These days, getting your kids outside can be a challenge unless they have a reason to be out there. What better way to lure kids into the fresh air and sunshine than a homemade obstacle course! There are a lot of great ideas online, and we found some of the best ones and made a list, so you don’t have to go to multiple sites for the best ideas that there are!
With a few pool noodles you can find at any dollar store, Walmart, or even Amazon, and the help of a few garden stakes, you can make tunnels to crawl through, agility football feet, a ball toss, and even a ring toss! All you need is some good old-fashioned duct tape to make the rings!
Fun with Tires
If you just so happen to know a mechanic or a DIY car guy, you can probably get your hands on some old tires. Paint them bright, vivid colors with some non-toxic paint and set them up in the backyard. Kids can go through, over, or under the tires!
You can get road cones and set them up as an obstacle course. Dollar Tree lets you buy 30 cones for $30, and it will ship to your local store. This gives you plenty to play with and create! You can attach string or even pool noodles to them to create hurdles, use them in ring toss to toss rings over, or whatever else you can come up with!
Add Some Water Fun
With some PVC pipe from your local hardware store and some pool noodles for added color, you can hook up your garden hose to the PVC and create a DIY water obstacle course. You can make the PVC a straight run as you see here or add some corners for a more extended corridor with more fun! You will need a drill to put the holes in the PVC for the water to come out and a way to cut the PVC the way you want it, but other than that, you don’t need any special tools!
Create a Balance Challenge
This is perfect if you have more than one child, but it can be adapted if you only have one. I used two cinder blocks and a scrap piece of plywood. I told my boys to figure out where to put the wood where they could stand on it, and it doesn’t tip one kid to the ground. This will be more challenging if your kids are farther apart in weight. If you only have one child, challenge them to figure out what to put on one end to balance when they stand on the other end!
If you are handy with wood, you can build a treehouse with ropes and bridges for kids to navigate. Rope ladders, nets, and even zip lines can all be incorporated into a fun outdoor obstacle course that ends or begins in their very own clubhouse in the sky!
Upgrade or Create a Swing Set
You can incorporate fun new activities into your existing swing set by adding rock climbing walls, nets, or other fun new features. If you don’t have a swing set, it is a great investment that can grow with your kids! There are so many different options and accessories these days that kids of all ages can have fun getting exercise and using their imagination!
Wooden Balance Beam
Balance beams are an excellent way for kids to gain balance and confidence. You can literally go to any hardware store and pick up the wood you need for thirty dollars or less! You can also spend a little more and get creative. Instead of a straight run, make zig zags or shapes for your child/children to navigate!
Tunnels can be bought or made! Tunnels should have a large enough diameter for your child to fit through. If you don’t want to go store-bought, you can use large drainage pipes or even create your own! You can make tunnels with many large tires, pool noodles, fabric, wire, plastic, whatever you have on hand, or you can find cheap!
Sides can be a fun part of an obstacle course. If you don’t have one and don’t want to buy one, you can always make one! You can make a regular slide with wood, plastic, cardboard, whatever you have! You can also make one of the nifty roller slides pictured above!
Tree Trunk Hop
If you happen to have just cut down a tree or have one that needs to be cut, you can make a Tree Trunk Hop. Get some logs of different sizes that have a sturdy base, and your kids can hop from log to log. This is great for balance and coordination!
Bounce House Obstacle Courses
Bouncy house rental is becoming a popular way to have fun. A lot of places have different options. There are a lot of various obstacle courses in the world of inflatables. The good news is there are a variety of pricing options! These self-contained obstacle courses are great for building stamina!
A rope climb is easy to build. It will help your kids build upper body strength and determination. Rope climbs can be different lengths and heights, and you can even have multiple ones. If you put several ropes in a row, you can make the objective be they have to swing from one rope to the next!
This is great for older siblings or parental involvement. You can set up plywood, sheets, or whatever else someone (like you) can hide behind. The person hiding will have a Nerf Gun. When the kid(s) get to the war area, they can pick up a Nerf Gun as well. The person hiding will come out and attack. The child doing the obstacle course can shoot back some suppressive fire, but their main objective will be to get past the area without getting shot!
Hula Hoops can be used in various ways and is a great substitute when you can’t get your hands on tires. You can put hula hoops two in a row, however deep, and create an agility run. You can hang them up for kids to crawl through. You could even have a contest to see who can hula hoop the longest!
Sack races are a classic party game. They are also a great way to finish an obstacle course that has multiple kids going through! You can buy pre-made sacks or even make your own! If you don’t have enough sacks, you can put two kids per sack and create a teamwork scenario!
Night Obstacle Course with Glow Sticks and String
Outdoor fun doesn’t always have to be during the day! At dusk, get a bunch of glow sticks glowing and create paths and trails to follow. You can also use the glow sticks to illuminate your daytime obstacle course!
Bug Catch – First to Catch Bugs!
This is a great obstacle course addition for boys. Give each boy or child a plastic cup or mason jar. The first one to find five different bugs and get them into their container moves on to the next challenge!
Buy a Kit
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If money is not an option, there are kits on Amazon and other online retailers you can buy and set up. If you search for ninja warrior obstacle courses for kids, there are many options in the $80-$200 range. Many of these kits will need trees or something else to attach the lines to, so this may not work for all backyards.
If you don’t have time to build something and have a pile of Amazon boxes….
For whatever reason, kids of all ages love boxes. You can unfold the bottom and connect it to others to make a maze or use large boxes for playhouses, stores, or whatever you can come up with.
Of course, there are a lot of other great ideas out there, but we just wanted to share with you some of our favorite ones!
Check out some of our other articles for more backyard ideas: