Health & Medical Parenting

Summer Olympic Games and Activities for Kids

Will you be tuning into the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London? Not only is all the action exciting to watch, but the competitions are a great learning opportunity for your preschooler. Certainly world geography andthe different cultures are things you can talk about (the opening and closing ceremonies are great for this), but the message of the games themselves -- sportsmanship, friendship and peace are important ones for preschoolers to learn. These games and activities will help your preschooler learn more about the games while having fun too!

What and Where are the Summer Olympic Games?

Before the summer games air talk to your preschooler about what they are all about. Keep it simple -- watching the games will explain much, but it is still helpful to give some context. Every four years, people from around the world come together to play sports. Some are events your little one is likely familiar with -- running, swimming, basketball -- while others they may not be -- archery, handball, judo. There are Olympics held in both the summer and the winter and countries get to take turns hosting the games. Show your preschooler a world map and point out London. Where is it in relation to your house? As you watch the games, ask your preschooler what is different about London from the United States. What is the same?

Become a Fan

To really help your little one connect to the games in London, do some research to find out if there are any athletes from your town, area or barring that, state, competing. Try your best to follow this person as they make their journey. If not, choose your preschooler's favorite sport and make it a point to tune in to those games. Certainly cheer on your favorite team and competitors, but talk about everyone who is playing. How far did they have to travel to get to London? What color uniform do they wear? What does their flag look like?

Make an Olympic Flag

The Olympic flag is a true symbol of sportsmanship, friendship and peace. Consisting of five colored interlocking circles that represent the five major areas of the world -- Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania, the flag can be found everywhere at the Olympic games. Let your preschooler make her own version of the flag using white paper and colored markers or by cutting out colored strips of paper (use safety scissors) and gluing them together for a 3D version. Be sure to keep your child's flag handy to wave as she watches the games. You can also let your child make their own American flag or the flag of another country to wave while you watch the games.

Host Your Own Preschool Olympic Games

Get together your child's preschool playgroup (or call a bunch of friends) and hold your own Olympic Games. You can either play pint-sized versions of the real games or, for more fun, make up your own. Good games to consider playing include:
  • Team games you play with a ball
  • Relay races
  • Bean bag toss
  • Foot race
  • Walking across a balance beam
  • Somersault competition
  • Three-legged race
  • Jumping (who jumps the highest? The furtherest?
  • Water balloon toss

When the competitions are over, hand out medals (see below) and then dine on kid-friendly fare from different countries -- try dishes from Greece and the U.K. to start, ask guests to bring something that stems from their own heritage. If you've made or have flags, hold opening and closing ceremonies.

Make Your Own Medals

One of the most touching parts of the Olympic Games are the medal ceremonies, especially watching the reaction of the athletes as they see their country's flag being raised and their anthem being played. Let your child make his own Olympic medals using white cardboard circles either painted or colored with crayons or markers and then secured with ribbon. Tie loosely around his neck.

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