Do your kids like to play spy games?
Will they fearlessly face danger to retrieve secret treasures?
They’re in luck. Here’s a mission (if they choose to accept it) that requires courage, supreme cleverness and agility.
Only the wiliest secret agents need proceed.
In this article I’ll show you how to transform simple string into an obstacle course that will have your kids twisting and turning their way to secret treasures.
Mission Impossible? More like Mission Awesome! Read on to learn how to set up this challenge.
Why a String Laser Maze?
In the movies, you often see spies go through extreme obstacle courses to get where they need to go. In this activity, we replace lasers with string to simulate a safe, fun spy mission for your kids.
To reach the treasure, your kids will not only have to think their way through the maze, but also their bodies will get a great workout. How many shapes can they bend their bodies into as they weave through the web of laser string?
You’ll have so much fun watching them, you’ll want to try it yourself.
Before you start this adventure, sit down with your kids and talk about their favorite spy stories. Are they Spy Kids fans, Mission Impossible nuts or do they like new favorite Spy School or the old standby Harriet the Spy? Tell them why you like spy movies too.
We’ve all seen movies where the spy has to get through the laser maze. Now you can create your own at home. Image source: iStockPhoto.
To prepare for the mission, ask your kids questions: What gear do spies need? How do spies dress? What’s the best kind of treasure? What are the best and worst parts of being a spy?
The more you talk about spy games, the more engaged they’ll get. And it will be even more fun for you to create a spy experience for your kids.
Before you get started, create a backstory for the adventure and get input from your kids. What kinds of spies are they? What are their spy code names? Is the treasure in a secure building, on a heavily guarded island or somewhere else?
It’s fun if you really get into it. Create a story, wear costumes and invent code names! Image source: iStockPhoto.
Have someone write down these decisions, so you have a record of each spy adventure. You can even have them write short stories about the adventure and turn them into a book. Younger kids can draw a picture. Or record it on video and make your own spy movie.
Whether your kids work alone or in a group, this activity is for aspiring agents of any age.
You Will Need
- Any type of string, at least 10 yards (9.144 meters)
- Start and end point
- Treasure: a basket or box and objects to put in it
- Pen and paper (optional)
- Costumes (optional)
- Miscellaneous props and obstacles (optional)
- Bells (optional)
- Inside your home—down a hallway is ideal
- Or outside—if you have enough anchor points at various heights
Code names: check. Spy costumes (usually spies wear all black so they can’t be seen, but you can also have them dress in disguise): check. Ball of string: check.
Ball of string: check!
Now, let’s go set up the laser maze!
#1: Select Your Course
Take a walk around your home with your kids and scope out the best place for the mission. You want to find somewhere narrow enough to place your string across. A hallway, for example, is perfect.
A hallway with a start and end point is ideal for your laser maze.
If you have enough string, you can use an entire room or a backyard space to set up your maze.
For an extra big-kid challenge, string your maze on a stairway. Banisters are great for winding the string around.
As long as you have a start and end point—and all secret agents know where the treasure is and where it needs to go—the mission is achievable.
#2: Plant Treasure at Your End Point
Your mission is to retrieve the treasure at the end of the maze and return it to its rightful place at the start point. Simple, right?
So, take a treasure box or basket and fill it with objects such as small toys or costume jewelry. Bonus points for matching the treasure to the storyline you created. Now, place it at your maze’s end point.
You can use any type of treasures. More objects in the treasure box mean more trips through the maze.
The more awkward the treasure’s location, the more challenging the mission will be.
Remember, your kids will need to weave through the maze without touching the string in order to collect the treasure without getting zapped! Keep that in mind when you place your treasure box.
#3: Construct Your Maze
Zigzag your string at varying heights down the hall or from anchor point to anchor point until you are happy with your string maze.
Don’t make the maze too easy. Be sure to weave high and low.
You don’t need to use tape to stick the string to the wall. You can wind the string around anything: doorknobs, boxes, furniture, large toys and other items heavy enough to use as anchors.
It doesn’t take much effort to keep the string taut across a narrow path.
NOTE: Don’t use anything that may topple over and break. Remember, the object is to get through the maze without touching the string. However, you don’t want to cause injury—or a huge mess—if the spy happens to trigger the laser string.
#4: Complete the Mission
Now, send your kids off on their mission!
From the start point, your kids need to twist, turn, climb and crawl their way through the maze. Once they get to the treasure, they need to bring it back with them through the maze.
Remind them: “Whatever you do, DON’T TOUCH THE LASER STRING!”
Retrieve the treasures one at a time or all together, whatever you decide as a group. Plus, the same rules apply to ALL agents. For example, if one child has pockets but others do not, they are not allowed to stuff the treasure into their pockets. Fairness is an important part of the mission.
Crawl through and try not to touch the string!
Secret agents are notoriously competitive. Try having your kids race against the clock or write down and compare times for each active agent. Don’t forget to record a video.
Phew. At last, the treasure is safely back where it belongs.
Parents, you can try it too! You know you want to go through the string maze.
#5: Make it Extra Fun
If your kids think weaving through the string maze is a snap, here are some variations that might add challenge and intrigue to the mission:
- Change the course.
- Decorate the string or hallway with toy creepy crawlies or ferocious animals to add to the danger.
- Introduce other obstacles to avoid like boxes or cushions.
- Plant more or different-sized treasures within the maze and attempt to retrieve them en route.
- Try moving through the maze with both hands clasped together in front of you, but only if you can do it safely.
- Add bells to the laser string so that even the slightest touch will set off an
- If string isn’t enough, insert other items and obstacles (like crocodiles).
Whatever you do, plan and complete this mission as a family. You can try this different ways and make it a different adventure each and every time.
Some Final Thoughts…
Thanks to your hard work, “mission impossible” is now a mission fun adventure that you can do over and over again.
As your flexibility increases, you may be surprised at how much your sneaky spy skills improve.
Don’t forget to come up with a story, so you can keep track of all of your different laser maze adventures.