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Wednesday, 23 April 2003

Backyard Olympics

Written by  Elizabeth Wells

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If you're looking for fun that receives perfect 10s from the judges, hold your own backyard Olympics. The scale will be smaller than the Summer 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, scheduled for September 15 through October 1, but the excitement will be epic.

This family activity is based on the original festival atmosphere. When Olympians are asked to take an oath before competing, the emphasis is on sportsmanship and doing one's personal best. In Backyard Olympics, this is also true, but fun takes the front seat! The most important thing is not to win, but to take part.


Each game has a different individual or team format. When teams are needed, consider having the participants create their own team banners.

Waterballoon Walleyball

Two-player teams match up in this game of coordination and teamwork. Each team is given a bath-size towel, and each player holds two corners of the towel, so the towel is taut and held horizontally. A water balloon is given to the team that wins the coin toss. The balloon is tossed between the two teams in an effort to keep it off the ground or from breaking. The team that catches the balloon gains a point--you might need a referee to determine if the balloon was thrown fairly.

Fantastic Floor "Feets"

This individual competition pits balance with speed. Trace a large foot (such as Dad's or Mom's) and make 20 paper cutouts. Anchor the cutouts to the ground in various directions, making a course. Use heavy-duty tape or stones. The object is for the Olympian to accurately run the course as quickly as possible. A stopwatch or watch with a second hand is helpful for officiating. The competitor who finishes in the best time with the fewest missteps wins. The LaClair family said the kids really liked this game. They especially enjoyed watching Mom "stay on course."

Other games and competitions can include:

1. Egg-citing Relay Race-- using eggs and spoons

2. Flying Frisbee-- similar to shot put

3. Long JumpSix- Pin Bowling-- using 2-liter plastic bottles (An upstate New York family found that the bowling was lots of fun, but the wind was a problem with their empty bottles. Try filling the 2-liter bottles one-quarter full of water or sand to prevent the wind from blowing the bottles around.)


The kids may want to add their own games as you plan your events. The LaClairs added a relay race using a stuffed animal to pass between teammates. Let them be creative. Who knows, it may be the newest event for the 2004 Olympics!

Keep in mind that large age spans can unbalance a fair competition. The LaClairs agreed to give the four-year-old a one-second head start during the relay race to keep things on an even field.

You can hold your own awards ceremony by giving the winning players paper medals on ribbons. Before the event, let the kids design awards on their computers. Nine-year-old Rachel used colored computer paper and twisted yarn to make her family's medals.

For more Olympics fun check out this website:

For more information on the original Olympics and its revitalization in the late 1800s, check out this Web site for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney at www.olympics.org One family enjoyed playing the online games they found at this site.

"Giving all the competitors a small treat is a good way to stem over-competitiveness."
--Elizabeth Wells

© Studio One Networks

Last modified on Sunday, 03 April 2011 07:23
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