Watching the Olympics on television is cool, but participating in your own backyard Olympics with your family is a lot more fun. Invite extended family for a full day of family bonding, laughter and friendly competition. Laughing and playing together is one way to strengthen families, relieving tensions and increasing family bonds, according to Dr. D. Wayne Matthews in a publication for Advocates for Youth. The Olympics theme offers a wide range of game ideas to work with, so get the family off the couch and let the games begin!
Traditional Olympic Competitions
Plan traditional competitions that were played in the ancient Olympics. Set up foot races between family members that are close in age. Use tape or sticks to mark off areas for the long jump. For the javelin throw, give participants foam pool noodles and see who can throw one the farthest. For the discus throw, fill a strong paper plate with dried beans and staple another plate on top, giving the paper discus some weight. (A Frisbee thrown for distance would likely make it halfway to Mount Olympus.) Show the participants the proper stances and throwing positions, particularly for young kids who haven't seen it done before. You can also plan modern Olympic team sports, dividing the family into two teams for games like soccer and basketball. You could also play kid-friendly team games such as flag football, kickball and softball.
Wild and Wacky Games
Go all out with silly competitions that will have the whole family laughing and engaging in friendly competition. For example, you could have one race where participants must carry three water balloons, one at a time between their chin and chest, from one end of the yard to the other side. If a water balloon drops and breaks, the person must run back and get another one. You could also have a hula hoop race, where participants must keep their hula hoop moving around their hips as they race. If you have a pool, have a cannonball contest, with judges giving points for the most splash. Other competitions can include a jump rope race and cartwheel racing.
Olympic Obstacle Course
Set up an Olympic-style obstacle course for participants to race through. One idea is to start the course with a "torch run," by having participants balance a large plastic ball on a small paper cone, running a short distance without the ball falling off. At the next station, have participants put on an over-sized suit jacket, pants and a cowboy hat to represent the U.S. in the "parade of nations." Each person must then walk fast to the next station while waving a small flag. At another station, lay out hula hoops on the ground in the shape of the Olympic rings. Each person must hop through the rings. Set up short hurdles by balancing sticks or pool noodles on the lower rungs of wooden chairs. Lay a long strip of tarp down, keeping it wet with a hose for a slippery slide to the finish line.
Include a few fun competitions that don't require too much physical effort. You could have an "Olympic ring" eating contest, hanging frosted donuts from strings on a low tree branch. Participants must race to eat one doughnut ring without using their hands. Put the participants in pairs and give them toilet paper to come up with a cool outfit for the Parade of Nations. A panel of older family members can be the judges. You could also plan an Olympic-themed scavenger hunt. Make several sets of Olympic rings out of construction paper and hide each ring separately throughout the backyard or around the house. Put family members in pairs. The first team to find all five colors of the Olympic rings wins first place.
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