I love the Olympics. I don’t watch a lot of sports. Other than my kids playing their Saturday soccer games. Maybe little bits here and there. But I love watching the Olympics every winter and summer they are on. I think my love for the Olympics began in 1984 when the Olympics came to Los Angeles. I was in elementary school, learned about the Olympics and went to my first Olympic game ever – a soccer game. Italy was playing another country, I don’t remember which. I just remember cheering for Italy because they make Ferraris! I was privileged to be in Barcelona in 1992 when the Summer Olympics were there. Being in an Olympic city during the Olympics is so much fun. Such excitement and celebration. So much going on everywhere you turn. I love it! I love the countries of the world coming together. I love the stories behind the athletes and how hard they have worked to be there. It’s so inspiring.
I wanted to share my love of the Olympics with my kids. It’s such a great opportunity to teach about other countries, other cultures. It’s a great chance to have them listen to stories of people who have struggled and sacrificed to accomplish their goals. And to succeed. Or even to fall short or make mistakes and how they handle that disappointment. The Olympics is also a great time to develop pride in our own country as we cheer for Team USA!
We could easily just turn on the TV, the computer, the iPad, and watch the events. But I wanted to get them more involved and excited about the games. We did a few fun projects to get them in the Olympic spirit. We made our own set of Olympic rings using paper plates. We just colored them in with marker and cut a line through to interlock it with the next plate. I put some tape on the back to get them to be secured in the right order. We also made a simple torch with a white piece of construction paper rolled into a cone and taped. Then cut squares of orange, red and yellow tissue paper which we grabbed in the middle and bunched, the glued into the cone. Simple projects, but fun! And we have them on display on the case above the TV where we usually watch the events. We also learned about the meaning of the rings and the Olympic flag and the motto “Faster, Higher, Stronger” and how we can be inspired by that in our lives.
In addition to cheering for Team USA, we each chose another country to cheer for. We looked at the 2008 medals to see the top ten countries that won medals. We each chose a country and located it on a map. We looked up the flag and recreated our own versions with construction paper. Here are the kids with all of their creations:
We took the opportunity to also learn about this year’s host country too. Where is England? What are the different countries that make up Great Britain? What is the climate like in London? What is the population of England and how does it compare with the U.S.? What types of food do they eat there? What is the major religion, language, products they are known for? Try some of the foods they eat. Learn some different words or phrases that are used in British English compared to American English. We’ve also talked about and learned about some of the architectural sites, especially the ones shown frequently around the games.
And of course, we couldn’t leave out the sports themselves. We picked up several books from the library that my kids have enjoyed pouring over, learning about the different sports played in the Olympics. We also borrowed some books about previous Olympians and learned their stories. We have some Olympic-like activities to play also. Get your kids and their friends together for some Olympic fun. Here are a few ideas:
1. Use pool noodles for hurdles
2. Make a ball with aluminum foil and see who can throw it the furthest (like shotput)
3. Tape some straws together to look like a javelin and see how far they can throw it
4. Hang paper plates spaced apart from a tree and have them throw a ball at each one, seeing if they can hit each plate.
5. Have scooter races
The Olympics are a strong tradition in our family. We are enjoying our time together, cheering on our teams. The more they know about London, the sports, the athletes, the more excited my kids are to watch. Involve your kids; make it a fun family time together. Go Team USA!!!