How to Create Obstacle Courses for Preschool Gymnastic Lessons
Creating an obstacle course for a preschool gymnastics class assists children with developing a range of motor skills while emphasizing the joy of movement. An effective obstacle course design encourages whole-body exercise, emphasizing the development of strength, flexibility and coordination. Through the use of tunnels, balance beams, trampolines, ladders and mats, these gymnastic courses can include stations for tumbling, jumping, crawling, climbing and practicing balance. Obstacle course activities allow children to channel their physical energy, while learning new gymnastics skills in a safe and fun environment.
1 Set-Up and Materials
The first step is to determine how many stations should be part of the obstacle course. Four to six stations are generally a suitable amount for preschoolers. AMake sure to give each station an appropriate amount of space. Equipment for the obstacles can include hula hoops, trampolines, bean bags, mats, a ball pit and tunnels. Once you have arranged your course, be sure to demonstrate each obstacle for the children before they start.
2 Balance Area
One skill that is important for preschool children, especially the young gymnast, is balance. Include an obstacle station focusing on balance. Children can walk across a low balance beam, with mats underneath, or a balance board. Another option is to place a tapeline or jump rope on the floor and have children walk across it with bean bags on their heads.
3 Jumping Pits
Arrange several hula hoops and have children jump into each separate hoop. Another fun option is to have mini trampolines, with foam cushions on the side for safety, for children to practice jumping. An alternative is to have a springboard arranged above a ball pit or foam pit for children to jump from the board to the pit.
4 Forward and Backward Rolls
Young children often love to practice their rolling skills and this is a task that many preschoolers are capable of performing. Set up mats -- preferably wedge mats -- and have children practice forward and backward rolls.
5 Climbing Structures
Since climbing is a part of daily living -- climbing stairs, climbing ladders -- it is important for preschoolers to practice this skill. Short toy ladders or blocks can be used for climbing activities. One option, if available, is to utilize an A-frame climbing apparatus requiring children to climb over the top and down the other side while you closely supervise them. An alternative option is a low plastic structure on which children can freely climb. Nets can be used for climbing, as well. Even mats or large, sturdy boxes can be stacked like stairs for children to climb. Always arrange mats as a protective landing platform under any climbing obstacle.
6 Crawling Around
Crawling strengthens numerous muscles in the developing child. Many youngsters enjoy crawling since it was their first form of movement. As an obstacle, set up a colorful tunnel for children to crawl through. If you do not have a tunnel, tie a rope to two chairs and have children crawl underneath. You can even have the children crawl to the next obstacle.