I had been mulling over an idea for a fun Santa-themed obstacle course when I came across the book Shhh! by Julie Sykes. This little gem that had been hidden away in the attic was the perfect guide for creating an obstacle course to challenge gross motor skills and give little ones a glimpse into a day in the life of Santa, so we created a gross motor skills Christmas game!
WHAT YOU’LL NEED: jingle bells, pillows/cushions, 2 paper plates, 5-6 boxes (gift boxes, shoe boxes or you could use cardboard building blocks), a folding tunnel (or you could use a cardboard box with the ends cut off to make your own), a couple of surfaces or obstacles (stool, bench, chair).
WHAT TO DO: Read Shhh! with your kids. Set up an obstacle course so your kids have to perform the following actions just like the Santa in the story:
-Shake jingle bells and sing Jingle Bells
-Climb up and jump off of a stool/bench/chair (flying in the sleigh)
-Trudge through a pile of pillows/cushions (walking through the snow)
-Skating on paper plates and crashing onto the cushions (slipping and falling on the ice)
-Knocking over a stack of boxes (tripping and knocking over the gifts)
-Climb up and jump off of a stool/bench/chair (flying away in the sleigh again)
HOW TO CHANGE IT UP:
-Add other movements to the course! Some examples:
-making snow angels on the rug
-scattering toys on the floor for Santa to navigate/jump over to get to the tree
-climbing through the tunnel (going down the chimney)
-Change up the purpose of the course! You could have your child holding ornaments as he moves through the obstacles to hang on the tree at the end or holding small gift boxes to put under the tree!
-Make it a partner challenge (like our Cooperation Obstacle Course) and tell Santa he has to hold hands with his elf the whole way through the course! You might have to take the tunnel out of the equation for this! :)
SKILL AREAS ADDRESSED: Balance, coordination, endurance, gross motor skills, motor control, proprioception, sensory integration, strength, trunk stability, visual motor integration
Want to take a closer look at the skills kids are using in this activity? Check out our Clinical Closeup page, where we break down the skills listed below in terms everyone can understand.