Who loves the Olympics?! I sure do! During the Olympics, the world just seems to be a happier, more inspired place. There are so many incredible stories of strength, perseverance, and courage. I just had to celebrate these moments with my preschoolers. We decided to spend an entire week learning about the summer Olympics during our movement classes at Dancing Moose Montessori, and the kids loved it! We started the week with our very own opening ceremonies, where we talked briefly about the history, traditions, and symbols around the Olympics. We talked about the Olympics rings and what they represent, linking our arms together in our circle as we discussed the different continents coming together as friends. And then we ran the torch. I brought a battery-powered, light up baton, turned off the lights and had the kids take turns running the “torch” around the circle and passing it off to the next athlete.
They loved this! I was a little worried that making them stay seated at the circle for this long would blow up, but I was surprised at how focused they were on cheering each other on. After the last runner, I made a big deal about how we were able to accomplish our goal of getting the torch safely from Greece to Brazil as a team. Then we celebrated with a dance party! I threw out balloons and played fun, inspiring music, such as; Unstoppable by Sia, Rise and Firework by Katy Perry, and We Are the Champions by Queen.
This really kicked off the week and got the kids excited about the days ahead. I really exaggerated the importance of eating healthy, getting plenty of rest, and being ready to do their best. It was hilariously adorable to see how serious the kids took these assignments.
Over the next few days, we participated in as many Summer Olympic activities as possible. One day we focused on Track & Field – long jump, high jump, “discus” throw, and 8 meter dash. I created little cards for each of the kids and we broke up into groups, working on one station at a time, filling in their personal records as they went. This worked really well with my older classes, as they were able to fill out their own cards…it was a little more challenging with the younger ones, especially since I only have each class for 20 minutes. If you have more time to spend, or helpers, this will be more successful!
The next day we did a couple of gymnastics events – tumbling and balance beam. I taught the kids how to smile and lift their arms before starting, and how to point and lift their toes as they walked on the beam. I encouraged them to be creative with their movements while being careful with their bodies and their friend’s bodies.
We also tested our tossing skills with a couple of different “Olympic ring toss” games. For the first version, we arranged five hula hoops to look like the Olympic rings (as you can see, our hula hoops have seen better days!). Then we tried throwing a bean bag into each hoop. The second version was a little trickier. We lined up water bottles and tried our hand at tossing paper plates, cut into rings, over the bottles. This would probably have been a little easier with some type of heavier ring. But the kids seemed to enjoy it nonetheless – and when they got tired of it, they used the rings at hats and continued the fun in their own way!
Last, but not least, we celebrated some of the team/ball sports. We had three stations for the kids to rotate through on this day. One station was a mini basketball hoop where we practiced our shooting skills. At the next station, we worked on our dribbling and passing with real basketballs. And finally, we developed our footwork and scored some soccer goals. We are fortunate at Dancing Moose to have a variety of sports equipment and supplies to facilitate this fun week of activities. If you don’t have all of the items we used – get creative! Shoot crumpled newspapers into a laundry basket, draw Olympic rings on the sidewalk with chalk and toss rocks into the circles – if you are drawing a blank, as the kids for their ideas. I’m always amazed at their creativity – there’s no limit to what they will come up with! All that matters is that they are learning, moving their bodies, and having fun.
We ended our olympic week with our very own closing ceremonies; complete with homemade paper and ribbon medals (everyone received gold, of course) and our countries National Anthem playing in the background. After the children received their medals we talked about the qualities of Olympic athletes and practiced being a good sport by congratulating the other athletes. This was probably my favorite part of the whole week. The kids had worked hard all week and it had paid off. They were so proud of their medals and really seemed to feel more connected to their classmates or “teams”.
I hope this inspires you to create your own Olympic-sized fun with your kiddos – whether it’s during the Olympics or not! I can’t wait to do something similar for the winter games!