How to Produce a Backyard Olympics With Your Kids
Want to get your family outdoors for some fun?
In this article, I’ll show you how to produce Olympic Games (kids version) right in your own backyard.
Your kids and their friends will remember it for years to come.
Why Hold Your Own Backyard Olympics?
Watching the Olympic Games on television is a great way to introduce your children to a wide variety of sporting events. But watching isn’t everything. Many of today’s children and teens spend too many hours in front of computer screens and TV sets.
A Backyard Olympics gives your kids an opportunity to get some exercise, engage in healthy competition and have a lot of fun at the same time.
As a side benefit, you can make this a learning experience too.
- Your kids can research the flags, customs and cultures of different countries they plan to represent.
- They can test their Olympic knowledge by taking an online quiz at Kidzworld.
- They can flex their creative muscles, design flag bibs to wear and choose which races and games should be included in the competition.
Staging a Backyard Olympics requires a moderate amount of preparation, but you can take these easy steps to get started. The smiles and memories you’ll receive make it well worth the effort.
#1: Decide on Participants and Location
First, you need to decide how many people will participate and where to hold the competition. Let the size of your backyard be a guide. If you have a small area, you might want to limit the number of competitors to six. With ten or more children competing, it might be better to hold the event in a neighborhood park.
Make sure you have enough adults on hand to help with the event.
#2: Choose the Countries
Next, you’ll need to decide on the countries your children will represent. Each child can represent an individual country or you can create teams.
Visit Flagpedia.net to find each country’s flag. Your children can make a copy of the flag with crayons or markers on a 4×6 inch (10×15 cm) piece of paper or you can print out a copy of the flag.
Punch holes in the four corners of the paper to make a flag bib and feed string through each side so it can be tied on over a child’s shirt.
Download music from NationalAnthems.info so you can play the national anthem of each child’s country during the awards ceremony. This will give your Olympics an authentic feel.
Have awards ready in advance so you can hand them out at your closing ceremony. You can buy medals or ribbons from a local party-supply store or online from Oriental Trading. Another option is to make your own ribbons out of construction paper.
#3: Choose Your Competitions
Now you’ll decide on the number and type of games to be played. Brainstorm with your children on the types of challenges for your Olympic Games.
Here are a few suggestions:
Water Balloon Toss
Watch this video to learn how to do a water balloon toss.
Also check here for water balloon toss ideas.
Jump Rope Contest
Watch this video for some ideas.
Also check here for jump rope contest ideas.
Hula Hoop Contest
Watch this video to see how a hula hoop contest can be run.
Also check here for hula hoop contest ideas.
Watch this video to learn how to run a three legged race.
Also check here for 3-legged race contest ideas.
Here are a few more ideas:
Once the games are chosen, you’ll need to gather the supplies you need for each contest, such as a jump rope, stop watch, hula hoop and balloons.
Keep in mind that the more competitions you include, the more time it will take. For example, if you have six children performing six challenges, plan on the event taking about two to three hours.
#4: Judging the Event
You also need to get volunteers to help with your Backyard Olympics. You’ll need people to judge the events, tally awards and be in charge of the music playback at the medal ceremony.
You’re all set with your preparations. Now…
#5: Let the Games Begin
Light the Olympic Flame
You might want to kick off your Olympic Games with an official ceremony for lighting the Olympic torch.
Mature children can carry a lit candle or a long BBQ lighter to pass the torch and light the flame. Keep a Tiki torch or a candle burning throughout the competition ONLY if you have someone to keep an eye on it.
For younger children, make a flameless torch out of art supplies you have on hand.
The torch-bearer can even dress as an ancient Greek Olympian, if he or she enjoys wearing costumes.
Set Expectations and Explain the Rules
As part of your opening ceremony, ask the participants to take an oath of good sportsmanship. This is a good way to remind everyone to play fairly during the competition.
You can use the Olympic Oath as a model or come up with your own. Here’s the one we used:
“I promise to play fair. I promise to be a good sportsman. I’ll try hard and I’ll have fun. So help me God.”
Play the Games
Before each contest begins, explain the rules to make sure everyone understands how to play.
If you have a large group (and enough volunteers), you may want to split them into teams that rotate around to the different games. This will make your Backyard Olympics finish faster, with less time that the kids have to wait in line to play. You can use the country bibs to designate teams.
#6: Reward the Winners. Celebrate All
Once all the events are completed and the winners determined, it’s time to hold an awards ceremony.
Have each child come forward to receive his or her medal or ribbon and play the appropriate national anthem for the country represented.
You might want to hand out “participant” ribbons too, so every child will have a chance to walk away with an award.
Your Backyard Olympics are over. Put out your Olympic flame (if you left it lit), congratulate all the players for doing their best, thank the judges and volunteers and celebrate!
Some Final Thoughts…
With a little creativity and effort, your family and friends can have fun taking part in a Backyard Olympics. The kids may get the medals, but the real prize is to watch the enjoyment they get from competing and cheering on their friends.
What do you think? Have you hosted a backyard Olympics for your family? Please share your comments and pictures from your event below. I’d love to hear from you!
Images from iStockPhoto.
Gloria Rand is a speaker, copywriter and consultant who helps companies connect with their prospects and generate more sales through search engine optimization and social media marketing strategies. Other posts by Gloria Rand »