Physical Development: Making an Obstacle Course for Home Play

Obstacle courses are a great way to encourage physical development for little ones in a fun and engaging way. If you have the space and can afford it, Foamnasiumclimbing ladders, and climbing towers are the most ideal. For the ultimate enthusiast, a bouldering cave can also be a consideration:

If you’re looking for something simple, easy to install, and removable but won’t cost an arm or a leg, here are some ideas for your home obstacle course to help your child develop their gross motor skills…

Foam floor mats

The ones with alphabets and numbers are great for young children because you can use them to play other games.

Pull up bar

Home Gym - pull up bar

It’s not exactly a brachiation ladder but it’s a start (also much more affordable and space-saving). The kids can practice hanging which is an important first step to brachiation. Most of the time kids can’t play on the monkey bars at the playground because they aren’t strong enough to hold their own weight. Once they’re strong enough to hold their own weight for a period of time, you can teach them the art of brachiating (lots of playgrounds have brachiation ladders):

And if you’re wondering – yes, little girls are quite capable of learning how to brachiate, too. I could brachiate across the full length of a brachiation ladder when I was in kindergarten and I didn’t go through Doman’s Physical Excellence program to do it.

Crawling tunnel

You can get the stand-alone or you can get one that comes as part of a larger package, like the ones from Hide N Side, the Galaxy Dome Tent, or the Playz Store Tent and Tunnels.

Home Gym - tunnel
Home Gym - tent and tunnel
Home Gym - jungle gym

Step stools

A few of those Forsiktig stools from IKEA arranged as “stepping stones” can work pretty well for balance training. Alternatively, if you can find something similar to the Gonge Hilltops (although these are much, much, more expensive for something that works pretty much the same way – additionally, your child can use the Forsiktig stools to help reach sink taps, light switches, etc., so they have added value).

Home Gym - stepping stones
Home Gym - step stools


Balls of all shapes and sizes will never go astray. You can play lots of hand-eye coordination games – throw the ball into the bucket, hoop, basket, etc. Fabric/magnetic dart board sets, velcro ball target game, indoor bowling and ring toss sets are also great for developing hand-eye coordination (although be prepared for the kids to cheat – a lot!).

Home Gym - balls

Climbing Ladder

Rope ladders are great for all-round physical development – make sure you spot your child – or if you have a handy-man step ladder at home, that works pretty well, too.

Photo 13-11-12 22 13 14

While all these are nothing compared to a “real” gym, it can serve as a means to encourage gross motor development and to inculcate an active lifestyle when you can’t bring your child out to the park or to a jungle gym because the weather is bad, there isn’t time, or you don’t really feel like braving the crowd.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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