A time when the world unites in energy, efforts and friendly competition, the Olympic Games seem to be a two-week period when everyone ‘speaks the same language’. Replays of an exciting race, a courageous finish, the athlete to watch and the tally of gold medals are conversations echoed between people and countries. That doesn’t happen very often, if you think about it! They inspire, thrill, motivate, engage, and excite us all!
The Olympic Games is a super appealing theme that kids will jump at the chance to participate in! The inspirational stories of athletes who have overcome challenges in life epitomize the “can do attitude” and perseverance that helps our children grow.
Those who follow us know that we are all about play at the local park or playground. It’s fun, therapeutic, outdoor adventure and naturally provides a wide variety of opportunities that promote optimal development! We planned each game below around the contents of our park kit and common park/playground equipment. Bringing one thing, three things, or nothing, and there’s still fun to be had! What’s in the kit? Click here for details!
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So, without further adieu, we bring you SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES AT THE PARK!
Looking to plan your Olympic Games with your child? Download our Olympic Games Activity Sheets HERE to plan your games and color/cut/wear the winning medal once the games are completed!
Ok! On your mark, get set, go!
Personal Best – Whether you have a group of kids, or an individual child, sometimes competitive sports can be provoke feelings of inadequacy, charged emotions, and hurt feelings. Acknowledging a child’s feelings of disappointment, worry or frustration is important. Make sure to voice that you hear or see that these feelings are big for your child. If competition is just too much, try any of these games using a ‘personal best’ tone that everyone can enjoy!
Any of these games can be for one or more people, so decide what works best for all involved!
Balloon Volleyball – Using a bicycle pump, hand pump, or some great big breaths, inflate a balloon and tie. How many times can you hit it to keep it from touching the ground? To increase the challenge, draw a line in the sand and play with 2 or more people, more closely mimicking a real volleyball game. Ready to mix things up? Try to use only one body part to hit the balloon. (i.e. elbow, foot, head)
What you need: balloon pump, balloons
Skills developed: visual tracking, visual-motor coordination, upper body strength, motor planning
Fencing– A pool noodle cut in half creates 2 safe fencing foils (that’s the sword) ready for the match! In the actual sport of fencing, contact with the opponent’s torso counts as a point. Arms, legs, and head do not count. Add a balance element by having the participants stand on a low balance beam or curb!
What you need: pool noodles
Skills developed: visual-motor coordination, hand strength, balance
Crab Soccer– While in a crab walk position, kick the ball towards a designated goal to earn a point! Playing solo? Have your ‘crab’ dribble the ball down the field to score!
What you need: Gertie Ball
Skills developed: strength, motor planning, coordination
Equestrian – While seated on a scooter board (horse), have child hold one end of a rope while someone pulls him along! Please use safety precautions with this activity, and assess if you feel your child’s postural control is adequate to remain upright and safe. If you notice unsteady balance or anticipate falls, have the child shift positions to lying on his stomach. Place beanbags around on the ground and while he is being pulled, have the child reach to collect each one along the path! These could also act as hay bales to feed his ‘horse’ after a long ride!
Skills developed: strength, motor planning, balance, trunk co-contraction
Scooterboard Field Hockey– While laying belly down on the scooter board, use ½ or 1/3 of a pool noodle as a hockey stick and swat the ball (aka puck) into a designated goal/net! Create a court to play with friends, or take shots one little athlete at a time. Check out this video example!
Skills developed: strength, trunk co-contraction, visual-motor coordination, visual tracking
Pool Noodle Golf – Keep that pool noodle and Gertie Ball handy as you shift to a standing position for a round of golf! Find a large open space for those line drives and tip the tub on its’ side to carefully putt the ball for a hole in one!
Skills developed: balance, trunk strength, bilateral coordination, visual-motor coordination
Park Pentathlon – 5 events tied into one package, the Park Pentathlon can be any combination of park play ideas that you create! Think obstacle course using park equipment, or putting 5 of the ideas in this post together, like a couple of track and field events with running or scooter boarding in between! Plan your Pentathlon with your child, using our Park Pentathlon Course printable here!
What you need: 5 activities or obstacles
Skills developed: motor planning, coordination, following directions (Skills may change depending on the activities that you choose!)
You may want: Sportime Move Cubes are fantastic for customizing activities, actions, and even creative academics! On paper or notecards, write a movement, action or list the park equipment and slide one notecard in each of the clear, plastic sleeves on each side of one cube. On the other cube, place one number on each side. Rolling both dice will give the child an action and how many times to complete the action!
Triathlon – Traditionally this event consists of swim, bike and run segments. At the park, anything goes! Here are a couple triads that can create great fun! We know that you have some amazing ideas as well, and we encourage you and your child to use them too!
- Scooter board on belly across a paved court or the length of a path.
- Pick up a beanbag or balloon and try to run back with it squeezed between your knees.
- Climb up the side to the finish line/winners podium!
- Draw the letters of the child’s name in a mixed up order on the ground. Using a squirt bottle have the child squirt each letter in sequence to spell his name correctly!
