Don't just sit back and watch the Olympics. Gather your friends and neighbors and host your own summer games!
Olympic Rings Obstacle Course
Set up five hula hoops (red, green, black, yellow, and blue) to represent Olympic rings—these signify the world's five major continents and are interlocked to show friendship among the nations. Invite toddlers to walk and jump into these hoops around your yard. Don't have any hula hoops? Use chalk to draw them on the pavement—or do this in addition to the lawn hoops for more fun!
If you like, use small patio cushions as hurdles for your little ones to hop over and around, and set up sprinklers and lawn water slides for even greater challenge. (Learn other Olympics-inspired movement activities here.)
Badminton is an official sport of the summer Olympic Games, one that toddlers may find fascinating to watch and then replicate on your lawn—it's a super gross-motor activity, and even if their hits aren't successful, badminton is great hand-eye coordination practice, too. Learn the rules and set-up here.
With its mesmerizing copy-cat moves, synchronized swimming tends to be another toddler Olympic favorite. While your child may not be swooshing through the deep end of the town pool yet, that doesn't mean that you and she or he can't don the same swim caps and mimic each other's movements, either in a kiddie pool or using inflatable swimming arms in a deeper pool. Switch off taking the lead, and watch your "performance" dissolve into giggles! (Does your child need swim lessons? Gauge his readiness here.)
Letting your child have a go at the Olympic sports he may hear you talking about or glance at on TV is a great way to pique his interest in athletics. Whether it's running, shooting hoops, lifting milk jugs half-filled with water (i.e., "weightlifting") or trying out the tricycle for the for the first time, kids love to try their hand at the sports they see.
Better than the Gold
Besides being great family fun, you know that exercise releases endorphins in the body that keep your child mentally and emotionally upbeat and alert. A lifetime habit of daily exercise will help your child maintain flexibility, strengthen bones, increase immunity to infection, combat weight problems, and encourage self-esteem.