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Fun Olympics-inspired activities for kids to get them excited for the main event

Host your own family Olympic Games or plan Olympics-inspired activities for the kids using these easy and fun ideas to get ready for the 2024 summer games.

Fun Olympics-inspired activities for kids to get them excited for the main event

The summer Olympics are an exciting time for people around the world. Not only do we get to watch top athletes like Simone Biles and Tara Davis-Woodhall compete for Olympic gold, but it’s also a chance to come together for important lessons about teamwork, sportsmanship, accomplishing goals and showing grace under pressure. For parents and caregivers especially, the Olympic Games offer a great opportunity to get kids excited about putting down the iPad, trying new things and getting active.

The Olympics can definitely get kids excited about physical activity, says Josh York, a certified personal trainer and founder and CEO of GYMGUYZ. “Watching the world’s top athletes compete can be incredibly inspiring for kids and may ignite their passion for sports and fitness.”

Whether kids are inspired to go for the gold or just meet up with friends for a game of volleyball at the park, here are some fun Olympics-inspired games and activities you can use to get them excited about this summer’s Olympic Games and keep the whole family active and entertained.

When are the 2024 Olympics?

The 2024 Olympics will take place from July 26 through August 11. The games will be held in Paris, France, and opening ceremonies will include a parade and multiple events. Sports featured in the summer olympic games include everything from fan favorites like gymnastics, volleyball and swimming to boxing, archery and badminton.

How the Olympics can get kids excited about being active

“Kids need to stay active to grow strong and healthy and keep their bones and muscles in good shape,” says Dr. Chris Mohr, fitness and nutrition advisor at Fortune Recommends Health. “Plus, regular physical activity helps improve mental health, reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression and improving overall happiness.”

“Encouraging kids to try activities they like and celebrating their efforts helps them see exercise as a positive part of life.”

— Dr. Chris Mohr, fitness and nutrition advisor at Fortune Recommends Health

Parents and caregivers play a major role in encouraging positive health behaviors for kids. Children can learn a lot from watching the adults in their lives participate in regular exercise and model the importance of staying fit and active.

“More is caught than taught, so when they see you be active and it’s a way of life, they’re more likely to make it part of their own lifestyle,” Mohr explains. “Encouraging kids to try activities they like and celebrating their efforts helps them see exercise as a positive part of life.”

But planning activities and playing together is also a way to get them excited about being active. “Engaging in activities together, like family walks or playing games at the park, can make exercise enjoyable,” says Taryn Parker, director of curriculum and training for The Little Gym International. “It’s important to keep activities playful and avoid making them feel like chores.”

And when it comes to the Olympic Games, you have a built-in reason to plan fun events, activities and games for the whole crew. “There are numerous Olympics-inspired games and activities that families can enjoy at home,” York says. Here are some recommendations from the experts.

Olympic games for kids and families to play at home

1. Organize a relay race

“Set up a simple relay race in the backyard or a local park,” Parker recommends. “Friends can join in and represent different countries with homemade flags to channel the excitement of the Olympics.” Plus, she adds, relay races promote teamwork and add a competitive, fun element to physical activity.

The best part of a relay is that it’s fully customizable: You can make the course as long or as short as you want, you can vary the number of participants and you can require walking, running, tagging or any other competitive element.

Here are some fun variations of kids relay races to try:

  • Egg and spoon race: Participants compete by walking (or running!) as fast as they can while balancing an egg on a spoon.
  • Water bucket relay: Racers compete to fill up a bucket of water — one little cup at a time.
  • Crab walk relay: Walking only on their hands and feet, kids must scuttle to the finish line.
  • Mix-it-up relay race: Kids divide into teams to race, but each player must complete the race in a different way — by walking, running, skipping, hopping, etc.
  • Wheelbarrow walks: “Parents can support their child’s hips as they walk on their hands towards a finish line,” Parker explains. “This activity is great for building core strength and coordination.”

2. Build a backyard obstacle course

“Setting up obstacle courses with challenges can be exciting and promote physical skills like agility and coordination,” York says. Best of all, you can build an obstacle course using objects and outdoor equipment you likely already have around the house. Here are some DIY obstacles to include:

  • Jumping over hurdles, like buckets, toys or balls.
  • Crawling under ropes.
  • Jump-roping or skipping through parts of the course.
  • Adding a hopscotch board with chalk.
  • Sack-racing or bunny hopping.
  • Crawling through hula hoops or playground equipment.
  • Weaving through cones or flags.

3. Practice archery with DIY bows and arrows

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You can create a simple archery competition using low cost supplies and items you might already have at home. First, craft a DIY bow and arrow set using these instructions from Research Parent. The parent blogger says she was able to make two bows and six arrows for under $10.

Next, use recycled cardboard and some markers or crayons to make DIY targets. Kids can also just shoot their bows in the backyard or at a park and measure to see who shoots their arrow the farthest. Though these are kid-friendly DIY arrows with soft eraser tips, be careful! Just like the Olympians probably do, kids should discuss safety and never point their arrows at each other.

