Olympics 2012: Six ways to celebrate the summer Games at home(Read article summary)
Olympics 2012: The Olympics provide parents a chance to teach their kids about different countries, sportsmanship, and motivation. Get in the spirit of the summer Games with six alternative ways to celebrate at home.
Mark Bugnaski/Kalamazoo Gazette/AP
If youâ€™re like my family and many around the world, youâ€™ll be glued to the TV at all hours, watching the 2012 Olympic GamesÂ from London, which start tomorrow and run for 17 sports-filled days. TheÂ Olympic GamesÂ have been fascinating us since 776 B.C. in ancient Greece, where they were a one-day event featuring running, long jump, shot put, javelin, boxing, equestrian sports, and a martial art called pankration. FiveÂ city-statesÂ (think Athens and Sparta) competed for the prize, aÂ crown made of olive leaves.
In addition to watching them, here are six other ways to celebrate and enjoy the Olympics.Â
Learn something about another country
WithÂ 204 countries competing in the 2012 Olympics, from Mauritius to Kiribati, there are plenty of countries and cultures to become acquainted with. Try finding some of the more obscure ones on aÂ mapÂ or globe.
Iâ€™ve long been fascinated with the flags of other countries, and I bet many others are, too. Make a funÂ flag handprint wreath, using these wonderfulÂ flag printables fromÂ Activity Village.
There is also no shortage of interesting food you can make from every corner of the globe. This list ofÂ food from around the worldÂ will certainly get you started. Moroccan, Middle Eastern, Indian, and Japanese food always sound good to me and my family, but we can be convinced to branch out even further, especially during the Olympics.
Celebrate London and England
London, which last hosted the Olympics in 1948, is a fun place to honor. Since weâ€™re always up for celebrating with food, thisÂ British food glossaryÂ will supply you with traditional comestibles, from Bangers and Mash to the Ploughmanâ€™s Lunch.
You also canâ€™t go wrong serving tea (or juice) with simpleÂ scones. Even though â€śhigh teaâ€ť seems very fancy today, the first high teas were actually meals of meats and cheeses served with tea to Industrial Revolution-era workers who sat to eat at high tables.
London, of course, is quite rich culturally. I love this funÂ double-decker bus made from a cardboard box, courtesy ofÂ Entertaining Monsters.
England has also provided the world with a lot of wonderful music. If you havenâ€™t introduced your kids toÂ The BeatlesÂ yet, now is the time. Start anywhere in the song catalog and work your way around. Lots of kids loveÂ Abbey Road, Magical Mystery TourÂ andÂ Sgt. Pepperâ€™s Lonely Hearts Club Band.Â Rubber SoulÂ is a canâ€™t-miss classic. The earliest songs are great to dance to and the latest ones are fascinating for older kids. Speaking of dancing,Â British '80s new wave musicÂ is sure to get toes tapping and heads bobbing.
Get inspired to achieve your dreams and be a good sport
Most people canâ€™t help but be inspired by watching Olympic athletes â€” indeed, thatâ€™s a large part of the fascination of the games. Just about every Olympic athlete sacrificed something to get to the top of his or her sport. While all great athletes show tremendous dedication, discipline, and ability, some have overcome more setbacks than others. (See the Monitor's coverage of eight such athletes.)
The Olympics can inspire you to be active and healthy, and also to achieve your dreams. While urging you to do your best in any endeavor, they can also teach good sportsmanship â€” as they invariably demonstrate that achievement often comes with disappointment. Sometimes, no matter what your training and background, itâ€™s not your day to win. The best athletes know how to lose with grace, too. â€śThe most important thing is .. not to win but to take part,â€ť reads part of theÂ Olympic Creed.
Get active with a Backyard Olympics
So you donâ€™t have a balance beam or a javelin handy? You can still create your own version of the Games with aÂ Backyard Olympics.Â UcreateÂ offers lots of ideas for Olympic-inspired games and activities that are fun and easy to pull off. And FiskarsÂ provides moreÂ Backyard OlympicsÂ game ideas, as well as fun decorations and accessories, such asÂ homemade Olympic torches and flag banners. (See more craft ideas for your Backyard Olympics, below.)
Get active in your community
Rather get active in your community? First Lady Michelle Obamaâ€™sÂ Letâ€™s Move organization has declared Saturday, July 28Â Olympic Fun Day. Follow the link to find lots of ideas for fun Olympic-inspired games and meet-ups with others in your area.
Make Olympic crafts
You didnâ€™t think we were done with Olympic-inspired crafts, did you? In addition to the ones mentioned above,Â Sunhats and Wellie BootsÂ offers a tutorial for their version of anÂ Olympic torch craft. And the ribbon wandsÂ will make anyone feel like a rhythmic gymnast or, at the very least, an enthusiastic celebrant.
You can also make these cute and cleverÂ DIY Olympic gold medalsÂ using clay, courtesy of Cindy Hopper fromÂ Alphamom.
And, for those who want to get in touch with their inner ancient Greek, this is a fun laurelÂ crown and togaÂ project fromÂ Creekside Learning.