How can you bring to life the Winter Olympic Games for kids? With the help of some online resources and a little imagination, no matter where you live, the Olympic spirit can come to your kids.
The Chill of Victory
The Olympic spirit is based on competition. The Olympics are not about winning, per se, but on trying, which is a very valuable lesson for any child to learn. The creed says "...the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle," and with that kind of emphasis, every child can feel good about taking part in their own version of the Winter Olympics.
ABCTeach is a resource primarily for teachers, but anyone can download the printable sheets for both coloring and reading activities. Activity Village also has a very comprehensive set of links regarding the games, including the trailer to one of the best Winter Olympics movies ever, Cool Runnings.
CyberHunting the Olympics
A "cyberhunt" is like a scavenger hunt that takes place online. Kids are given puzzles and clues and try to fit together the pieces they find online to solve the problems. Author and playwright Gail Skroback Hennessy created a very thorough cyberhunt based on the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. It was actually selected by the Olympic committee to highlight on the official website.
While the page itself is only one series of questions, the links it leads to open doors to entirely different subjects. Focusing on the Olympic mascots, for example, or Canadian geography, or simply making a game out of Winter Olympic trivia can help bring an already-exciting event more into focus for kids.
The Official Winter Olympics Site
There are a lot of sites that are themed around the Vancouver 2010 event, but the best is the official site entitled Vancouver 2010. The site has several elements:
- The main page has records of all of the medal winners, sports, and even videos of certain events.
- The Mascot Page is designed particularly for kids.
- There is a video about the background of the Vancouver Olympic site, as told through the cartoon antics of the Mascots.
- Each mascot also has their own page, along with a link to a quiz to let kids figure out what they have in common with each character.
- Finally, there are flash-based video games that can keep both kids and adults entertained as they play hockey, fly through the air, or wrangle recyclables along with the mascots. Every game is related to either an Olympic sport or the site of the Vancouver Olympics.
Winter Olympic Games for Kids Offline
While the activities and printables are certainly an easy way to get kids involved mentally with the games, some more kinesthetic learners may want to get their hands and feet involved as well. If you are located in a place where winter activities are available, this may be as easy as taking the kids outside and timing sled races or ice-skating relays. Snowman-building competitions or snow-angel teams are good options for younger kids.
What if you don't have outside areas available, whether wintery or not? PBS Zoom has a website dedicated to getting kids away from the computer and into Winter Olympic-themed activities. With miniaturized versions of bobsledding, slalom, and even figure skating, the site is a great place to start for combining activities with the spirit of Vancouver in 2010 or Sochi, Russia in 2014. You could also use some of the new full-body-motion video games like Wii and Xbox Kinect to bring the images of winter sports into actual motion.
With so much material about the Olympics available, the best way to bring the sporting event to life is to let kids find their own favorite aspect of the games and focus on it for as long as they like. As long as the core principles of fair competition and trying your best are emphasized, the spirit of the Olympics will be alive no matter what the activity.