Being stuck inside more during the cold winter … really this whole pandemic … you might be seeing more unpleasant behaviors from your little one.  Little bodies need to move.  It’s more than just a need to release all of that energy (which is a huge factor on its own), but their gross motor development is blossoming and needing to shine.  They also have a need for gross motor sensory input during this stage.  In other words, their bodies are telling them “go, go, go!!” and if they don’t have those needs met, you are more likely to see less than optimal behaviors more frequently.

Not to worry though.  I’m going to share my favorite go-to indoor energy and gross motor break, used for years within my classrooms and my own child.

May I introduce you to the sanity saving … obstacle course!

Now, you may think – “sanity saving” and “obstacle course” do not belong in the same sentence.  But I stand behind that sentence 100%.  Try it, add your own spin to it, and enjoy your time with your little.  You’ll be glad you did.

Suggested items for your course:

  • Pillows! Stack them to climb over or lay them down for a soft landing.
  • Tables, chairs, stools and blankets to make tunnels to crawl through.
  • Cups, bowls, bread pans, etc. to put upside down and use to step or hop over.
  • Tape! Painters or masking tape work well for this.  Use it to mark the path, create tightropes to walk on, to mark off lily pads for them to frog hop on… really the list is endless.

Depending on their age, your child may be able to follow your directions or they may want to explore the space on their own.  The biggest point of this activity is to allow them to get that energy out using gross motor movements.  Encourage them to hop, skip, waddle like a penguin, bear walk, tip toe and so on through the straight aways. 

Take it to the next level:

When their attention is fading, take the game to a new level.  Adjust the obstacles, create new walks and hops (snake slither takes a lot of energy… just saying).  And feel free to add the ultimate next levels – lava and/or a monster!

  • Lava – it doesn’t have to be the whole floor! Lava could live simply in one of the cups on the floor – careful not to touch it going over!
  • Monster – (can be anything, not all kids are okay with monsters) Decide together on what they have to hide from.  As they go through the course, you can give them a freeze command (i.e. “ut-oh! Here it comes! Quick, freeze!”) followed by a release (i.e. “Phew! It’s gone now. We made it!”)

Have fun, use your imagination, and get creative!

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