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Up Your Olympic Game!

The teams are set.  The venues are ready.  Paris awaits.  It is a summer Olympic year and we are ready to have some fun with it!

Opening ceremonies are July 26, 2024.


I am always inspired by the Olympics. Every four years, the world comes together to celebrate competition, athleticism, and sport.  As always, this year’s games are certain not to disappoint. They will captivate us with great acts of perseverance, endurance, and strength. There will be dramatic triumphs and trials. We will witness acts of friendship, leadership, and compassion.  The human element, for me, is by far the best part of the games, bringing with it tears, celebration, and a desire to be a better human being.


The Olympics can be more than just an opportunity for your family to sit together and absorb the action.  It can be a very special and memorable time.  Like slipping a handful of spinach into your kids’ smoothies, The Olympic Games offer opportunities to sneak in some life and academic lessons. It may even create some memorable bonding opportunities. 


Let’s use the Olympic rings to represent

five learning opportunities:


The blue ring represents character.


As we watch the events, and listen to commentary, you will inevitably recognize character traits that reflect values important to your family.  Be on the lookout for times when athletes or coaches model these values.  Resist the urge to lecture, but definitely call attention to athletes who demonstrate traits that you hope your children will aspire to. Use these models (s) to spark family conversation.  Be curious about your kids’ experience of them. A conversation might sound something like this:


Wow! Did you know Suni Lee has a chronic illness? I think it’s incredible that she is still competing at such a high level. How do you think she was able to do that? I admire her determination.


I can see that you think Victor Montalvo (break dancer) is really cool.  Why do you like him?


Keep an eye out for opportunities to sneak in lessons about setting goals, achievement, or responding to setbacks. These are all lessons you might refer to during the back-to-school season.


The yellow ring represents cultural awareness.


  • Pick up a world map to lay it out on the table or hang on a wall.  Use stickers or map flags to mark the countries as they walk in during the Parade of Nations.  Locate athletes’ home countries while you watch the events.

  • Expand cultural awareness by trying food from some of the participating countries or hosting a Parisian-style dinner. Create your menu and choose recipes together.


The black ring represents competition.


  • Use the games to inspire your own competitions. Brainstorm some ideas with your kids.  Here are a few to get you started.

  • Use a balloon for a safe slow-mo indoor volleyball game. A rope tied between two chairs can be your net. Later, attach a paint stick to a paper plate for a racquet.  Now you have a tennis match.

  • Two pool noodles can be a kayak.  More pool noodles and floating toys can be a slalom course. 

  • A strip of masking tape can be a balance beam.


The green ring represents math.


  • Keep a tally of each country's wins on your map.  The tally marks encourage counting by 5’s.

  • Use the athlete’s scores to practice a wide variety of math equations.  Resist drill and practice, just wonder out loud.  “I wonder, how close is Noah Lyles’ time is from beating the sprinting world record?”  “Let’s jog 100 meters because I am not sure how long that is” “How many more years until the Olympics is back in the US?” “How many Olympics have there been in my lifetime? In Grandmas?”

  • Play games. For example, use sidewalk chalk to draw a target on the wall outside.  Toss water balloons at the target. Use the rules of archery to score the game.  When you google how to score archery, you will see it is not complicated but there are multiple steps which is great for organic math practice.


The red ring represents creativity.


  • Turn off the sound on your TV and pretend to commentate the games live.

  • Make a commercial to watch in between events.

  • Pretend you were tasked to create the next Olympic mascot.  Draw it.

  • Using recyclables, design medals for your family’s Olympic games.



And if you are looking to expand beyond these rings, make your way to the library.  Investigate countries, sports, athletes, the history of the games...  whatever makes your kids (and you) curious.  Multiply the fun by joining with friends to create a neighborhood Olympics club. 


If you’d rather not be in charge of the festivities, many youth organizations and education centers will be hosting Olympic-themed camps and activities like the ones offered by, The Study Coaches. 


Childhood is fleeting and so few Olympic Games fall during that time.  Embrace this fleeting moment and immerse yourselves in the wonder of the events. Don’t miss your family’s moment to embody the Olympic motto:


“Faster, higher, stronger”…together.

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