Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Olympic Efforts!!

Even though it's not an Olympic year in 2011, you can still do some training and competition! It is so important for children to have lots of exercise and physical movement - get out there and make it happen! It's easy to put together a simple program of activities using items you may already have around the house or classroom. If you do a few games or exercises each day, you can stretch it out over a few days or a week - culminating in a Closing Ceremony of your choice!

First, generate interest in a Kids Olympics by asking your children what they already know about winter sports ... skiing, skating, hockey, snowboarding, etc. Build the conversation by sharing your own experiences with athletics or your memories of Olympic athletes (or other sports figures!). There are lots of clips available on Google, YouTube, etc. to help explain the concept of the Games to children - just be careful to preview all clips before sharing - titles do not always reflect content. Talk to your children about competing and taking pride in their accomplishments - stress the value of trying and training, and the concepts of winning and participating.

A trip to the great outdoors when there is snow on the ground or to the ice rink is a great option for those who are able. Any time you can fit in a little large motor activity, go for it! If you are looking to do a competition indoors or in a more controlled way, you can come up with your own games. Try putting together "Our Own Olympics" with fun and games for all!

Here are some game suggestions that you can do at home or school with little preparation:
(A punch card or sticker card is an easy way to keep it organized!)

Sock Skating: shoes off on a smooth surface and you can practice some twirls, figure eights or, in a big enough space, some speed skating! Great for the large motor stretching!

Balance Board: using a piece of 2x4 or some long wooden blocks, practice walking on the thin raised(just the depth of the blocks) platform to work on balance!

Olympic Ring Toss: use bean bags and some hula hoops or a piece of rope made into a circle to do some tossing for depth perception and eye-hand coordination.

Precision Racing: Plastic egg on a big spoon - find a friend and race up and down the room or outside - great exercise for coordination, balance and it's fun!

Tumbling - on a soft surface with supervision, rolling races (roll like a rolling pin!) are action-packed. (Or down a snow-covered hill!)

Keep going ...  inventing games is half the fun! Perhaps your athletes have some ideas, too!

For a related art project, trace children's hands on flame-colored tissue paper - red, orange, yellow - one set of each if you can! Wrap a paper roll with black paper or have them paint them black and then attach the hands to the top - now you have an Olympic torch!

Make some hand-made medals together, going over the five colors of the rings - every country participating, at the time the logo was developed, had at least one of these colors in its flag! The five rings represent the five continents (North and South America were considered together at the time, Europe, Africa, Asia and "Oceania") of the world - and the fact that they are all joined together for "unity" - kids understand that concept!

I like to finish off with individual photos of my Olympic athletes, standing in front of the flag, wearing their hard-earned medals - and huge smiles! They make a great keepsake - and, who knows, maybe it will be part of their own Olympic profile someday! :) 

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