Start your Olympic games off with your children making torches. The tradition of the Olympic flame and torch are as old as the Olympics. For each Olympics a new flame is started in Greece and then paraded around until it makes it to the host city. For this kid friendly torch all you'll need is tissue paper and tin foil. I had my niece stack three sheets of tissue paper (red, orange, and yellow) on top of one another. Then she folded it in half (horizontally), and twisted the bottom portion of the paper together. I tore a piece of tin foil for her, and we wrapped in around the twisted tissue paper.
Now it was time to make a wreath of olive branches. Historically the wreath of branches was placed on the winner's head. I explained to my five year old niece that she would have to wait until the games were over to wear the "headband" as she called it. I winked and told her that I had a good feeling that she was going to be a winner! I made a leaf stencil out of a file folder and gave her some green paper, a pencil, and some scissors. She did a great job tracing, and thought it was the coolest thing to fold the paper in half to get two leaves for one! We worked on the skills of holding her scissors correctly and cutting. I love how her leaves turned out, compared to the "perfect" leaves I would have made for her. She then glued them on to a long narrow piece of paper to make a wreath for her head.
To get ready for the start of our games we did a little photo shoot wearing togas. Truth be told, the first Olympians competed nude. I didn't even broach that subject with a five year old! We read about the Olympic motto and oath and talked about the importance of good sportsmanship. We were ready to start our games! We'll see you back here for day two of Backyard Olympics where we'll featuring our first "sports"!
Here are some extension activities for different age groups:
Preschool/Early Elementary: The activities that this little Olympian did are great for any preschool or early elementary student. You could also have them trace the words Swifter, Higher, Stronger (the Olympic motto) and have them draw the Olympic flag with its five interlocking rings using round lids.
Middle/Late Elementary: Children in this age range can design a costume and prepare an authentic dish for the Opening Ceremonies, research the history of the ancient or modern games, and/or design the route for the Olympic flame. Give them a map of England and let them highlight a route that ends up in London.