Context for this Strategy
Collection of random objects and a blindfold
Obstacle Course is a strategy in which an individual or group navigates a blindfolded person through a series of obstacles without touching them. This strategy is used to work on sensory perception and clarity of directions. It can be used to metaphorically explore the types of conflict or “Obstacle Courses” in an event, situation, or relationship.
Introduce the activity: Our goal is to navigate a blindfolded volunteer through a series of obstacles to reach a specific destination. Brainstorm verbal directional vocabulary that could be used to navigate the volunteer (step right/left, turn 45 degrees/90 degrees, step north/south/east/west, take a small/medium/large step). Next, select a volunteer who is willing to be blindfolded and directed by others. Invite the volunteer to leave the room or to put on the blindfold and sit outside the playing area. Then, the rest of the students place various objects (boxes, chairs, books, crumpled paper, shoes, etc.) across the playing area. After the obstacles are placed, students sit around the border of the playing space. The volunteer, with blindfold, is placed on one end of the space. The students offer verbal directions to the volunteer – one phrase of instruction per person. If the volunteer touches one of the obstacles, the attempt is over. The entire group talks about what happened, how to improve, and tries again with a new volunteer and layout of obstacles.
- On a scale of 1 – 10 how successfully did we play this activity? Why?
- What strategies did you or the group use to make the journey as safe and successful as possible? What adjustments did we make throughout the activity?
- Why do you suppose some people say life is like an Obstacle Course?
- Give precise directions—how many inches or centimeters do they need to move?
- If you are trying to cross the field, listen carefully and only do what your navigator tells you.
- How can we clarify what, exactly, our directions mean?
- Reading/Writing: Explore characters from fiction. An example is Romeo’s journey from Romeo and Juliet. Students can use lines of the text to represent various forces and stand in as the various objects (“mines”) whispering the lines of text as Romeo navigates the space. Another participant (or students) represent Juliet who works to verbally navigate Romeo through the space.
- Social Studies: In a unit on US History, have students represent the obstacles that Native Americans faced as they were forced to leave their homes during the Trail of Tears.