Want to have a quality television viewing experience with your preschooler? Try tuning in to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games being held in Sochi, Russia. Filled with plenty of action and drama that will keep you both glued to your seats, the Olympic games are also a wonderful learning opportunity for your preschooler. From world geography and culture to sportsmanship and friendship, through the games themselves, the opening and closing ceremonies, and all the news and excitement that surround the Olympics, there are plenty of important lessons to share and enjoy with your little one. These games and activities will help your preschooler learn more about the games while having fun too!
What and Where are the Winter Olympic Games?
Before you watch any of the winter games, explain to your preschooler about what they are all about. Don't get too complicated -- the games themselves are pretty self-explanatory. Instead, focus on how every two years (alternating between the summer and the winter), people from around the world come together to a city to play different kids of sports together.
Some are sports that your little one has probably seen before such as ice skating, skiing, and hockey. Others, such as curling, might not be quite as familiar. Talk about how there are Olympic games held in both the summer and the winter and how all of the countries get to take turns hosting them. Show your preschooler a map of the world, and together, find the city of Sochi. Ask your preschooler questions: Is Sochi near or far to your house? How could you get there from your house? And as you watch together, ask your preschooler to point out the differences between Sochi and your hometown.
Become a Fan
If you really want to bring the Olympic games home for your child, do a little homework. Are there any athletes from your local area competing? If so, become a fan, and follow their adventures as they compete. If you can't find a person from your hometown or surrounding area, choose a sport that your preschooler likes and watch those games together. As you watch, talk about the competitors, the uniforms, their home countries, their flag, etc.
Make an Olympic Flag
The five rings on the Olympic flag aren't just a pretty design that someone thought up. They stand for the five major areas in the word, including Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania. They also represent friendship, peace, and sportsmanship. Teach your preschooler about this important symbol by helping him make his own using white paper and markers or by cutting out colored strips of paper. Alternatively, make or buy an American flag to wave at the games, or that of another country you are rooting for. (Need ideas? Check out these American flag crafts and recipes.)
Host Your Own Preschool Winter Olympic Games
While watching the Olympic games are certainly fun, round up some more families (try members of your child's preschool playgroup or some of your friends with kids) and host your own pint-sized Olympics and Olympic party. While you can certainly try to mimic what you see on television, unless you have lots of snow outside (and mountains and an ice rink!) the winter games don't always translate well to a home setting. If you can head outside, make up your own fun competitions using these snow activities or try some of these other fun indoor events:
- Bean bag toss
- Freeze dance competition
- Jumping (who jumps the highest? The furtherest?)
- Pillow fort building
- Hot potato
When you are finished, be sure to hand out medals (see below for some fun ideas) and then serve up dishes from around the world. Ask your guests to bring something that reflects their heritage and learn from each other.
Make Your Own Medals
For many, the best part of the Olympics are the medal ceremonies. It's not hard to get choked up as an athlete is awarded the highest honor in sports while their national anthem is played. For your Olympic games (or just to have fun), help your preschooler make their own Olympic medals using circles cut out of cardboard that you cover with foil and tie on with colorful ribbon.