Build a kid-friendly winter obstacle course inspired by U-M gardens, arboretum staff

Child in the snow. (Pixabay)

ANN ARBOR – Staff at the University of Michigan’s Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum have been hard at work crafting outdoor activity guides for children during their first winter in quarantine.

To help beat the winter blues, families are encouraged to venture outdoors to play, spend time together and get some fresh air.

Whether that means participating in Matthaei-Nichols’ #everydayoutdoors challenge which gives you ideas to engage in nature every day for a month, or any of its nature play pop-up-at-home suggestions, the goal is to foster learning experiences for children who are mostly at home right now.

“Play is a means of deep learning for young children,” reads a statement on the Matthaei-Nichols website. “In Gaffield Children’s Garden, we provide rich, open-ended nature play experiences.

“We are committed to it, knowing that these experiences will become an essential part of the child, will be transformed into intellectual pursuits, imaginative pursuits, support physical and emotional health, and promote positive regard for the Earth now and into adulthood. We encourage families to participate and replicate what we do here, in their own homes, apartments, and parks.”

One such activity is constructing a winter obstacle course.

According to U-M staff, any materials in your home or yard can be used and creativity is encouraged. Obstacle courses can also be built in parks and nature areas.

They posted this obstacle course over the weekend:

Anything can be used to construct the obstacle course -- snow balls, sticks, stumps and rope, to name a few items. Make sure you associate a mission with the course: “Let’s hop over three snowballs, circle the stump two times and sprint to the tree.”

To see the full guide on creating a fun winter obstacle course, click here.

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.