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May 11, 2012

Pool Noodle Backyard Obstacle Course

Games with Pool Noodles

I've mentioned before that my mom created and taught a Motor Development program for over twenty years.  What do you think was one of her favorite pieces of equipment?  Pool noodles of course!  I went on a recent shopping spree at Dollar Tree, so I stocked up on pool noodles for some outdoor fun.

Using some of the ideas I remember watching in her classroom and some of my own I put together a week of fun with pool noodles for JZ (4) and J-Bug (3).  One day we set up domes as cones and used the pool noodles to hit a beach ball into each other's goal.  (We used domes, because that's what we have.  Cones, bean bags, buckets, or any other toy or common household item will work just fine!  All you need it something to stay put and mark off a goal.)  For this game I cut each of the pool noodles in half.  A light ball is a must.  The noodles are fairly flimsy, so to get any power in your swing beach balls are ideal.

Supplies: (affiliate links provided)

The obstacle course had many elements to it.  I made a path with domes and gave the boys a small ball to hit with their pool noodles.  This takes a lot of concentration, self control and motor skills to keep the ball within the markers.  The temptation to hit the ball hard is great, but to keep it on the path short, even strokes are best. Again, anything can be used to make your path:  wood, ropes, toys, furniture, other pool noodles, etc.  


After leading the ball through the path with pool noodles, they put their ball on a dome and hit it into a net.

Hitting the ball off a dome was J-Bug's favorite part.

Next we made pool noodle hurdles.

You can probably guess from the photos that the pool noodle hurdles were the preferred part of the obstacle course.  I use the term "obstacle course" loosely, because JZ and J-Bug did each zone over and over again before moving on to the next portion.

chairs or other surface to hold pool noodles in place

Hurdles are a great tool for developing gross motor skills.  Have your child walk over them, jump, run and jump, crawl, crab walk, etc.  For an additional challenge, have your child side step or side jump over a hurdle!

The pool noodles can be propped on the seat part of the chair or on the support rails underneath.  For jumping over, setting the pool noodles on the lower setting worked best.  The seat worked better for crawling or crab walking under.  J-Bug did his best to crawl under the lower setting.

The higher setting presents a greater challenge for older children.

Purposely knocking them over is fun, too.

Be mindful of your child's age and abilities.  Keep the height challenging but possible.  A frustrated child is more likely to give up and move on.  I lowered the hurdles anytime it was J-Bug's turn.  When young children are challenged and then conquer their goal, they gain confidence.  An obtainable challenge is a good thing, but remember not to make the goal out of reach.

Keep in mind that too easy of a game could leave a child bored.  When playing with children of varying ages, adjust the rules as needed to keep all ages engaged.

For even younger children instead of propping pool noodles up with chairs space them out directly on the ground to jump over.

This went on for a good twenty minutes.  They ran and jumped over the set then ran back to start over again.

At the end of our course I put a beach ball out for the boys to kick as with all their might.  It was my job to retrieve the ball and put it back in place.

For more ideas for getting kids moving visit my Motor Development board on Pinterest. 

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Other gross motor games:

Have you made something fun with pool noodles?


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  1. Great ideas. I've pinned to my Keep Moving board and will be using some of the ideas in our summer Olympic games. Especially like the hurdles.

  2. What a great article, thank you so much for the ideas! I do obstacle courses with my little one all of the time to work on her motor skills. These are wonderful.

  3. These are fabulous ideas for pool noodles! I just coordinated an Olympic Game Day at the aftercare facility I work at and we used pool noodles for the javelin throw. Love the idea of using them for hurdles. I'll do that next!

  4. Great ideas thank you for the post!

  5. Great ideas, thank you for sharing. I can't wait to try these this summer!

  6. These are great ideas to get kids moving outside. I have included it in my What Can You Make with a Pool Noodle Round Up. If for any reason you would like me to exlude your project please let me know and I will take it out immediately.

    Thanks again for sharing!

  7. Just love this idea - such a great way to keep the kids entertained and active! I'll be featuring you in the Discover & Explore highlight post today - thanks for linking up!

  8. This is awesome! My son is so excited to have it at his birthday party!

  9. Instead of the chairs, I saw elsewhere to use chopsticks and put the noodle over the chopsticks! Who has chopsticks laying around!? But anyway, I do have dowels/pencils laying around! :)


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