This image made available by LOCOG shows torchbearer 098 Patricia Pearce MBE carrying the Olympic Flame outside Blenheim Palace on the Torch Relay leg between Bicester and Woodstock, England. AP/Chris Radburn, LOCOG
The countdown is on and there's less than a fortnight to go before the London 2012 Olympics. It is important then to encourage kids to get excited about the Olympics. Whether your kids are hard core athletes or just play sports for fun, they would definitely be aware of the upcoming games and perhaps getting excited too.
Britain as the host country has involved children in the build-up to the grand spectacle at every level. Nationwide programmes have been launched to encourage children to read from libraries; participate in online interactive poetry games; making films; learn sports reporting and even try out different sports with basic coaching provided. But of course, the Olympics enthusiasm is not restricted to Britain alone.At the school level in India, teachers are already using the Olympics theme for a variety of activities and projects.
Here are some interesting ideas to get your kids interested in the world's largest sporting event and enjoy the games as they unfold.
Exchange a did-you-know
With over 14,000 athletes from 204 Olympic teams and 170 Paralympic teams coming together for the event, you are sure to come across many interesting facts about this and previous games. For example, while children probably expect the inclusion of traditional athletics in the Olympic sports line up, they may be surprised to see events such as Bicycle Motorcress (BMX) included within the itinerary. The mascots this time will surely raise some questions - they are not animals but a one-eyed metal bodied alien called Wenlock. Older children will enjoy the challenge of digging up a new and lesser-known Olympic fact every day. Turn it into a game and exchange your nugget of information at the end of the day to make it more fun.
Plan your own garden Olympics
This is one time you will thank toy makers and be happy to bring out packs of bows and rubber tip arrows, soft bullet guns and such like to create your own version of the Olympics. The elders in the family can act as judges and a points tally must be maintained till all 'events' are over. Simplify rules, use any play equipment that you already have installed in your garden or neighbourhood park and let the games begin! You can get ideas for games and competitions from many websites such as http://www.livestrong.com/article/365297-summer-olympic-games-for-kids/
Resources on the internet
There are no medals for this form of surfing, but your reward is the wealth of information on the Olympics available online. Start with the official website http://www.london2012.com/and get an update on the progress of the torch relay, explore the profiles of legendary Olympians and Paralympians, find out more about the sports taking place at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, or learn about the London 2012 venues. An offshoot of the official site is http://getset.london2012.com/en/home, the official London 2012 education programme with resources designed to educate children about the event. You will find facts and figures,inspirational films, fun games and activities, picture stories etc. The popular search engines will point you towards wonderful resources for Olympics colouring pages, puzzles, games etc. Take the Olympics route to study about the participating countries, their flags, Olympics history, maps etc.
This may be a good time for reading about the Olympics for the whole family. For the youngest, animal stories based on the games such as Panda Goes to the Olympics by Judith Simanovsky would be a great place to start. They would also enjoy Olympic adventures by their favourite characters such as Asterix, Smurfs, Geronimo Stilton, Hardy Boys and Tom Swift Young Inventor. Mary Pope Osborne, author of Magic Tree House series also takes children into Ancient Greece in Hour of the Olympics and Ancient Greece and the Olympics. Another interesting read would be The Fairyland Olympics by Meg Clibbon. Go back into time with Michael Ford in You Wouldn't Want to Be a Greek Athlete. Older children would enjoy inspirational stories of the lives of famous Olympians such as Michael Jordan, Wilma Rudolf, Shawn Johnson. Salt in His Shoes by Deloris Jordan is another story about Michael Jordan, written by his mother and his sister.
Make a Olympic medal tally
Once the games begin, the kids are likely to get caught up with the excitement and follow the events as they take place, especially those with Indian participation. Television events and online results will help kids keep track of medal tally. Keep a chart and have fun updating it with the latest results.