used to do all the time in my speech sessions with my little ones. We made an obstacle course!

What is an obstacle course?
An obstacle course is a series of challenging physical activities an individual must navigate through. The activities often require gross motor skills such as climbing, walking, running, crawling, jumping, balancing, and maybe even rolling, spinning, and swinging! You can make the courses easy or difficult, and can develop and plan them around the specific needs and abilities of the people who will be completing them. They are fantastic for gross motor, motor planning, visual perception, critical thinking, problem solving, and speech and language skills.

How can you make one in your home?
You can make an obstacle indoor or outdoor, but today I am going to talk about making an indoor one. You will need to first gather items to set up the obstacle course. Some possible ideas:

  • Pillows
  • Blankets
  • Chairs
  • Ottomans
  • Couches
  • Tables
  • Hula-hoops
  • Books
  • Tents
  • Large baskets
  • Balls
  • Balloons
  • Pop up tunnels
  • Old cardboard boxes
  • String, paper, tape, clothespins

Once you gather your items, you will want to set up your course! You can either set it up on your own, or have your children help you (depending on age). You can even turn this into a big project and have your child draw blue prints for the course!

As far as what types of obstacles you have will depend on your materials and your children’s ages/developmental levels. The possibilities are ENDLESS. Here are some examples I have gathered from my own obstacle course building and from searching the net:

  • Go under or over chairs or tables
  • Walk on top of chairs
  • Go through tunnels (either a pop-up tunnel or make your own with a sheet and sturdy chairs or out of old cardboard boxes)
  • Go in/out/through tents
  • Go over a couch
  • Jump from the couch onto a big piles of pillows
  • Jump in hula-hoops in a row on the floor
  • Walk on books set up on the floor like stepping stones
  • Crawling under/over a string that is tied between objects (or walk under it like in limbo)
  • Throwing balls into buckets or baskets
  • Keep a balloon in the air for 10 seconds
  • Have areas set up of different activities they have to do before moving onto the next like jumping rope, jumping up and down three times, counting to 10, saying the ABC’s, spinning around in circles 5 times, naming the presidents, doing a math problem…see how the possibilities are E N D L E S S? If your child/student needs to work on a specific skill, just set up an area for this. For example if you are an SLP you can set up words all over the course that the students need to say 10 times each.

These are just a few  ideas. I found this awesome PDF with TONS of ideas on building obstacle courses! You can download it HERE.

How can you target speech and language skills?

Obstacle courses naturally promote speech and language skills. Obstacle courses require children to navigate by going in, out, under, over, on, off, through, next to, to the right/left of, up, down, etc. Depending on what goals you are trying to achieve, you can target nearly anything. The simple act of going through the course can help promote following directions and basic concept knowledge (not to mention gross and fine motor skills). As I mentioned above, to target even more specific skills you can do this easily by setting up activities within the course that must be completed before moving on to the next, like saying an artic word 10 times before moving on or maybe describing a picture (describing skills, grammar skills) or providing an antonym or synonym for a given word or set of words. The children are often very motivated to continue on the course!

What ours looked like:

For ours, we used the following:

  • books
  • tents
  • couch
  • toy chest
  • rocking chair
  • pillows

The kids had to climb up over the toy chest and couch

And then through the tents and tunnels

And then they had to walk on the books like stepping stones (and the books are all different colors so we talked about each color they were on..sometimes they walked, sometimes they jumped, and sometimes they crawled!)

Half way through the book-stones they had to sit and rock in the rocking chair 5 times, and they continued on the path and back to the beginning.

They had SO much fun while working on SO many fun skills! Have you ever made your own obstacle course? What kinds of obstacles did you use?

Cheers!

(By the way, I apologize for the terrible cell phone pictures. When I went to grab my camera I couldn’t find my SD card! I ended up finding it a couple hours later…so I had to use the iPhone!)

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links.

About Katie

Katie is a licensed, credentialed and certified pediatric speech-language pathologist and mom to three (5, 3 and 9 months). Her passion about educating, inspiring and empowering parents of children with all abilities led her to start her blog Playing With Words 365 where she shares information about speech and language development, therapy ideas and tips, intervention strategies and a little about her family life too. Katie has been working in the field of speech pathology for 9 years and is certified in The Hanen Centre’s It Takes Two to Talk ® and Target Word ® programs and holds a certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). In addition to blogging and being a mommy, Katie works part time in her small private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

Comments

  1. The link to the pdf of obstacle course ideas is no longer available. Would you be able to email it or post it on your website?

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