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Theme Obstacle Courses

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Charlene Schneckenberger from Angola, New York submitted this good gymnastics activity.  Grades K-5.

Background: As I complete my gymnastics unit, I create an obstacle course using various pieces of equipment, i.e. balance beam, parallel bars, mats, ropes, vault, and cargo net. I also use hula hoops, foam hurdles, stepping stones, boxes, and jump ropes. Any equipment that the students climb or jump over, through, or across is appropriate for this activity.

After I set up the course, the gym doors are shut and the classes are introduced to the activity in the hallway. The gym environment becomes part of the story or the theme. Once the theme has been presented, the class enters the gym and proper completion details are given for each obstacle, along with the rest of the directions. Groups must reset the obstacle as they complete them for their friends behind them.

Cooperation: Students work in groups of two or three. The partners/trios are connected by a “cooperation link” – a loosely-fitted piece of velcro that is placed on the wrist of each partner.

Special Note: A new product called “B.K. Partner Straps” works great for this activity. You can purchase these from U.S. Games. Call 1 (800) 327-0484 for more information.

Students MUST stay connected throughout the course! The groups of students start at the various obstacles. This point is their personal start/stop site. If contact is broken, they will return to this site and restart. Students earn a prize (beanbag, tennis ball, etc.) after each successful completion of the obstacle course. “Prizes” are determined by the theme you have created. We have used the themes of “Indiana Jones”, Treasure Island, and Halloween. Each student earns a prize and then must carry that prize with them as they travel through the course again. However, if the prize is dropped, ALL members in that group lose their prize and must restart.

Other Rules: Prizes cannot go in pockets or in mouths. Creative thinking is required to figure out how to carry their bean bags, tennis balls, tennis ball cans, and/or playground balls that they have earned.

For example, in a “Treasure Hunt” theme, the objects are (in order):

1st: Bag of diamonds (a bean bag)

2nd: A jewel (a tennis ball)

3rd: A treasure map (a piece of cardboard)

4th: A treasure chest (football or playground ball)

If a team and successfully completes a trip around the course, they each receive a bean bag to carry. If they complete a second trip successfully, each receives a tennis ball. Now they all must carry a bean bag and a tennis ball. If a teammate drops an object ot any time, then each student in that group surrenders his”treasure” and starts over again.

Grade By Grade Modifications: Here are a few suggestions for making the cooperative theme obstacle course more successful with different grade levels.

Kindergarten: Travel through the course as a regular course without the students having to be connected. have to be connected.

First Grade: Travel connected with no need to earn prizes.

Second – Fifth Grades: Travel connected and earn prizes.

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