I love the Olympics! And every two years I celebrate with my family. We eat international foods. We run a torch around the living room. For a few months every two years we subscribe to cable and sit on the couch watching hours of footage of other people being physically active. Today I’ll give you a few tips for having a great time enjoying the Olympics with kids from the comfort of your own home.
My love for this event must have started when my hometown got the Olympics in 1988 and the entire City of Calgary went Olympics crazy. Every school assignment. Every community activity. All centered on the Olympics for the year leading up to the event. Then in my early 20s I was living and working in Utah during the Salt Lake City Olympics. I walked two blocks from my apartment to watch the torch relay pass by. I cried.
You may not be able to travel to South Korea this February, but you can still make those two weeks an epic experience.
Here are a few ideas for enjoying the Olympics with kids:
1. Learn About the Host Nation
How much do you know about South Korea? For every one thing you don’t know, the library and the internet know a thousand things. Check out some books and read about Korean history and culture. It will make all those b-roll shots on the NBC coverage more meaningful and turn a fun event into a learning experience.
2. Eat Like the Host Nation
You may not know how to make kimchi or bulkogi but that doesn’t mean you can’t eat it. Whip up some rice and pick up some Korean-style beef bulkogi at Trader Joe’s for an easy meal. Or stop by your local Korean restaurant or mall food court and bring home a feast. Talk to your kids about what you’re eating and what other foods are common in South Korea.
The Christmas decorations are down and your walls may be looking a little bare. Why not fill them with some homemade art to commemorate the Olympics? We love this free printable for international flag bunting. Get creative and make it feel like a special occasion worth celebrating.
4. Gear Up
You don’t have to spend a billion dollars to dress up for the Olympics. I was at the mall yesterday and saw Olympic t-shirts and jackets for way more money than I was willing to pay. We made these for just a couple of dollars per shirt by picking up the white t-shirts and puff paint at the craft store. The kids were proud to make their own. You could also go with a Team USA theme or Team Whatever Country You Live In.
5. Host a Torch Relay
For the last Winter Olympics, we had friends over for mini Olympic games and a torch relay. It was (Seattle shocker!) cold and rainy so each of the kids just took a lap around the main floor of our house with the torch. We played Olympic theme music and cheered them all on. This torch was created by wrapping triangles of flame-colored tissue paper around a flashlight and then wrapping the handle in tinfoil. 2 minutes. Boom.
6. Have an Opening Ceremonies Scavenger Hunt
The opening ceremonies of the Olympics can be long and we usually do other activities while we watch. This year I’ve made a scavenger hunt printable to hold our interest longer. It’s a list of things the kids might see while they watch. Prizes will be won. Fun will be had.
7. Learn About the Athletes
The Team USA website has great bios about the athletes competing this year. Read amazing stories about the challenges these athletes have overcome. Everyone will be inspired and it will be so much more fun to watch them compete when you know more about their lives.
8. Try Out Some Events
Do you live somewhere snowy? Try out some of the events. My daughter tried “skeleton” on a sled down our snowy cul-de-sac hill. Stack everybody onto a toboggan for bobsled or go skiing if there’s a hill nearby. If you live somewhere warm you can always improvise your own faux-winter sports or go to a local ice skating rink. They keep it cold so the weather doesn’t have to.
9. Pick Favorites and Do a Medal Count
Choose a few of your favorite countries and post daily medal counts. We’ve done posters in the past but this year we’ve opted for a white board so we can just write the numbers and erase them, rather than counting up tally marks. This photo is for blog purposes only. I’m curious to see if any of our predictions are close.
There is something magical and reaffirming about the Olympics. We get a chance to watch people from all over the world come together and get over themselves a bit. People are kinder. Barriers break down. It’s a great time to focus on what we have in common, rather than our differences. How do you plan to enjoy the Olympics with kids (or grown-ups) this February?