What can I say? I love a reason to have a party, and the Olympics are a fabulous reason to have fun with your kids! This year the opening ceremony starts August 5 in Rio de Janeiro and I can’t wait! I’m not exactly a sports fan, but there’s something magical about the Olympics. The whole world coming together in a positive way cheering each other on despite political differences is a pretty powerful thing. Plus I have such fond memories of watching Kim Zmeskel and Kristi Yamaguchi and Peekaboo Street as a kid. What a great time to find some positive role models for your kids (or learn some lessons in sportsmanship...I’m looking at you, Tonya Harding!) Summer Olympics are a little more exciting to me than the winter ones, but I’m glad they are separate events so I don’t have to wait 4 years in between them! There are so many artistic, educational, edible, and athletic events that you can do with your kids either for an opening ceremony party or just throughout the weeks of the Olympics. Here are some ideas to get you started in the right direction!
Think of iconic Olympics images: the torch, the laurel wreath, the rings, the medals, and the flags representing the countries. Most likely you can use items around your house to make one of these things. A toilet paper roll and tissue paper can make a torch, construction paper and paper plates can be a wreath to wear, colored construction strips can be fashioned to make a paper chain with the Olympic colors or your country’s colors, paint a few flags and hang them in a banner, or use ribbon and foil to make medals. Those are some simple ideas. My daughter and I made headband pieces years ago and she remembers them and gets them out to wear each time the Olympics roll around! It’s just rolled up scrap fabric hot glued on felt.
What’s a party without some delicious food? Using those same common themes mentioned about you can easily make tasty treats while you watch your favorite event. Graham crackers and icing can make flags, use fruit or pepperoni to make a flag pizza or the rings, golden oreos and fruit by the foot can make medals, and cones and orange sherbet make torches. Think about which sport is your favorite and see if you can recreate it using food items. Here is a pool we made for the last summer Olympics. My friend made a cheese luge once for the winter Olympics. This year we might attempt a gymnastics cake with teddy graham athletes!
Now is a great time to introduce your kids to other cultures. Watch the opening ceremonies and look up the countries on a globe or atlas as the athletes enter with their flags. Visit your library and check out books on other countries. Venture out to some of the restaurants listed in our Global eating guide right here in OKC. Pick a new country each day of the Olympics and look up a few facts about that country to make a chart and compare. What animals live there, what is the weather like there, what language do they speak, how are they like America, how are they different. You may not be able to ever go to the Olympics but you can give your child a cultural experience by participating in some of these ways.
Another great way to get your kids up and moving this summer is to set up a mini Olympics in your yard. Make a balance beam out of stumps and boards, spray paint a race track with a jump rope finish line, synchronized swimming…even in a kiddie pool, badminton and volleyball sets are pretty cheap and easy to set up, or make a mini golf course using all sorts of items in your garage. You can also make up your own olympic games: bean bag toss in a bucket, biggest splash in the kiddie pool, slip n slide races, or sling shots and tin cans. Even those crazy minute to win-it type games could be fun!
Even if you don’t want to host a party with these elements you can still have fun with your kids doing some of these activities during the month of August while you watch the Olympics and chant USA! USA! USA! What ideas do you have?