4. Host an at-home track and field event

Recreating track and field events at home can add an extra element of fun because you’re mimicking the excitement of the games, York says. Track and field isn’t just about running, though the relay races mentioned above can easily slot into this activity. Once you’re done with those, consider adding these other games:

  • Long jumps: Designate a starting point for kids to run and jump. Mark their jump using chalk or ribbon. The longest jump is the winner.
  • Sprinting: Mark a short track for kids to race at full speed. Fastest finish time wins!
  • Discus throw: Use a frisbee or even two decorated paper plats glued together to create a DIY discus throw. The farthest thrower gets the gold!

You can judge each “event” individually or award medals based on the cumulative scores after all events are completed. “These activities not only get kids moving but also promote camaraderie and a healthy competitive spirit within the family,” York adds.

5. Try a balance beam walk (and other gymnastics)

“Create a balance beam using tape on the floor,” Parker says. “Kids can walk forward, sideways or on their tiptoes along the beam. This exercise enhances balance and introduces listening skills and directionality.”

For more gymnastics fun, you can also incorporate ribbon dancing, batons, simple rolls and stretches. To start building muscles for gymnastics moves like handstands, Parker recommends donkey kicks.

“Start in a downward dog position, and encourage children to lift one foot at a time,” she instructs. “For older kids, try doing small jumps with both feet. This activity is excellent for building strength and confidence.”

6. Plan a bike race

Choose a trail or park nearby where you can safely ride bikes without interruptions, cars or needing to cross busy streets and sidewalks. You can either race to see who can finish the course the fastest or stick together and complete a certain distance, elevation or strive for a goal time to finish the ride.

If kids aren’t into bikes, you could also plan to ride scooters, use roller skates or even go for a long hike or speed walk.

7. Hold a DIY duct tape sail boat race

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Sailing is one Olympic sport you might not be able to recreate at home, but you can craft your own version of a sail boat race using duct tape. Following these DIY sail boat instructions from Julie Measures, let each kid customize their own watercraft. After that, it’s off to the races!

Kids can race their boats in a bathtub, on a water table or even just in a large plastic tub full of water. The duct tape makes them waterproof, and they can use a simple straw and their own breath to provide the wind.

8. Channel Olympic swimmers with pool games

If you have access to a swimming pool, you’ve got an endless supply of Olympics-themed fun at your fingertips. Kids can compete in short races or attempt the best jump into the pool (judged by you, of course!), but that’s not all. Here are some Olympic-style pool games you might try at home:

  • Diving races: Kids dive for rings or other toys. Whomever collects the most in the shortest time wins.
  • Water basketball: Get a small basketball and hoop for the pool or create your own using a pool noodle and a small ball.
  • Sharks and minnows: One player is the shark and attempts to catch the minnows (other players) as they swim from one side of the pool to the other.
  • Pool javelin: Use a pool noodle as a javelin. Throw it at different targets, such as a pool chair, floatie or other object. The first to hit the target is the winner.
  • Marathon swim: Have kids compete to see how many laps they can swim without stopping. They can rest and then try to best their own record!

Remember to practice pool safety while you play. Kids should never be in the pool without a supervising adult nearby.

Other ways to celebrate the 2024 Summer Olympics

9. Make DIY Olympic medals

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Grab some glue, recycled cardboard and metallic craft paint, and craft these DIY Olympic medals from Project Nursery. The kids will love having real prizes to compete for. If you’re feeling extra crafty, you can even bedazzle your medals with glitter — though cleaning that up may be an Olympic sport all by itself.

10. Test your Paris trivia

Since the 2024 Summer Olympic Games are in Paris this year, use it as an opportunity to learn about the country of France. Together, look up fun facts about France, study important landmarks, learn French words and maybe even sample some French cuisine. Then, host a trivia event complete with prizes for the winners. You can find fun facts about Paris and the rest of France by checking out these resources:

11. Make Olympics-themed treats and snacks

During your Olympic festivities, you’re going to need some snacks and drinks. You could also organize a watch party for the Olympic Games opening ceremonies. Here are some creative food and drink recipes that fit the theme:

12. Play Summer Olympics Bingo

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Physical activities aren’t the only way to get pumped for the Olympics. This printable Olympics Bingo card from Studio DIY is another way to introduce Olympic sports to kids, talk about different athletes and start building anticipation for different Olympic events.

You could even print out the cards and use them as you watch the games. Each time you watch a sport, mark it off. The first person to watch enough of the games to fill out a row on their card wins!

The bottom line

The Olympics offer an exciting opportunity for the whole family to get inspired by world class athletes, get active and find new ways to bond. Plus, they’re a great way to provide kids with organic ways to learn about values like teamwork, dedication and hard work.

Planning Olympic games for kids is a great way to strengthen their physical abilities and spark their interest in brand new activities. “The excitement and pageantry of the Olympics can motivate kids to try new sports and activities, nurturing a love for physical fitness and a newfound confidence,” Parker concludes.