Stuck inside like us? Make an indoor obstacle course to burn some energy and encourage gross motor development through out the dreary winter. I know this isn't a novel idea, but I think we came up with some great ways to move our bodies.
The simplest was the collapsible tunnel that was purchased from a store. This is a great tool to have at home or in a classroom. It is instant fun, drawing kids in like flies. Many kids just like to crawl through, but you can add balls to roll or throw through. For more of a challenge, have the children carry items through the tunnel. It takes more coordination and uses more muscle groups than regular crawling.
Another item we used was wood scraps. This is great because they were *~*free*~* and I LOVE that price. I have two items that we use regularly. One is a set of curved pieces I have from a table-to-ottoman conversion project. The other are 2x4s, sanded to prevent slivers. The children walked or jumped over the curved pieces. It sounds easy, but when your legs are only 12" long it is quite a work out. We lined up the 2x4s and used them as balance beams. Usually these items are used for building and pretend play; it was nice to see them re-imagined into new play things.
I used a box to make a wide hurdle by bending the box lid and taping it into place. The height was relatively low, but harder because they had to take a long step to get over it.
The last thing we added were cardboard dividers, set up sort of like hurdles. These were more steady and for walking over. My two year olds really worked hard to get over the barriers without knocking them down. If they did knocked them down, I showed them how to put it back together and set them to work. My 4 year old kept trying to jump over them - and he nearly could.
To make the hurdles I cut off the top of a long skinny box. Then made pieces I thought were small enough to walk over, but high enough to make it challenging. Next, I cut slits on the board that fit over the edges of the box. The end. It took about 3 minutes and they played with it for an hour. It was great!
Unrelated to the obstacle course, but still for indoor gross motor: see that shiny strip on the floor? It is behind the children. That is another cheap and easy activity. I saved a strip of bubble wrap from a package and tapes the edges under the ends of the hallway rug. It doesn't look pretty, but it is fun. It's great, because we walk through that hallway repeatedly through the day (it connects the classroom to our playroom). The children are hopping, bear crawling, and pushing their hands onto the floor trying to pop all the bubbles all day long. If you do this, keep in mind it is a sheet of plastic. Keep a close eye on how firmly it is attached and remove it if pieces start coming off.