- Scooter board, in a seated position, towards a climbing structure.
- Climb up and over, across or any which way to get to the other side for the victorious finish!
What you need: 3 activities or obstacles (We’re tellin’ ya…those Move Cubes are awesome to create new sequences of actions!)
Skills developed: motor planning, coordination, following directions (Skills worked on are also dependent on which activities you choose!)
Synchronized Swinging – A play off of synchronized swimming, synchronized swinging is rewarding yet tough! On side-by-side swings, try to pump with your swing partner at the same time, using the same force, to go the same height! Once in sync, call out actions that the kids can do while swinging, or have them create their own! Some examples are: flutter kick your legs, bend your right leg then bend your left leg, open and close your legs like scissors 5 times. Can they stay in sync?
What you need: two swings, side by side
Skills developed: balance, trunk control, strength, bilateral motor control, motor planning, teamwork and social skills
Track and Field
Shot-put: How far can your child throw a beanbag or ball?
Long Jump: Measure the distance of each jump. What is the child’s personal best?
What you need: sandbox or stretch of grass, lines to measure distance
Hurdles: Line up pool noodles, branches or chalk lines on the ground. Instead of running and leaping over (it’s pretty easy to do when the hurdle is laying on the ground), have child jump over each hurdle with both feet together! Place them jump distance apart, or a little extra for running room in between.
Javelin Toss: How far can that pool noodle be thrown? Can your child get it to land in the tub, or inside of a drawn circle in the sand?
Sprint or Distance Run– Choose a ‘there and back’ course. Basketball courts or big grassy areas work well. Place beanbags at one end of the court or area. Have child run to the end, pick up a beanbag and race back to throw it in the tub!
Up the challenge: Print, color and place a picture of the Olympic rings at the start (like this one from KidSpot), numbering each ring 1-5. Using color coded beanbags, have the child identify which color to pick up first in the sequence, run to collect and bring it back. Continue with each color until all have been collected!
Skills developed: serial motor planning, coordination, visual motor coordination, strength
Scooter Board Slalom– Place beanbags on the ground randomly and draw a chalk line path weaving in and out of them. Have the child maneuver the scooter board on the path without touching the beanbags!
Skills developed: visual motor coordination, motor coordination
Beanbag Archery– Place beanbags at the top of a slide. One at a time, climb up the side to retrieve a beanbag and slide back down. Once at the bottom, have the child throw the beanbag at a target (tree, ball balanced on your hand). Continue this sequence until beanbags are all used, and count how many times the child hit the target!
What you need: beanbags, target, slide
Skills developed: visual-motor coordination, strength, trunk strength, arm strength
Squirt Bottle Archery Math– A little theme play can go a long way when you are trying to sprinkle in a little math practice! Draw numbers on the sidewalk. Call out a math problem and have the child squirt the number that is his answer using the water squirt bottle! You can also do this with Olympic trivia: How many rings are in the Olympic rings? The bronze medal means you finished #1, #2, or #3?
Skills developed: visual-motor coordination, motor planning, hand strength, academics
Scooter Board Swimming– This one is extra fun if you have a wall to push off of! While the child is on his belly on a scooter board, push off from the wall using feet to glide across a smooth, paved surface. Using hands/arms to push himself the rest to the other side, turn around and come back. That counts as one lap. Remind your child to try to keep his hands and legs up off of the pavement for as long as possible to extend the glide!
You can also hold a long rope, or tie it to something stable. Drape it as far as it will reach for the stretch of your surface so your swimmer can pull himself back to the wall and start another lap. Use the squirt bottle to mist your swimmers as they complete their laps!
Skills developed: strength, trunk co-contraction, motor planning, balance
Weightlifting – Add some sand to your park kit tub or bucket. Tie one end of the rope securely to the handles and fling the other end up and over a chin-up bar or one of the monkey bars. Have your child slowly pull the rope, hand over hand, to elevate the bucket off of the ground. Add more sand each time to increase the weight of the bucket and build big muscles!
Skills developed: upper body strength, grip strength, gradation of force to slowly elevate and lower tub, body awareness
Diving– Keeping an upright body position (unless you are really diving into a pool!), find a surface that is an appropriate height for your child to jump off of. Create a body position or short sequence for the child to imitate while in mid-jump! How many different positions can your child think of? Call out a body part for your child to tap during the jump! You can also try these same activities sliding down a slide!
What you need: a curb, park bench or end of a slide to jump off of, slide
Skills developed: motor coordination, motor planning, short term memory, auditory processing and actions based on verbal instruction
Don’t forget to celebrate all of the victories with blowing bubbles at the end of your Olympic day at the park!
For some tabletop Olympic fun, click here to check out these great printable and blogged about ideas from Activity Village!
A super cute, Olympic themed Find and Color activity page can also be found over at Your Therapy Source! (There is actually an entire packet of summer Olympic activities you can find there too!)
To download your FREE set of our Summer Olympic Games printables, click here
What are some of your favorite Olympic themed activites to bring to the park or playground? Comment below to share your ideas!