Please take our survey

Summer Mini-Olympics

by Sharron Krull

The Summer Olympic Games will take place from July 27 to August 12, 2012 in London, England. But just don’t let the kids sit and watch, why not hold your own Mini-Olympics? Involve them in all the fun physical activity by staging a kid-friendly version on the playground or in your own backyard.

Opening Ceremonies
Provide materials for each child to make their own Olympic Flag (FLAGS). Kick-off your Mini-Olympics Day with a parade as the children march around holding their flags. Play music, such as the Olympic theme or “Star-Spangled Banner.”

In setting up a developmentally appropriate Mini-Olympic Day for young children remember to provide opportunities for every child to voluntarily choose from a variety of Olympic-style events. Set up stations where children can move from one event to another at their own pace and rate. Remind the children that finishing first is not as important as having a good time. The emphasis is more on fun than on skill.

Before starting any of the events, lead the children from station to station and explain and/or demonstrate the “how-to’s” or challenges of the event at each station. To get started, divide the class or group into equal numbers according to the number of stations set up. This eliminates children standing in a long line and waiting for their turn. For example, if you have 6 stations and 24 children, you would put 4 kids are each station. With a blow of a whistle (WHIS), children begin the physical challenge of the event. When they have completed that event they move on the next one and so forth until they have completed all the stations. And, of course, they can go through them again and again!

Let The Games Begin
• Target Toss (Archery): Draw a large circle on the asphalt using sidewalk chalk (SIDEWALK). Make smaller circles or place shape spots (SHSPOT) inside the large circle as targets. The players take turns tossing beanbags from a specified throwing line until they hit a target. 

• Running Races (Track and Field): Set up start and finish lines about 15-30 feet apart. Challenge the racers to run, walk backwards, gallop, crab walk or creep on hands and knees to get from the start line to the finish line.

• Throwing for Distance (Shot Put): Use a small sensory ball (SENBALL) or a tightly wrapped ball of aluminum foil for your makeshift shot put. Show the kids how to hold the ball near the ear and launch it forward by extending the arm. They cannot move their feet. How far can they throw the ball? 

• Jumping (Equestrian Jumping): Set up two cones fifteen feet apart. Have kids “saddle up” a ball hopper (horse), hold the handle and jump to the opposite cone and back again.

• Disc Toss (Discus Throw): Using a Frisbee or flying disc (FLYD), child will throw the disc (throw away from the waist with a flick of the wrist) as far as he/she can. How far did it “fly?”

• Kicking (Soccer): Set up a soccer goal (GOAL) a least fifteen feet from a specified kicking line. Players stand behind the line and kick a soccer ball (SOC) into the goal.

• Gymnastics (Olympic Gymnastics): Put out a tumbling mat (TMAT) and encourage children to freestyle dance with a streamer ribbon, do a trick with a hoop, and perform simple acrobatics (tumble, twirl, spin, etc.)
• Canoe Race (Canoeing and Kayaking): Set up five cones for children to weave through as they ride (sitting, kneeling or prone position) their scooter board or roller board kayak or canoe.

Closing Ceremonies
It doesn’t matter if there are no medals distributed for this Summer Mini-Olympics. What’s really important is how much fun everyone had as they played together and cheered each other on. Remember, the Olympics are a celebration of friendship, unity and peace!

Article courtesy of Sharron Krull

Teacher, Trainer, Author, Consultant & Play Guru


Shop & Learn

Families can make grocery shopping a learning experience with young children. As you shop, talk with your children about the shapes, colors, numbers, and letters you see throughout the store to make shopping fun. 

For example, ask your child to "point to a red fruit." If your child chooses an apple, tell him the name of the fruit by saying, "you pointed to an apple, good job! Apple begins with the letter A."

These activities will encourage and shape your young children's development.

Learn additional tips from the video below.

Gifts Kids Can Make - Easy Homemade Gifts Ages 2-6

Make a gift coupon for a special person.

