7 Elements of the Ultimate Indoor Obstacle Course - Small Legacies

7 Elements of the Ultimate Indoor Obstacle Course

By Kendra Johnson

We live in Wisconsin and while I am a huge advocate for getting kids outside in all weather, sometimes I just don’t have the energy to get the whole family outside. Unfortunately, no matter how low my energy is…my sons have more than enough. 

For years we’ve had a great time building indoor obstacle courses! Here are a few ideas for how to get your kids active inside using an indoor obstacle course. I’ve also included specific on why these particular guidelines will have the greatest health benefit for everyone at home. 

1. Clear Boundaries 

When making your obstacle course, have a set and clear rule on which furniture they can climb and which they can’t. 

If you have strict rules about no climbing on furniture, then you will want to really evaluate what pieces the kids are not allowed to climb, and reflect on why that is. I personally let them climb on the couch, but the end tables are just not sturdy enough to hold them. 

Health Benefit:

Clear boundaries and routines are essential for toddler functioning. Having a clear set of expectations and rules will help your little ones thrive in this activity (and all others for that matter). Check out what the CDC says about setting family rules.

2. The Floor is Definitely Lava

“Floor is lava” is a classic for a reason. This simple concept leads to amazing cognitive and physical benefits for children of all ages. To do this, collect pillows or step stools from around the house to create stepping stones for kids to cross. 

Health Benefit:

A floor is lava game, especially one involving stepping stones, helps kids develop balance, gross motor skills, and impulse control

3. Climbing is King

We are spoiled and have been using an indoor climber from EZPlay but you don’t need that fancy equipment! Letting kids climb up to the back of the couch, an indoor slide or climb onto a secured and stable table will help develop fine motor skills and get their energy out. 

Educational Benefit:

Climbing is a great way for children to enhance decision making, risk analysis, discipline and focus. Learn more about what REI has to say about the benefits of climbing .

4. Jump Around 

Jumping is really going to help get their heart rate up and use up that extra energy. As part of the obstacle course, have one or two spots where the kids have to pause and do some jumps or jumping jacks before moving on to the next phase. 

Health Benefit:

Healthy heart, strong core, coordination…these are just some of the major benefits of jumping around

5. Get a Little Dizzy!

Roll around on the floor or spin in circles. Either way, it'll add a little bit of chaos and a whole lot of fun.

Health Benefit:

You may not have realized this, but spinning around is actually a critical part of childhood brain development. Spinning enhances vestibular stimulation which leads to greater sense of balance, increased right and left brain coordination and helps the child focus. You can learn more from The Genius of Play blog!


6. Make it a Loop 

If possible, make your obstacle course a full loop. This will allow the child to complete the course repeatedly without stopping. If that doesn’t work for your space, set a timer and see how long it takes each child to complete the course. 

7. Get Silly

The goal from our point of view is to get kids active and healthy, but the goal for the kids is to have fun. Make sure that as you do this activity it remains exciting and even silly. Have fun music playing, be encouraging, smile and laugh. If your kids want to start changing up the course, let them! Work as a team of engineers to help build the most epic obstacle course possible.



Kendra Johnson is a certified elementary educator based in rural Wisconsin. As a parent and teacher, Kendra has a passion for teaching through engaging and varied techniques. Her background in theatre, educational technology and curriculum development have fueled her passion for teaching life skills to youth creatively.

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