10 Ways to Teach Your Kids about the World through the Summer Olympics
The Summer Olympic Games offer a great way to bring your family together and expose your children to new cultures, places, and sports, as well as lessons in teamwork and sportsmanship. This years Summer Olympics are being held in London (www.London2012.com) , starting July 27th and ending August 12th.
Here at Little Pim we’ve come up with 10 ways to help kids engage with the Summer Olympics while learning about the world and having fun! Most of these activities are appropriate for ages 3 and up.
1. History of the Games
The Olympic Games are certainly fun to watch, but they also have a rich history. Tell your kids about how the ancient Greeks started the games to honor their gods and goddesses. This is also a great time to slip in a lesson on the Olympic flag whose five rings represent the five major land areas and the field of white represents peace.
2. Create A Dream Team
Have each child assemble a Dream Team of his or her favorite athletes from around the world. It’s a great way to practice budding writing skills—or make a collage! Select a few to focus on and learn about each athlete’s event and country or nation of origin. Make flags to support your athletes and if they win an event, celebrate by singing their national anthem or making a special treat from their homeland!
3. Medal Pool
Assign each child in your home (or team up with another family) a country for one of your family’s favorite events. If that country wins any medals, give the winning country’s patron a special prize. A great way to celebrate victory is by cooking/buying something from that nation or playing the national anthem. Taking on a country to support is a great way to expose kids to new places and people- help them do some research on their country and make flags to cheer on your team. You can also post a kid-friendly map of the world to help them see where these countries are. Here is one we like!
4. Geography Game
Every time a new country wins a medal, help your kids find it on the globe or map. If they can name a major city in that country they get points. You get extra points for knowing some words in that country’s language or languages!
5. Olympic Torch Obstacle Course
Kick off the Olympics with your own Olympic Torch run. Set up an outdoor obstacle course at dusk, and send each child through with a lit flashlight. Time their speed and the winner gets to pick the first event that your family watches! Here’s the schedule.
6. Create your own Olympic Games
Set up a series of fun outdoor activities for your kids and make it into your own mini-Olympics. Beanbag tosses, three-legged races, and jumping contests can all be incorporated into the Olympics theme. The winners of the events get to wear homemade medals. Make sure there are prizes for all participants and runners-up so no one feels left out.
Have your family create their own mascots for their countries or Dream Teams. Stuffed animals make great mascots and having your kids involve their favorite toys will help them stay engaged in watching the events.
Preparing to sit down as a family and watch something together means you will have to have some snacks on hand. Make cooking into a cultural event! Make something from a different country represented in the games. Or, make Olympic ring cookies that your kids can decorate with different colors of frosting or sugar.
9. Flags of the World and Coloring Pages
There is no shortage of available Olympic-themed coloring pages and teaching tools online. A great way to help your kids stay engaged while you’re watching the games as a family is to have them color in these pages (good for an activity during commercials too). They can decorate your house with flags of the world or pictures of their favorite athletes and events.
10. Viewing Parties
Some families like to get together and have neighborhood Summer Olympics viewing parties. You could even have different rooms be focused on different activities—some for learning, some for play, some for food, and some for watching the games!
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