Take a piece of paper, color, paint or decorate so that it looks like a coupon. Great ideas would be to help with chores such as picking up toys.

Make a beautiful picture frame for that special picture. Go to the dollar store and buy an inexpensive frame. Take craft glue and personalize with small items.

Scroll completely down the page for great ideas!

Fun Activities at Home

The following tips were developed by Mind in the Making, a project of the Families and Work Institute and New Screen Concepts.

You can turn every day household chores and activities into fun learning games for your child, no matter how old she or he is.

Reprinted with permission from United Way of America

Doing Laundry

Laundry is a frequent activity that young children love to join in - from watching clothes tumble to matching up socks. Find fun ways to help your children take part in these chores.

At Meals

For many, meals are a time when the whole family comes together. Learn how your mealtime discussions can help the development of your child and ways that foster learning.

At Bedtime

Help your child wind down at the end of the day and discover ways to make bedtime less stressful and more calming for all involved.

Soap Shapes

You'll need:

  • one bar of Ivory soap
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 drops of food coloring
  • cookie cutters
  • and a strong kitchen grater

Finely grate the soap in a big bowl, add water and coloring. Mix well and spoon into cookie cutters. Pack the mixture firmly and let dry overnight. You can also shape the soap into balls. Wrap in netting and tie up with a colorful ribbon.

Extra: If you want your soaps scented, you can add a few drops of essential oil or soap scent. Most craft stores will carry these items.

Pots of Love

Brighten dreary winter days, with brightly hand painted, terra cotta pots. Add a festive touch with gold and silver paint. A painted flowerpot can be filled with little stones and used for forcing bulbs. Or include some cuttings from some of your favorite houseplants.

Craft Corner- Wednesday, January 9

Posted with permission from WQLN:

Children Who Just Watch

While many young children, when given the opportunity, will immediately engage in play with others, families and early childhood teachers often encounter children who want only to watch from the side. These children will watch others playing around them-constructing a towering building; reenacting a battle of dinosaurs in the sandbox; putting on a puppet show- without actually getting involved.

Family members and teachers may be anxious when preschoolers do not engage in play with other children, but this "onlooker stage of play” can be an important step in the social development of young children. It is an opportunity for young children to learn and mentally practice interacting with others. With adult guidance, they’ll benefit from this thoughtful time.

In the onlooker stage, children don’t physically interact, but their minds and feelings are fully engaged in the play of others. You can see it in their faces and body language. Their eyes may open wide as they see a block building growing taller, then they may dart quickly to another corner to determine the location of the growling dinosaur sounds. Their faces may break into smiles at the antics of other children pretending to be monkeys and gorillas.

Each type of play has value: in solitary play, children acquire self-knowledge: other kinds of play help them build confidence, practice interacting, and learn how to cooperate with other children. Children who go through an onlooker (or “watcher”) stage get to be mentally engaged without the potential intimidation of actually being in the thick of things.

This engagement offers children opportunities to mentally manipulate what they see and hear, organizing and integrating information and storing it away for future use. The children may actually be mentally placing themselves into a situation they are observing, and testing how they might respond if they were involved.

As “watchers,” children have opportunities to manipulate their cognitive experience of the behaviors of others, gaining information which will later be used within the context of their physical, verbal, emotional, and social behaviors. The use of this information is not just imitation, but a true understanding of the causes, actions, and consequences of particular behaviors - similar to the way preschoolers might use self-talk or private speech to review what they have learned about words and language. The onlooker stage offers an opportunity to watch and learn before stepping into the action.

All young children do some watching; some young children do it a lot. We now know that this is a valuable experience for children. As family members and as early childhood teachers, we are often anxious when preschoolers are not willing to engage overtly in play with other children. Perhaps we should allow them more time to watch and learn. When the time is right, they will be more comfortable and successful moving into the world of full social interaction.


Excerpted with permission from He’s Watching! The importance of the Onlooker Stage of Play by Sarah Jane Anderson, which appeared in the National Association for the Education of Young Children journal Young Children Set the Stage.