Share the spirit of the 2012 Olympic Games by testing your athletic skills and sportsmanship with a mini Olympics in a park or your back yard. Invite friends, neighbors and cousins to join in.
Start by selecting several events to include in your summer games. If your kids enjoyed a favorite race or athletic competition in youth programs or camp, encourage them to teach it to the group. Be creative so all abilities can be included in the spirited fun.
Here are some ideas as participants "go for the gold." On your mark. Get set. Go!
Relay races: Before you begin, tell the kids that the Olympic Torch Relay is a variation of relay races. Lit on May 10, 2012, in Olympia, Greece, the Olympic Flame was carried and passed along by torch bearers until it reached London for the official start of the 2012 Olympic Games.
A traditional relay race is done with teams of two or more people. It's a great lesson in teamwork, because all members must work together to finish.
Place two sets of bases at either end of the yard as markers for your race. Give one member of each team a balloon, which has to be patted into the air continually as the runner goes down the yard, around the far base and back to the starting base. On return, the balloon is patted to the next player, who repeats the activity until everyone has had a turn.
Running and swimming: Let judges watch as kids and their friends do a quick dash across the yard or a lap across
Jumping: Place a flat marker in the middle of the yard. Each competitor should get a running start and jump from the marker. Before the athlete moves from the landing spot, a designated judge should measure the distance from the marker to where the athlete landed. Scores can be given based on how far past the marker the person jumped.
Creative events: Give hula hoops a whirl and see how long participants can hula-hoop or how many they can keep going at one time. Or see who can throw a paper airplane or whiffle ball the farthest.
Share the gold: Make paper gold medals for special awards. Giving children praise for hard work, good behavior and sportsmanship helps them view themselves in a positive way.
Donna Erickson's award-winning series "Donna's Day" is airing on public television nationwide. To find more of her creative family recipes and activities, visit donnasday.com and link to the NEW Donna's Day Facebook fan page. Her latest book is "Donna Erickson's Fabulous Funstuff for Families."