Watching the Olympics as a family

Aug 6, 2008 at 11:42 a.m. ET

The Olympics were a big thing when I was a child. My whole family would get into them, gathering to see gymnasts perform high flying tumbles and swimmers racing to the finish. But in the age of nonstop entertainment where iPods are as common as earrings, can you still get your kids into the games? Definitely. You just need a few cool ideas.

August 8, 2008, the opening day of the Beijing Olympics is coming fast. If you haven't already decided how to make the experience memorable for your kids, here's a few ideas that are sure to get your whole family in the Olympic spirit.

Party time

Olympic themed parties are one way to get the whole family into the Olympic spirit. But how?

Lisa Kothari, owner of Peppers and Pollywogs, a kid's party planning business, suggests creating a pseudo-Olympics with games like sprints, egg spoon races and water balloon tosses. "Organize an Opening Ceremony when all of the kids have arrived. Have the kids create their own Olympic Flags using small wooden dowels and crepe paper in red, white and blue. Once their flags have been made, play the Olympic-themed music and open your games with everyone waving their flags," Kothari says.

If hands-on competition isn't your bag, Mary Beth Kriskey, a self-proclaimed cool aunt, suggests gathering moms and daughters for a special viewing party. "I provide guests with score pads and U.S. flags to wave. My guests are welcome to bring their own flag, representing their family heritage, etc. I serve "hero" sandwiches, and make "Triple Loop" Fruit Loops squares (similar to Rice Krispie squares, except with Fruit Loops)," says Kriskey.

A learning experience

The Olympics are a great opportunity to teach your children about geography, different cultures, sports, scoring and more. Sharon Silver from Proactive Parenting suggests that families can also each root for athletes from different countries."Parents may want to suggest that [each person choose] athletes from other countries so the family can learn about other countries. They [can] make a little flag from construction paper that looks like the flag from that country. The child puts the name of the country on the front and their name on the back. If there are four people in a family, there will be four flags from 4 different countries ready and waiting for that event to be broadcast," Silver says. Then, Silver suggests, using the different countries as jumping off points to talk about the different cultures.

Watching the Olympics is also a great way to teach your children about good sportsmanship. Talk to your children about how athletes react at the end of their competition and how winners behave on the medal stands. Ask your kids how what they see can apply to the sports that they play?

Get creative

To give your kids a lasting reminder of the Beijing Olympics, get some blank books for kids to paste news stories, photos, and their own drawing into. Get out the markers, crayons, colored pencils and glitter and let the kids decorate their books while watching the games.


To ensure that everyone in the family gets to watch something they enjoy, be sure to set your TIVO to record sports that are played during the day. Then set aside time in the evening to sit down together and watch some of the day's games. Alternate whose sports are being watched each day so that everyone gets a turn -- and make sure that everyone watches together, no matter whose day it is.

Read More: