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Olympics for Kids

Use the Olympic Games to inspire play and learning.

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Updated June 09, 2014

I believe the Olympic Games are an exception to rules calling for limited screen time. Every two years, families have a good excuse to watch for hours. That's because the Games are a great learning experience. Below, you'll find lots of ways the Games can prompt learning and active play. Make the most of both the Winter and Summer Olympics for kids with these suggestions from About.com Parenting guides.

Create crafts and homemade games.

Olympic ring prints by Sherri Osborn, familycrafts.about.com
Sherri Osborn
Stock up on some simple supplies and you can have the whole family crafting while you watch, then staging your own Games too. Make your own medals, pins, a flag, even a (safe!) torch.

Adopt a country.

Have each member of the family choose a country (besides the one you live in) to cheer for. Create a running medals tally and have everyone research and share a few fun facts about their country, its team, or its athletes.

Get up and play.

Whether it's during commercial breaks, or in the days and weeks following the Games, let the Games and its athletes inspire active play for your whole family. There are lots of ways to try out new sports (summer and winter) and imitate new heroes.

Read all about it.

These nonfiction books will help you and your children explore the history, technology, and personalities associated with the Olympic Games, both ancient and modern.

Play along with Olympic toys.

Kid-sized and kid-friendly gear lets children and teens try out as-seen-on-TV sports, or recreate Olympics scenarios with Playmobil figures. The Legos, blocks, and other figures you already have work well for this too!

Help preschoolers follow the action.

Amanda Rock has advice for both summer and winter Olympics-inspired teachable moments for little ones, with activities that will grab their interest and help them learn about sportsmanship, friendship, and peace.

Learn about Paralympic sports.

After the Olympic Games, thousands more athletes arrive in the host city for the Paralympic games. They compete in dozens of different sports, summer and winter.

Keep the conversation going.

What other TV show offers you the chance to discuss sportsmanship, geography, sexism, safety, healthy eating, and more? Television coverage during the Games can be the jumping-off point for fascinating family conversations about issues big (are 300-pound weight-lifters healthy?) and small (how long is .01 second, anyway?).

Take up a new sport.

The Olympics can easily lead kids to want to try a new sport themselves. Amanda Morin has advice on whether each summer Olympic sport might be a good match for your child.

Get fitness advice from an Olympian.

Second-generation Olympic gymnast Nastia Liukin has suggestions on how to share her own sport and other fitness activities with young children.

Cheer for a set of twins.

If you have twins in your family, or among your child's close friends, he might be inspired to root for one of the twins or sets of twins competing (sometimes together, sometimes separately) in the Sochi Winter Games.
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