When it comes to obstacles, your kiddos overcome them like pros (yep, navigating their messy playroom counts). But if you really want to challenge your crew, set them to task on one of these themed obstacle courses. From a nighttime glow-in-the-dark adventure to one that’s got all the bells and whistles, we’ve found six inspired ideas to try! Scroll down to get the details.

photo: Roy Luck via flickr 

1. Float above obstacles. Who doesn’t love a little don’t-let-your-feet-touch-the-ground DIY obstacle course? It’s a classic for a reason. The simplest place to run your kidlets through the hot lava, alligator infested or boiling water (you get the idea) is at the neighborhood playground. Challenge them to make it from one end to the finish by climbing slides, swinging across monkey bars and deftly crossing from one swing to the next without touching the ground. If they do, it’s time to start all over again!

photo: Jon Seb Barber via flickr

2. Ride circles around obstacles. Sports cones and sidewalk chalk are the basics you need to set up a simple tricycle obstacle course for your tiny tike. Think turn-arounds and crazy eight loops when you set out cones to serve as the framework for the course. Then draw chalk arrows (and other helpful suggestions) to keep your tot on track. Once you’ve mapped out the basics, it’s time to get creative. Use what you’ve got to put in a few tame ramps, a cardboard box tunnel or two, and maybe even a sprinkler to ride under so little participants can cool off as they work through the challenging course. Run it as a relay between sibs or friends if you’ve got multiple kids to entertain. Here are even more tricycle race ideas.

photo: Allison Sutcliffe

3. Stick it to obstacles. We’re crushing on this unbelievably simple way to set up an obstacle course for your crew, and not just because you can set it up as easily inside (hello rainy day activity!) as you do out. All you need is a roll of blue painter’s tape to set this party in motion. Use it to map out balance beams, squares to be jumped in or over, squiggly rivers that need crossing…the list is endless. Then it’s up to your mini me’s to travel safely around, over, between and through all the imaginatively large obstacles you’ve laid out for them. The easy cleanup’s hard to beat, too!

photo: Childhood 101 

4. Don’t disturb the obstacles. It’s time to dig out those winter holiday decorations because they’re the centerpiece of this inventive obstacle course dreamed up by the creative minds at Childhood 101. As they make their way over, under and around your tricky design, your normally noisy kiddos can’t make any sound here. Get the full scoop on how it works at Childhood 101.

photo: Gabby Cullen

5. Train for obstacles. You don’t need to dig out fatigues for your wee one to complete this army inspired obstacle course. But you do need to think like a drill sergeant when you set it up. We’re talking tire ladders (or hula hoops) made for running, string suspended a couple feet off the ground for crawling under and boards made for balancing. Add in a few push-ups, jumping jacks and “sir, yes, sir’s” along the way and you’ve got a challenging course for your sidekick to soldier through. Psst… we suggest a whistle to start and stop the training here!

photo: Joe Goldberg via flickr

6. Dodge obstacles in the dark. If you buy glow sticks in bulk because you know you’ll need them some day, we’re here to tell you, the time is now. Break them out and crack ‘em till they shine because a glow-in-the-dark obstacle course is gonna be your kidlet’s new favorite thing. Once the sun has set, lay out your sticks, creating glowing patches that require jumping, paths that need careful crossing, even glowing sticks that need to be collected. Then send your crew off and running. A few porch lights or flashlights can help them navigate things safely. Great one for a fall party or Halloween night, too, to help them burn off all that candy-energy. 

Which one do you want to set up for your kids? Tell us about it in a comment.

–Allison Sutcliffe