Introduction: Lego Obstacle Course - for Kids
In prior Instructables I outlined why I was making a Lego Obstacle Course. Essentially, my son had his 9 year old birthday party at home. He LOVES Legos. And I mean he really LOVES them. So, for his birthday, I created an entire obstacle course in the backyard with a Lego theme. I've make two other Instructables on some of the stations I used including a Lego Laser Target station and a Lego pressure sensor station. Now I decided to go ahead and list the entire course.
Note: For privacy reasons, I have redacted the identities of all kids involved in the party. I do not want any parents mad at me for showing their kids images online with any identifying elements.
Step 1: Pre-Party Fun
The obstacle course was built and ready in the backyard. However, as kids arrived for the party we did not want them climbing all over it. We wanted to keep them separate from the course so it would be a surprise when we went outside. So, inside, we had them playing with a couple of buckets of Legos and two foldable Lego tables (tables part of separate instructable). So the Lego tables entertained the kids in the front living room until all of them arrived. We then went into the backyard and started the time trials.
Step 2: Course
The course was pretty simple. A small visual representation of the course is listed above. The kids begin at the start mark. They go over the balance beam, with hot lava underneath, then over to a small climbing Lego wall with Lego bricks (2X4 wood pieces) to assist, then over to the basket throw (instructable found here), then over to the tire jumps (represented by rope strung up so areas to jump and place their feet are evident), then over to the army crawl through a tunnel, then over two hurdles, then around the tree, grab a rope and swing across the river, then over the Lego lava pit with Lego bricks to jump to as the only means to cross, then a dash to the finish line. The map is not to scale so the finish line was technically in between the tire jumps and basket throw.
Each kid was given a time trial to see who could do it the fastest. Afterwards, we went inside to a Lego Laser Target Shooting station where the kids could shoot at Lego bad guys with real lasers (instructable found here). They thought it was fun.
Step 3: Balance Beam
Pretty self-explanatory. Took a $1 plastic table cloth from the Dollar Store (red) and laid it out on the ground. Took three 6X12X4 inch concrete blocks. Printed off "Lego" circles on different color paper and laminated them so the concrete blocks looked like Lego blocks. Ran a 12 foot 2X4 cross the blocks and walla! A Lego balance beam across hot Lego lava.
Step 4: Climbing Wall
Again, pretty simple. A 36X48X1 inch piece of plywood. Painted it green like a Lego block. Dug a small channel in the round to allow for leveling and a little stability. Drew circles in a proper Lego pattern so the plywood resembled a Lego block from the front. Took 3 2X4X5 blocks and screwed them to plywood to allow the kids to step and climb. Drilled four holes in the top of the plywood and ran rope through and around in order to affix the plywood to my wooden deck railing. Most of the kids were 8 or 9 and did not have any trouble climbing over the wall. We did have a sibling of about 5 who had a little more difficulty.
Step 5: Basket Throw
The main bad guy in The Lego Movie is called Lord Business. His minions are Lego robots called Micro-Managers. I created an obstacle station where the kids could throw a rubber gre*$#*d at a basket and a pressure sensor caused the manager to get blown down to the ground. The Instructable for that station can be found here.
Note: I used the term "gre*$#*d" above on purpose. In the station Instructable I used the proper term which means a small device where you pull a pin, throw it and a few seconds later it explodes. That Instructable was caught in the Instructables.com's filter apparently because I used that term. So, now I just call the station the basket throw.
Step 6: Tire (rope Really) Obtacle
I did not have any tires to use for the kids to run over, putting their feet in each tire as they ran. So, I made 8 wooden stakes which we pounded into the ground but left 5 inches above ground. I drilled holes in each stake, rand some wire through the hole, ran the wire through a 1" washer, then ran purple rope through each washer (sorry no pics of that). I wound the rope around the stakes to create an obstacle for the kids to run through.
Step 7: Tunnel
I wanted to create an obstacle similar to a barbed wire crawling obstacle used in military training. Obviously could not use real barbed wire so needed a substitute. I could have done a lot of different things but I opted to go with just a dark sheet to create a tunnel. Mainly, I thought the kids would like it better.
I made 6 wooden stakes from 2X2s. They were 28" tall, with the wood cut into a point at the end to allow for better yard penetration. I hammered each into the ground until it stood 23" above ground. I took an old black sheet from a king sized bed and stabled it to the wooden stakes. And that became the tunnel.
Step 8: Hurdles
The hurdles were very simple to make. I took 3/4 in PVC pipe and cut 5 sections of 24" each. I then used 4 elbows to configure a hurdle. I originally wanted to make the foot supports going out both ends of the hurdle. However, after looking around the internet I realized people only had the footer supports on one side. It eventually became apparent to me why. . . when the kids jump over the hurdle, if they miss, the hurdle is designed to fall down. Otherwise, the hurdle would stay up and trip the kids causing them to fall flat on their faces. So, the hurdles have only two footers pointing in one direction. Those footers are placed towards the running kid so if the kid misses, the hurdle will fall back but not trip anyone.
Step 9: Rope Swing
This ended up being more complex than I expected, but I'll spare you the details. In the end, I just took a $1 plastic table cover (blue) and used plastic stakes to affix to the ground. I hung a knotted rope from the tree so they kids could swing over the "river." I actually took an old shoulder strap from a briefcase of mine and attached it to the knotted rope. This created a foot harness where the kids could put a foot in the harness to help them swing across. It worked pretty well, although a few kids forgot to remove their foot and they swung back across the river. After a few times around the course, however, most of the kids would forgo the rope and just jump the river.
Note: In the picture you may see I removed the concrete tree circle. This was done in case one of the kids fell while swinging. I did not want them hitting their heads on concrete edges.
Step 10: Lego Lava Bricks
The last obstacle in the course was to jump from Lego brick to Lego brick to cross the lava. Again, used a $1 plastic table cover to represent the lava. I used several concrete bricks placed on the lava to represent stepping stones. We printed Lego circles, laminated them and placed them on the concrete blocks so they looked like Lego bricks. The kids had a blast jumping from brick to brick to avoid the lava.
Step 11: On to the Finish Line
We used yard paint to spray arrows around the course so the kids would know where to go and which station was next.
Step 12: Laser Target Practice
Next we went inside for some laser target practice. This station's Instructable can be found here. It was more of a complex build than I originally thought, but it went over very well. The kids shot a toy gun affixed with a 5mW laser light at Micro-Manager targets. The targets had embedded photocells so if they hit the target, the target lite up with LEDs, and some more lights and motion objections were triggered.
Step 13: Lego Brick Pinata
After the course and laser practice, we took all the kids back outside for a pinata made to look like a Lego Brick. I do not have any photos of this creation process since it was my wife who made it. Basically, she took an old Mountain Dew box (which has very thin cardboard), cut some slices in the sides to weaken it, wrapped it in crey paper (blue), wrapped some cut off cans in paper and affixed them to the box. The result was a very Lego looking block full of candy.
Step 14: And Lastly. . . a Water Balloon Fight Followed by Squirt Guns
Technically the water balloon fight was not part of the build. However it closed out the backyard fun. There was cake and present opening somewhere in there as well, but again, not part of the build.
All-in-all the course was a fun design and build and it made many 8 and 9 year olds very happy. However, next time I will use a ladder instead of climbing the tree myself to attach the rope. My back has informed me I'm not as young as I like to remember.