Keep your kids active indoors on a rainy day with an obstacle course. This entertaining activity should help stimulate their muscles and brains much better than sitting in front of the television, and should be twice as fun. Take stock of items you have around your home that could be used to make your obstacle course, and then set up shop in an open space of the house.
Building a homemade obstacle course is similar to building a fort in that both require the temporary use of household items like chairs and bedsheets. Have your kids help you gather useful items from around the house to begin planning how you want to go about constructing the course. While you could map out your ideal obstacle course before collecting your building materials, it would be advisable to take stock of the items you have in your home so one missing piece doesn't derail all your plans and hard work.
Send your kids off to another room while you set up the obstacle course. This will help to ensure that no illegal strategizing will go on prior to the showdown, and that the course will more or less be a completely challenging surprise. Set up your obstacles to fill a set amount of space, ensuring your kids will have plenty of room to perform challenges that arise in the course. A good space might be a basement or living room with the furniture cleared away. Place all breakable or valuable items in another room to prevent any unfortunate mishaps during play.
Timing is an essential element of any successful obstacle course. Use a stopwatch or cellular phone to keep track of your kids' scores, awarding the title of obstacle course champion to the child with the quickest time. You can have rematches for your kids to try and improve their personal best; keep a log of their ups and downs in a notebook that can be kept on hand for future obstacle courses.
The nice thing about obstacle courses is that they are highly customizable. Get your kids thinking outside the box with mental challenges; have one leg of the course be to answer a math or word problem correctly before moving on. For physical challenges, set up rows of chairs to act as a tunnel that your kids can race through, or simply require them to do 10 push-ups or jumping jacks. Challenge the kids to crawl through a crazy maze constructed from crisscrossed yarn or string, or have them walk with a beanbag on their heads to push their balance skills to the limit. For some silly challenges, have the kids sing a song or dress up in a wacky outfit.
Megan Burns is a graduate from Denison University in Granville, Ohio, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in political science and Spanish. She has been writing professionally since May 2009 with a Washington, D.C. entertainment blog called Brightest Young Things. Her areas of expertise include music, film and travel.