How to Produce a Backyard Olympics With Your Kids

Do your kids like a little friendly competition?

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.

Backyard Olympics: discover how to plan Olympic Games (kids version) in your backyard that your children and friends will remember for years.

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.

kids Racing

A Backyard Olympics is a fun way to spend time outdoors. Image source: iStockPhoto.

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.

You Will Need

  • Flag bibs (hand-made or printed pictures of country flags, hole punch, string)
  • Smartphone, tablet or laptop to play national anthems
  • Torch (candle, gas firestarter, or hand-made replica)
  • Ribbons and/or medals
  • Paper and pen to keep track of scores
  • Stopwatch or phone with stopwatch function
  • Supplies to run each game
  • Sunscreen and water for everyone

Preparation Time

Allow a few hours to plan and gather materials in advance of your Olympics day.

Activity Time

Varies depending upon the number of games and competitors.

Location

Your backyard or a local park, depending on space and number of competitors.

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.

international flags

Have the kids learn about and represent different countries. Image source: iStockPhoto.

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.

girls in flag bibs

Taking the oath of good sportsmanship while representing their countries.

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.

3-Legged Race


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.

boy playing hula hoop

He was a strong competitor in the Hula Hoop contest.

Make sure someone is on hand to take plenty of pictures and video too! You’ll probably want to post pictures on Facebook or Instagram.

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.

boy in toga passing candle flame to girl

Lighting the Olympic torch adds an authentic touch.

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.”

Olympic Trivia

  • The first Olympic Games were held in honor of the Greek god Zeus.
  • A running race was the only event held in the first Olympic Games in 776 BC.
  • The Olympic flag featuring 5 rings in different colors symbolizes the union of the 5 continents: America, Africa, Australia, Europe and Asia.
  • Beach volleyball made its Olympic debut at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Play the Games

Before each contest begins, explain the rules to make sure everyone understands how to play.

girl jumping rope

Competing in the jump rope contest.

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.

Have fun!

#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.

smiling girl with medal

Our gold medal winner was thrilled. More than a decade later, she has great memories of our Backyard Olympics.

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.

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About the Author, Gloria Rand

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 »


  • http://www.mykidsadventures.com/ Jennifer Ballard

    This is great, Gloria! We’ve done something like this for Cub Scouts and the boys LOVED it. My favorite game was the pool noodle javelin throw. The kids’ favorite was the “decathalon” of running, sit ups, push ups, etc. that was led by one of the dads who was a real military drill sergeant. Random kids playing at the park were joining in because it was so much fun. Your ideas for the torch ceremony and national anthems will be great additions next time we hold our olympics. Thanks!

  • Maria Teman Ward

    great creative ideas. thanks so much!

  • http://www.faughnfamily.com/ Adam Faughn

    Wow! What a wonderful project idea. We homeschool our children, and what a wonderful way to reinforce some geography lessons throughout the years. Great idea!

  • http://kommein.com Deb Ng

    Don’t forget the bicycle rodeo where kids ride their bikes around cones and obstacles!

  • Gloria Rand

    Your additions sound like fun! I’m glad I could give you some more ideas!

  • Gloria Rand

    Ooh! That’s a good one too, Deb!

  • Gloria Rand

    You’re welcome.

  • Gloria Rand

    Isn’t it great when we can sneak in a little education while they have fun? :-)

  • EmilyQuestions

    @MrBoy is SO in for the water ballon toss competition – especially on a hot summer day! What a well-thought out plan for holding your own Backyard Olympics, thanks, Gloria!

  • Gloria Rand

    You are so right. Water balloons are perfect in the summer! I hope you enjoy holding your own Olympics, Emily.

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