How To Help Improve Gross Motor Skills With An Obstacle Course

First off, what is a gross motor skill? Gross motor skills are activities that involve the large muscles of the body.

In child development, it’s so important to be exposed to activities that help develop all the muscles in their bodies. As adults we try implementing exercise regimens, but even as adults we have a really hard time with that. 

So as always, we want to find fun and interactive ways to help kids succeed whether it’s academically or whether it’s in developing gross motor skills.

One of my favorite ways to implement gross motor skills is by creating an obstacle course. It really doesn’t matter how young or old someone is, kids of all ages love obstacle courses.

I literally make an obstacle course every week in my class.

One of the many things I love about obstacle courses are that they can be different every time. Kids can help create them too (which works on even more skills).

Another thing I love is that you can just use things around the house. I am fortunate enough to work at a clinic designed by an Occupational Therapist, so our equipment is pretty awesome, but it’s so easy to just use pillows, blankets, tape, chalk, or anything else at home to make an obstacle course.

What you want to think about when you’re making a course is what is your purpose? Here are some ideas of why you might want to do an obstacle course.

  • Just for fun
  • Gross motor skills
  • Problem solving
  • Language skills
  • Engagement
  • Circles of Communication
  • Perceptual motor skills
  • Executive functions
  • Planning
  • Attention
  • Organization
  • Response inhibition
  • Math skills

Whether you’re working on gross motor skills, or if there’s a different developmental skill you want to target, this activity is great for so many reasons! 

It’s adaptable, so be flexible depending on who you’re working with, and what stage of play the child is at. 

Supply Ideas


  • Have your child help gather supplies and help create the obstacle course. This will give some good heavy work, problem solving, and cooperation.
  • Find ways to implement a variety of movement. Here are some examples:
  • Jump from pillow to pillow
  • Jump in one spot 5 times
  • Jump to touch a target on the wall
  • Jump on a trampoline 10 times
  • Jump and do a trick at the same time
  • Jump and touch your toes
  • Jump over a stuffed animal
  • Hop on one foot
  • Jump like a frog
  • Crawl under a table
  • Crawl through a tunnel
  • Crawl to the other side of the room
  • Crawl and push a ball across the room with your nose
  • Crawl under a rope
  • Crawl over a pile of pillows or blankets
  • Crawl up the stairs
  • Turn around 6 times
  • Spin on a Sit n’ Spin
  • Put your nose on a bat and spin around 3 times
  • Run around a toy 4 times
  • Spin on one foot
  • Play a game of ring around the rosies
  • Put painter’s tape on the floor and walk across it
  • Balance on one foot for 5 seconds
  • Balance a toy on your child’s head and have her walk to the next obstacle
  • Balance a gummy bear on a spoon while doing an obstacle
  • Walk across a balance beam
  • Run around the couch 2 times
  • Run like a cheetah
  • Put a ball on one side of the room and a garbage can on the other side. Run and get the ball and put it in the can
  • Put different colored paper around the room. Run and get all the red paper
  • Run along a line of tape
  • Put pictures of animals around the room and when you name one, have your child run to it
  • Name a color and have your child run and touch something that color
  • Climb up a slide the right (or wrong) way
  • Climb up the stairs
  • Climb onto a bunk bead
  • Climb a ladder to the trampoline

Extra Tips & Ideas

  • There are a lot of different ways you can create an obstacle course. It can be different every time, which makes this a fun activity to do all the time.
  • Make an outdoor obstacle course using sidewalk chalk.
  • Use painter’s tape on your kitchen floor
  • Do it in one room, or go throughout the whole house. Use the stairs, beds, and tables as your props.
  • Add animal action cards in your course. Then change where they are in the course when you’re ready for something new.

Access The Full Tutorial


To gain full access to this tutorial and 70+ other activity and technique tutorials, become a member of The Early Intervention Tutorials


As a member of the EI Tutorials, you will learn how to:

  • Identify a child’s developmental level
  • Understand the stages of play
  • Learn how to help a child with limited play skills
  • Implement specific techniques to increase communication and engagement
  • Adapt activities to different stages of development
  • Target specific developmental skills, including: communication skills, cognitive skills, executive functioning, motor skills, social skills, and adaptive skills

Adapting to Different Stages of Play

Depending on a child’s stage of development, you’ll want to adapt this activity based on goals that would be appropriate for the child’s growth.

The stages of play are:

  • Stage 1: Unoccupied Play
  • Stage 2: Solitary Play
  • Stage 3: Onlooker Play
  • Stage 4: Parallel Play
  • Stage 5: Associative Play
  • Stage 6: Cooperative Play

I’ll share ideas on how to do this in the Early Intervention Tutorials. You can become a member and gain access to this tutorial by going to:

Developmental Skills

In this section, I’ll identify which areas of development this activity targets. I’ll also give some pointers on how to specifically target each area. You can become a member of the Early Intervention Tutorials by going to:



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If you have room for an indoor trampoline like this, I would highly recommend it. Great for bad weather days. This is the one we have at work, and it’s definitely a favorite

This is another good option, if you need something smaller. 

These are so much fun! If you don’t want to spend as much money, check out FB Marketplace, I oftentimes see them there, but they go fast.

Sit ‘n Spins are a fun vestibular toy and works on motor skills as well, including bilateral coordination, balance, and gross motor.

I haven’t used this specific toy, but ball pits and tunnels in general are great proprioceptive activities

There’s so much you can do with a scooter. They’re great for motor planning, vestibular input, proprioceptive input, and more. I like the ones that can connect together like this one.

Another great toy to have indoors when you can’t make it outside

These are great for obstacle courses inside or out. I’m not sure what brand I have, but they look like this

Another great addition to your obstacle courses. You can set it up different ways kind of like a train track. I have one of these at work, and it’s great for so many motor skills.

I also have these at work, and they’re great because they’re different sizes. They’re good for balance, and motor planning.

One of my schools had these, and they were great for indoor play. They’re good for balance and vestibular input. You can stand or sit on them. The kids had so much fun with these

Tape on the kitchen floor is an easy way to create an obstacle course. Balance on the red, spin on the blue, jump to the blue, etc.

Make an obstacle course in your driveway with sidewalk chalk. First, work on fine motor skills with drawing and then work on gross motor skills with running, jumping, spinning, and balancing.

If your child is bouncing off the walls (literally), these are fabulous for getting some of those wiggles out. It does require some coordination and body awareness though

These are great for obstacle courses, or building and knocking down. You can knock them down by running into them or throwing a ball at them. I use these all the time with my class

Crawling is such a good and necessary activity for motor development. I don’t have this exact tunnel, but I have one that looks just like it 🙂 Any tunnel will do. You can get a decent one at IKEA too.

I haven’t used these, but they would be great for an obstacle course. There’s a lot you can do with cones, rings, and beanbags 🙂 These had good ratings too.

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