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One of our favorite ways to activate kids' proprioception and the vestibular system through movement is with an obstacle course. And who better to provide inspiration than creatures from the animal kingdom who hop, crawl, spin, jump, slither and more? With printable animal obstacle course cards for inspiration, it's easy to set out a few simple objects and try the ideas below to create your own animal-inspired obstacle course at home.
Prep and gather materials.
Or take inspiration from a book.
Set up a “course.”
- Something to weave their body in and out of (e.g. bean bags, rocks, pillows, books, buckets)
- Something to balance on (e.g. upside down buckets, uneven rocks, stack of books, a log)
- Something to walk along (e.g. coil of rope, stretched out ribbon, strip of tape, row of pillows, line of coins, line of rocks)
- Something to jump onto (e.g. blanket, bed sheet or tarp)
- Any open space to move, roll and crawl
Get to know your obstacle course.
Introduce the animal cards.
Move like creatures.
Leave the course open for play.
- Repeat! If kids love working through the obstacles, invite them to try it again. Can they do the challenge faster this time? Offer some of the additional challenges and modifications from the cards to try a different approach to each obstacle.
- Add props: The addition of a simple prop or costume can boost imaginative play and inspire kids to go deeper with their movements. Use twine to tie a sock or piece of fabric around the waist to make a squirrel tail. Turn a toilet paper roll and a piece of twine into a flamingo or chicken beak. Or, try out some of these ways to create simple props that will inspire creature play.
- Create your own animal-inspired challenges: What other animals might you be able to move like? How would those animals approach the obstacles you have laid out?
- Add to your course: Rearrange your materials or gather additional ones to make new obstacles.
- Barefoot sensory walk: As an additional challenge, set out a series of low storage bins or cookie sheets filled with various sensory materials (e.g. water, mud, dry soil, sand, leaves). How does it feel to walk through the materials with bare feet? On all fours? What sounds do the materials make?
Why is this activity great for kids?
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