This summer, get your kids and their friends together for a fun field day in the back yard. Make prizes and organize games that encourage teamwork and physical fitness.

Get kids moving

Want to host your very own summer Olympic games? Invite young athletes and their young-at-heart parents to your backyard for a fun fitness challenge that embraces the spirit of teamwork.

Spread the word

Set a date and begin your public relations campaign for the Backyard Games. Ask your children to pick several friends to attend. Invite parents as well, so every young athlete has a cheerleader or two. Save money and go eco-friendly with online invitations. Since you’ll be doing the organizing and decorating, ask parents to bring refreshments for a potluck lunch and on-the-go hydration. In your invitations, invite parents to suggest specific sports their children would enjoy participating in. Check in with everyone a week before your Backyard Games to get a final count for prizes and sports gear.

Get free Olympics printables for kids >>

The opening ceremonies

Invite the kids to put together an opening ceremony celebration. Help them create costumes and decorations using paper bags and cloth remnants. Skip fireworks — those are better left to the professionals. Instead, hang colorful balloons and streamers. This is the perfect time to invite kids to perform karaoke songs or choreograph dances for the spectators who have come to witness the Backyard Games. Use the backyard opening ceremonies as a chance to show your kids clips from real Olympics opening ceremonies for inspiration. Don’t forget to test your sound system ahead of time.

Let the games begin

When choosing your sports, make sure kids of all skill levels and ages are given a chance to compete. Focus less on winning and more on the experiences of being silly and having fun. Try balloon tosses, dance-offs and backyard volleyball. If you have a swimming pool, swim races are a no-brainer. For those who aren’t so into competitive racing, host a freestyle not-so-synchronized swimming competition as well. In addition to a relay race, host a scavenger hunt. Use a whiteboard to share the schedule of events with your guests and little athletes. Dry erase markers make it easy to switch up the schedule on the fly.

Create prizes

Check local thrift stores for old trophies or buy inexpensive ribbons at the party store or online. Make sure every participant is given a prize. You know your children and their friends best. If you think they can handle competition without meltdowns and hurt feelings, go with gold, silver and bronze medals for the sports with clear winners. If not, it’s best to keep all of the prizes exactly the same. Avoid prizes like candy that some kids may have to avoid due to age or allergy restrictions. Consider enlisting other parents to serve as “judges” during your Backyard Games. Invite them to give each child a superlative for the awards ceremony, such as “best water gun dodger” and “most impressive bellyflop.”

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