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Have you caught Olympic fever yet? I love the summer Olympics and have fond memories of wearing my Mary Lou Retton leotard until it fell apart when I was a kid. I probably spent hours practicing handstands in my backyard.
There are a lot of great lessons you can teach your kids while watching the Olympics: team spirit, the value of hard work and dedication, and good sportsmanship to name a few. While the Olympics are on these next couple weeks, try teaching these lessons with a few activities to get your kids in the spirit of the games. They’ll get a great workout, too!
Here are some fun suggestions for creating mini Olympics in your own backyard.
Relay Race: Gather your kids and a few of their friends and set up some relay races! Go old school and pull out the potato sacks or create a three-legged race. Or, try something new like having each kid in the relay do something different: running, crawling, jumping, skipping, rolling … the possibilities are endless.
Gymnastics: Make a list of a few simple gymnastic skills like cartwheel, head stand, handstand, tucked roll, leap, splits. Give your kids the list a few days before your backyard “Olympics.” Next, set up a “balance beam” in your yard. Just buy a beam at your local hardware store and lay it on the ground, it should only be a few inches off the ground.
On the day of your Olympics, have each child perform the skills and a short routine on the beam (beam routines should only involve little hops, skipping or turning—nothing too fancy!). Make score cards and judge fairly!
Long Jump: Have a sand box? Even if you don’t, you can teach your kids how to run and jump long. This is easy to measure and fun for kids to practice over and over again.
Hurdles: Set up some mini hurdles (buckets, boxes or any other household item) and get your kids running and jumping!
Swimming: If you have a pool, you’ll definitely want to create some swimming competitions. If not, try hitting up your local pool during non-peak hours and setting up some races for your kids and their friends. You never know, you may have the next Michael Phelps on your hands!
At the end of your backyard Olympics, set up some podiums with old milk crates or boxes. Present your gold, silver and bronze “medals” to the winners (make your own or give out fun prizes like squirt guns or bags of water balloons).