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Obstacle Medley

Students run a course with a variety of obstacles—anything but a straight line, even backwards

Objective and overview: Students encourage their teammates as each student completes a course that incorporates running with a variety of obstacles, developing fitness and fundamental athletic skills that will improve running and general athletic ability.
Standards:

National Standards for Physical Education (NASPE)
Standard 1
Standard 2
Standard 5
Standard 6

New York State Education Department (NYSED)
Standard 1
Standard 2

Time Required: 20 minutes
Materials: No specific materials are required, but you can choose various materials to create your own obstacle course (read more about this below). Some of those materials might include cones, hula-hoops, beanbags, jump ropes, hurdles, etc. Be creative!

Prepare for the Activity

  • Watch the Obstacle Medley video below to get some ideas for setting up your own obstacle course.
  • Decide what materials, if any, you want to incorporate in your course.
  • Devise your game and set up your course. Here are two examples of obstacle courses, one with equipment, one with no equipment:
  • With equipment: Set up cones so that kids have to run zigzag through them. Then, have an open area in which they have to run backward. Have a jump rope waiting for them after this open area; they must jump five times before sprinting back to the start and crawling through a “leg tunnel” made by their teammates. Then the next person on their team starts the next leg of the relay.
  • Without equipment: Kids could sprint for the initial part of the course, crawl like crabs for the second part, and hop on one foot for the third part.
  • The variations for courses and equipment are endless—set it up as you want. The main focus is to simply make it fun for the kids to engage in different activities that promote general fitness and athletic skills while incorporating running.

INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEO

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Obstacle Medley

A game that is great exercise and develops athletic skills.

Click here to access on Teacher Tube

Introduce the Activity

  • Explain to kids that you've set up an obstacle course. It incorporates running as well as other challenges that may test their strength, balance, coordination, agility, and speed—all of which will make them better runners and athletes. But mostly, it will be fun!
  • Tell them how to navigate the course. As you tell them, demonstrate what you want them to do during each part of the course.

Conduct the Activity

  1. Divide the kids into teams.
  2. Start the first runner on each team. Talk the kids through each part of the course, helping them remember what they are to do (e.g., run backward or jump rope five times).
  3. As a runner finishes, the next teammate takes off.
  4. The teams continue until all runners have completed the course; the goal is to complete it as quickly as possible.
  5. Cheer the kids on!

Assess the Students

What to watch for:

  • Make sure the kids know how to properly complete each segment of the course, and be ready to give guidance during each segment.
  • Watch for safety. Don't let kids go so fast they risk hurting themselves on an obstacle.

Direction cues to share with students:

  • Obstacle courses create too much excitement to focus on form, but offer tips as necessary to help students complete each segment of the course as fast as possible while still doing it correctly.

Discussion

After they complete Obstacle Medley, talk to your kids about their experience. Consider questions such as:

  • What was the hardest part of the obstacle course? Why?
  • What are ways we could have made the course harder?
  • Should we make it harder the next time we do this game?
  • What are fun obstacles that you would like to do?
  • Do you think this will help you be a better runner? Why? (You are practicing speed, developing strength and power, improving fitness so you can run longer, and, depending on the activities, might also be using agility and balance or coordination, which helps with your stability when running.)

Modifications

  • Create different obstacle courses each time you use this game, ask your students to come up with obstacles.
  • Try to include a variety of movement skills: running, hopping, hurdling, jumping, bending, etc.
  • Experiment with both dividing into multiple-person teams and having one-on-one course matches. If you do the latter, do your best to match kids of equal abilities.

Inclusion Strategies

Classrooms are filled with learners who demonstrate a variety of needs and abilities, including ESL students, those with disabilities, and gifted/talented students. Consider these adaptations as you work to modify the lesson for student success.

  • Have arrows, tape, or rope to designate where each team will go and where it will finish.
  • Give each team colored flags or shirts to designate who is on which team.
  • Allow students to walk through the activity multiple times.
  • Have students run with a partner, so they know where they are going to go.
  • If one student is a chair user, ask another student to be in a chair as well (if possible, have all the children in chairs).
  • Have students travel in different ways: walking, jogging, sprinting.
  • Have one big group relay competing for time, so the class isn’t divided.

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