Enjoy the Olympic Games with your children

Children can take part in the Olympic Games, as exemplified in a speech to athletes participating in the 1908 London Olympic Games:

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle,” said Ethelbert Talbot, the Bishop of Central Pennsylvania. “The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.”

The first step your children can take is to learn more about the Olympics though the Internet. Along with parents, they can find information about not only the Summer Olympics but about London, the history of athletics, and background information about new Olympic champions.

Time For Kids provides excellent information about the games, past and present athletes, and the host city London.

An official website for the Olympics introduces your family to Wenlock and Mandeville, the London 2012 mascots. Families can also play games and make their own mascots.

Activity village has crafts, printables, worksheets, coloring pages, and puzzles.

A second step to being part of the games is to host a reading Olympics.

“In this activity, family members go for the gold (or whatever other color they choose) by entering books they have read in a fun series of Olympic reading events,” said Ruth Graves, author of “The RIF (Reading is Fundamental) Guide To Encouraging Young Readers.” “As a family, brainstorm a list of book games and competitions. Keep contests of skill to a minimum, and make them fun. For most events, the books themselves should be the contenders.”

As Graves explained, the list of events could include the following:

  • Most number of pages read in seven minutes
  • Longest list of characters in a single story
  • Fastest oral reading that the family can still understand
  • Longest word on a page
  • Book with the most pictures

Parents can help children design medals out of poster board and paint them gold, silver and bronze.

A third and final step is to organize a back-to-school Olympics.

“With your children’s help you can sponsor an in-house Olympics anytime your family is in the mood for some engaging play,” said Steve Bennett, author of “Back to School Olympics.” “‘Events’ consist of any or all of the activities your kids will regularly do each day to get ready for school – laying out clothes for the next day, packing notebooks and other supplies in a knapsack. When you call ‘Go,’ your kids begin the designated activity. Players try to achieve their personal ‘bests’ as the games proceed. After each event, congratulate everyone for their achievements; for example, the quickest time, the neatest job, and the most creative plan for getting the task done. If you don’t have medals on hand, a certificate worth a special dessert might be in order.”

A possible dessert, in honor of the London games, is English trifle. You can find many recipes online for this layered pudding and fruit dessert that your children can help create.

Celebrate the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games with your family

Meet Wenlock and Mandeville, the mascots for the London 2012 Olympic Summer Games

Reed Markham was a member of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games News Service and an Olympic torchbearer.

Contact him at [email protected]