Guided Play: Obstacle Course, Find the Ball, Give & Take

by Kelsey Norwood

in Family Fun,Kid Stuff

I have started doing “guided play” with Joel for a few minutes after lunch each day. Play is a very important part of learning and cognitive development for babies, and I want him to be learning all the things his brain is ready to learn at this stage. So I’m going to start sharing our little activities with you to give you some ideas for your pre-toddlers/toddlers.

So first I laid out a blanket on the floor because I know that Joel likes to sit on blankets. Besides, they provide a good boundary for our game, and it makes what we’re doing feel special because we don’t usually sit on blankets.

Then I set up a little obstacle course with plastic food containers/tupperware. I helped him walk around the containers, but he didn’t get it. He wanted to stop and pick them all up, so obstacle courses are a little too advanced for a 15 month old. And that’s okay. Our guided play time is all about experimentation and learning. I learned that Joel isn’t ready for that kind of play, so it was a success.

But since we already had the containers out, we played a different game with them. This wasn’t really planned, but I had to be flexible. That’s an important part of guided play.

I placed three opaque containers (sour cream food containers) upside down on the floor in front of Joel and put a ball under one of them. He lifted up the containers and sometimes noticed that a ball was there. Mostly he just enjoyed picking them up, putting them down in different places, stacking them, and watching me move them around. He didn’t really care about finding the ball underneath one of the three containers – another activity that is ahead of him, developmentally. He knows that there is a ball even though he can’t see it, he just doesn’t care about it yet, but he will soon.

From there, I put the little ball in a clear plastic peanut butter container (18oz.). Then I dumped it out and let it roll towards Joel and said, “BOO!” or something other fun exclamation. He picked the ball up and put it back in the container. I dumped it out again. He laughed and laughed and loved this game! I gave him the PB container and let him dump the ball out. Then I got another container so we each had one, and we passed the ball back and forth between our containers.

These little games are simple, but we both had a great time! Playing with your babies is sooo important, because you’re building your relationship through a mutually enjoyed activity. And when you are involved with baby’s play, you can be proactive in using play to teach.


  • lay out a blanket to set a boundary and create a special feeling
  • create an obstacle course with plastic containers, pillows, laundry baskets, etc.
  • hide a ball under one of three plastic containers, placed upside down on the ground
  • pass a ball back and forth between two containers – you get one and baby gets one

{ 1 comment }

1 Jauna September 19, 2008 at 8:15 am

This is soo neat. i am so going to do this for the kiddos at church! i’m sure htey’ll love it.

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