You don’t have to climb through tiny tunnels to play with your child at the park. This simple playground obstacle course is a great way to connect with your child and encourage them to get moving and learning in a playful way! I want to play with my kids. Really, I do. Or at least, I want to want to play with them. (did you follow that?) But sometimes, I’m just so tired…burned out from a day of mommy duty…and I just want to sit and relax or do whatever I want to do.
And there’s a balance there, right? It’s good for kids to be able to self-entertain, but I also recognize that they are growing up faster than I can keep track of, and I don’t want to waste these precious years we have together while they are little.
So, I’m trying to find more little ways to connect with them each day. I don’t have to run around and be crazy (I don’t do much running with my pregnant belly at the moment), but I want them to know that their mom wants to be with them. I want them to feel that I value their companionship and their ideas.
One of the ways we’ve been playing together lately is by doing a playground obstacle course. It’s super simple, I don’t have to move much, and it’s a great way to get my kids moving (and learning) when we’re at the park.
We go to playgrounds a lot these days, and while I usually sit on the sidelines and relax while they play, I’m trying to take SOME time while we’re there each day to play with them.
You can keep this game fun-only, or you can mix in some sneaky real-life learning by adding in counting skills (e.g. – “spin around 3 times”) or color identification for younger kids (e.g. – “go down the green slide”). The possibilities are endless.
Playground Obstacle Course
What we’re learning:
- following instructions
- gross motor skills (jumping, swinging, climbing)
- counting (three jumps, two giant steps)
- A park/playground
- a timer (or your own brain to count)
How to play:
- Find a nice shady spot for yourself to sit. (See, I told you that you would like this game.)
- Give your child a series of actions to complete (think American Ninja Warrior on the playground). Here are some ideas that we have used:
- run up the stairs
- climb through the spiderweb
- swing three times on the monkey bars, then drop
- go down a slide
- jump over the toadstool
- run across the bridge
- spin around 3 times
- climb through the tunnel
- tag the pole to finish
- Get out a timer (I use an app on my phone, but you can always be low-tech and just count.)
- Make sure your child is clear on the “course” and say GO! I often will call out reminders of where to go next while he’s running.
- See how fast your child can complete the course and then encourage them to do it again and see if they can beat their time.
It doesn’t get much simpler than that, right?
We just did this at the playground this morning, and Little Man had so much fun with it. Little Brother even joined in part of the time, too. Another little boy at the park wanted to get in on the action after watching my kids, so we did some time trials and they got to compete against each other.
There you have it. Next time you’re at the park, and your kids want you to play with them, try out a playground obstacle course. If you’re feeling daring, you could even time yourself doing the course!
Love this! I’m 34 weeks preggo so while I truly want to play with my toddler I’m exhausted- this is a great idea!
Yay for pregnant buddies. We must be due about the same time!
My kids love obstacle courses! We often just do them in the yard–run around the tree, skip to the flagpole, etc. but I like the idea of taking it to the park. A low key way to engage our kids! Fun post.
We’ve done backyard versions, too (and indoor versions), but this has been my kids’ favorite version. Thanks for your comment!
This is such a great idea! My kids love going to the playgrounds! I’ll have to try this with them!
Belle | One Awesome Momma
Thanks, Belle. I hope you enjoy it! We just got back from the playground again, and this time we ended up with 5-6 kids all taking turns racing through the obstacle course. It was so popular, I eventually handed the timing over to one of the older kids. 🙂
Morgan @ Morgan Manages Mommyhood
This is GENIUS. I love that you can kind of trick your littles into thinking you’re doing it with them by being a referee or sorts. So smart for those days that you just don’t have it in you!
Thanks, Morgan. “Those” days are really frequent right now for me with my giant pregnant belly, so we play a lot of games like this one.
I love this! Not only is there some learning, some play, and a moment for you to sit for a second (lol), but it gets them outsideeee!
Necessity is the mother of invention, right? It’s nice when that necessity yields such a fun game though. 🙂
Corey | The Nostalgia Diaries
I love playing on the playground with my daughter, but I love that this turns it into more of a fun game!
I’m up for any fun game that keeps my kids busy and active while I’m able to watch them from a shady seat. 🙂
This is such a fun and easy idea!
So smart!! My kids will love this, too!
So smart!!! I love this idea <3
What a fantastic idea! I love going to parks with my kids, but struggle on how to stay engaged with them as they run about the park…can’t wait to try this out ?
I agree about it being hard to find ways I WANT to play with them at the park. This one has been a winner for me though. 🙂
All Things Big and Small
I love this idea! My kids would absolutely love it–and it’d be good for me too!
It’s really satisfying to leave the park and know that we ALL had a good, meaningful time.
Justine Y @ Little Dove
What a great idea! I can’t believe I never thought to do this with my little ones before!
I love this SO MUCH, and I’m wondering why I didn’t think of it! I could even do this in my backyard to spice things up a bit. You’re brilliant, Meg!
Thanks, Brenda. Simple things are so often the best!