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ABC’s Obstacle Course: Gross Motor Activities for Preschool Aged Children

Obstacle courses are great gross motor activities for preschool-aged children. Learning objectives include enhancement of gross motor skills, strength, and coordination of large muscles as well as moving the body in relation to objects and other people. This activity is also perfect for teaching your children the alphabet. They can practice identifying the letters on our activity cards. It really is a great way to make literacy learning fun and active.

To create an obstacle course, simply sequence 4-6 movement activities together. If you have access to a gym, spread the activities around the perimeter with about 15’ between each activity. No gym? No problem! You can use a living room, hallway, or classroom. This activity can also easily be taken outdoors. Several of the ABC’s of Movement® activity cards work well in obstacle courses.

One obstacle course featured on OPENPhysed.org uses the cards: M, O, V, E. During this fun, active learning lesson, children are led in a single-file line from card to card. At each card, they identify the letter and then perform that movement to the next card.

For example, for the letter M, students will March to the next cone. At the second cone, children are asked the name of the letter, and then perform the corresponding movement to be performed on the way to the next cone. This continues from cone to cone as children recognize their alphabet letters and perform the kinesthetic movement associated with each letter.

Another fun obstacle course game uses the letters U (Under the Wire Crawl), W (Walrus Walk), C (Crab Walk), and B (Bear Crawl). These particular cards require strength and endurance. Most young children can only move their bodies short distances while performing these movements. When incorporated into an obstacle course, they will find more success moving 15’ per movement activity rather than all the way across a gym or other wide open space. In addition to using these alphabet letters, other movement activities may include jumping in/out of hula-hoops, crawling through a tunnel, log rolling, and walking on uneven surfaces.

After completing one trip around the obstacle course, play fun music like the ABC’s of Movement Music Album to increase the energy and pace. Ask children to think of other ways to move around the obstacle course. How about S-L-O-W motion? What about backward? The possibilities are endless when creating obstacle courses for young children.

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