“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” –Olympic Creed
Here are some tips and activities plus 11 Fun Games to create your very own Backyard Olympic Games and promote:
Friendship* Fair Play* Peace *Honor * Glory
*Collect some equipment around the house that may be transformed into games, like balls, hula hoops, balloons, pool noodles…*You may want to find a whistle and a timer too. *Customize your Olympic games by creating an opening ceremony with some music and dancing *Let children pick out the country they wish to represent or create new country names! *Design your own achievement and participation medals. *Design, color or sew country flags. *Create team t-shirts. *Write out a team motto “We can do it!” or “I’m in it not just to win it!” … *Build Olympic torches *Cook up meals from around the world. *Invite children to draw Olympic inspired pictures to hang around the house. *Make a flag banner.*Don’t feel like you need to make a huge production, simple fun is great!
Build your own Olympics with these 11 fun games!
Potato Sack Hopping: Use pillow cases, garbage bags, garden bags or potato sacks, set up the start and finish lines (side walk chalk or masking tape work well) and race!
Ball Toss: Using hulla hoops or chalk create several circles on the ground and write different numbers inside each circle. Children can take turns tossing balls and counting how many points they score based on where the ball lands. For toddlers, draw pictures instead and toddlers may enjoy telling how their ball landed by the “bead” by the “hat” etc…
Endurance Hula Hooping: Using a timer invite children to spin a hula hoop with various body parts until the hula hoop falls. Children can try to beat their own times, figure out which way they hoop the longest, discover new and funny ways to try to make it go round and around like spinning the hoop with an ankle while waving hands in the air!
Obstacle Racing: If you have some yard space or safe drive way space, create a few obstacles with hula hoops, pool noodles, chairs, carboard boxes and masking tape. Set them up into a racing path. On your mark, get set, Go!
Balloon Volleyball: Using a long piece of string set up a mock volley ball court. Introduce a balloon and encourage children to keep passing it from side to side without letting it drop!
Equestrian Racing: No worries, real horses not needed! Have a toy pony stick, great! If not, grab some broom sticks and either get crafty with construction paper and make some horse faces or just imagine the brooms as horses. Set up a track – circular or straight line, whatever suits your space and race! You can add a soft ball or balloon and designate two goal posts to create a game of hockey too!
Fencing: Using balloon swords, toy swords or taping together tons of cardboard tubes all make great props for a fencing duel! Make sure to set some safety guidelines ahead of time.
Water Balloon Basketball: Set up a hoop or create one with a hulla hoop and masking tape and play basketball but instead of a ball, fill up a ton of water balloons. Players will have to carry and toss balloons to one another and then get to watch the balloons splatter down as they score. Balloons may splatter all over players too. Want less mess? Substitute with a regular balloon and add silly rules like “pass only with your elbows” or “each player can only take two steps and then must freeze”
Backyard Golf: Set up some home made obstacles like lawn chairs on their side, sand buckets on the ground and use a mini golf set (or carboard tubes taped together) to putt around some balls. A lot of fun and creativity can go into building a fun “mini” golf course!
Three Legged Race: Set up a start and finish line. Pair up the kids and using an elastic band or scarf tie together one left and one right leg for a classic three legged race. Children also love to race tied up to mom or dad. A sure way to a lot of laughter are mom and dad trying to race together!
The Triathlon: Set up a kids pool, get out the trikes & bikes and set up a start and finish line for a race. Decide on how long each activity should be done and….go!
All of these activities are great opportunities for children to practice coordination, gross motor skills, team work, taking turns, listening. There are also many learning opportunities like simple math when counting time and points, using creativity skills to set up games plus an invaluable opportunity to spend time as a family!
A note on competition & medals: Knowing your child(ren) decide how medals will or will not be awarded. In the spirit of the Olympic games having gold, silver and bronze medals may be a good exercise in losing and winning but it does depend on the children’s personalities, temperament, how they usually play together and how these are handed out. The games should be about having fun together, having a chance to play and learn. With that in mind the medals are best used as a fun part of the games not used as bribes or for creating conflict. If the competitiveness will take away from the spirit of trying and having fun, then perhaps participation medals with positive messages like “You Did it!” or a simple “My Olympic Medal” to give to all may be a great route to take.
Are you doing anything to share the Olympic Spirit with your children?