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Winter Silly Olympics

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 Winter 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. Plus, adding movement to play is a super way to stay warm in colder weather. Here’s how:

The Guide

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 Winter Olympics? What if all the events were silly? What kind of silly challenges could we do together?” Wonder how you might be able to recreate some of the winter sports featured in the Olympics, too. Write down your child’s ideas and suggest some of your own as well. Need ideas? Here are some of our favorite winter Olympics-inspired challenges to engage kids’ bodies and sense of humor:

  • Curling: Use a broom to sweep a leaf, acorn, pine cone or other object towards a target.
  • Speed skating: Place paper towels or cloth under each foot and “skate” towards a finish line.
  • Ice luge: Stack books under one side of a cookie to make an incline. Then, race ice cubes or frozen treasures down the slide to see which one gets to the bottom fastest. As the ice begins to melt, how does that effect the speed?
  • Snowball Launch: Roll snow into balls, pick a target (e.g. a tree, spot in the yard) and launch! Don’t have snow? Mud balls will do the trick, too!
  • Husky haul: Turn a sled or cookie sheet, reusable shopping bag and some rope into a dog sled. See ow fast you can pull the sled from one point to another. If you have snow, shovel some on your sled. Or, load it up with some heavy objects (e.g. pieces of wood, rocks, books). How fast can you pull when you load some heavy objects on the sled? Read more about this activity here.
  • Toppling towers: Build the tallest tower you can using nature treasures and/or recyclable materials.
  • Ice melt: Make an ice cube melt as fast as you can.
  • Free from the freeze: Freeze some nature objects (e.g. small rocks, pine cones, acorns, leaves, flowers) inside ice. Offer kids a few tools (e.g. salt, warm water, stick or a mallet) and challenge them to free the objects from the ice as fast as they can. Read more about this activity here.
  • Winter gear challenge: Lay out all of your winter outdoor gear (e.g. boots, coat, hats, gloves, scarf). Set a timer and see how quickly you can put on all of the layers. Then see how quickly you can take them all off! Try it again to beat your last time.
  • Animal race:  Each teammate chooses and animal (e.g. elephant, frog, worm) to move like as they race to the finish line.

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.
This activity is featured in our January calendar. Click to get your free copy and sign up to get a fresh, new calendar each month!

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.

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