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There is perhaps no greater demonstration of persistence in action than an Olympic athlete. Making one’s life’s mission to continually challenge oneself to be the best you can be and the best in the world is serious work. Play doesn’t have to be quite as serious though, so why not take inspiration from the Summer Olympics by hosting a Silly Olympics in and around your home! Being able to stay silly as you approach challenges is a great way to keep kids active, connect as a family and enjoy a few belly laughs together. Here’s how:
Learn about the Olympics: Find out more about the history of the Olympics, including what the original events were, in Ancient Greece 2,700 years ago! Take a look at amazing moments throughout Olympics history, including sticking with it through injuries to take the gold, winning when the odds were stacked against you, and setting records that stood for almost 50 years.
Invite: Say, “Do you think we could host our own family Olympics? What if all the events were silly? What kind of silly challenges could we do together?” Write down your child’s ideas and suggest some of your own as well. Need ideas? Here are some of our favorite challenges to engage kids’ bodies and sense of humor:
- Build the tallest tower you can using nature treasures and/or recyclable materials.
- Without any warning, dump a bowl of water on your head.
- One person fills their mouth with water and tries to keep it filled while another person tries to make them laugh.
- Put a potato between your legs and run from a starting point to an end point without dropping it. Now try to do it faster.
- Make an ice cube melt as fast as you can.
- Balance different things on your head (leaf, pinecone, stuffed animal, apple) and try to walk across the yard without letting them fall off.
- Spin in circles until you fall down. Then, try again and see how long you can spin.
- Animal race (move like animals to the finish line- elephants, frogs, worm)
- Fill a container with some water and see who can make the biggest splash?
- Turn a bowl into a hat. Then, it’s a drum. Next, it’s a spinning top...keep going!
Opening ceremonies: The Opening Ceremony is an important part of every Olympic Games. You can hum or play the official Olympic music or any song that sounds inspiring to your team. Make a few props to add to the pomp, too!
Make Flags! Use fabric or paper to create a flag or two. Welcome kids to use art supplies to decorate with colors and designs they like. For older kids, you can also encourage them to study the flags of different nations and create a flag for the nation that interests them. Attach the flag to a stick with tape or, for a longer lasting flag, cut holes and weave the stick through, then wave with pride! (See our DIY flag activity for more.)
Make a Torch! You can also turn a cardboard tube and some red construction paper or tissue paper into a marvelous torch with which to lead your parade. Want a healthy and delicious torch that gives your silly olympians fuel? Fill an ice cream cone with some granola, then either yogurt or a little nut or seed butter towards the top. Then, stick a few snacks like apple slices, long pieces of banana, pretzel sticks or strips of dried mango to add the flames. After a short parade, kids can dig in!
Main Event: When it’s time for the games to commence, pick one of the silly challenges from your list. Invite kids to use logs, chairs, rope or string, nature treasures or other objects to set up physical challenges for your silly events. After each silly challenge, wonder how you might add or change the challenge to make it even trickier (or more silly).
Closing ceremonies: At the end of the event make a moment to celebrate everyone’s persistence, creativity and humor. Kids can make flower crowns or medals out of cardboard, paper, and other art center materials. Have a presentation of honors with snacks and Olympic music and award family members for the challenges that each person was most proud of or excited about.
Why is this activity great for kids?
Fun, physical challenges are marvelous ways to give kids practice with persistence and grit. Adding silliness to your family routines is a super way to spark joy, an emotion that impacts our bodies and our minds in lasting ways. And, a good sense of humor gives kids the tools they need to see things from many perspectives, a cornerstone of empathic thinking. Humor also helps kids think flexibly and grasp unconventional ways of approaching a situation—both of which allow for divergent thinking, an essential component of creativity.