Much like the training soldiers go through, obstacle courses can be an awesome way to get your children's energy out and calm them down, as well as help them along with their physical fitness. Creating an obstacle course in your own backyard isn't an expensive endeavor, not if you're willing to reuse common items instead of buying fancy ones. Try some of these ideas and watch your children scramble their way around your backyard or hallways!
Cardboard boxes, when the ends are cut off, make excellent tunnels. You can collect boxes from friends who just moved, or keep them around when Christmas packages get mailed to you, and then slice off the ends (or use them to reinforce the sides -- tape them as extra wall liner) and line them up. Make sure the boxes are big enough for your children to scramble through, although it should not be as easy as crawling on all fours; if they have to crawl commando-style, the better for their exercise needs.
A classic fort ingredient, sheets draped over chairs make great tunnels to navigate as well. Even chairs by themselves, if they are just four legs without poles in between to prevent crawling, can make good ingredients to your obstacle course. Maybe you find yourself without enough boxes and need a few more tunnel segments; go grab your dining room chairs and line them up too. Or, if you're making the ground (or carpet) "lava" to make the obstacle course more difficult, you can drape blankets or sheets over the chairs and have your children jump from chair to chair.
Hula hoops aren't just for dogs! If you suspend a hoop above the ground, it can be the part of the obstacle course where your child jumps through and lands in a roll. Make sure your youngster knows how to safely roll! (They should not roll straight down their spine, or injury can occur; they must roll diagonally across their back.)
For a bear walk or for weaving back and forth, sticks, embedded in the ground or laid flat, are a good part of an obstacle course. Lay them flat and parallel with each other, and your child must hop from space to space, maintaining balance and avoiding the sticks themselves. Embed the sticks in the ground vertically, and your child must run between them as fast as possible. (Those make a great part of a timed obstacle course!)
Get more supplies for your obstacle course at garage sales this shopping season!