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Olympic fun: Going for gold

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By Rose Joyceretired nursery teacher and advanced skills teacher

Plan your own fun Olympics.

Why not hold your own ‘fun Olympics’ in the new school year? Remember the spirit of the real Olympics is underpinned by international cooperation and peace. Try and build these values into your activities as you plan.

Children in a relay race

There is a lot to consider when planning such a momentous event. First, you need to enthuse and involve the children by giving them as much information as you can about the Olympics (visit the official website). Make a big display headed by the title ‘What we know about the Olympics’, and put up images of individual participants, leaflets and posters.

Planning your event

You will need to consider the following questions:

  • When will the event happen? Will there be timetabling issues for the use of outdoor space?
  • Will it happen on one day only or over a week(s) during PE sessions?
  • How will you record scores and choose the winning team?
  • Will you have an opening ceremony? Will you invite anyone to watch?
  • How will you select teams so that everyone feels included?
  • What activities will you run? Who will help?
  • What will you do if it rains? Will you arrange to hold the event inside or have an alternative date planned?

Selecting teams

Make six sets of laminated cards of five different fruits, vegetables or flowers, and put them in a bag (the number of sets will vary depending on the size of your class). Invite the children to select one image without looking at it. When everyone has taken a card, they should look at the image and find other people with the same image. You now have five teams who can work together and agree on a team name and logo.

Making medals

These can be as simple as decorated circles of card with a hole punched through one end and a ribbon threaded through. Make enough for all the children, so they can each be presented with a medal for participating in the event. Small cups or trophies can be purchased very cheaply for the winning teams.

Opening ceremony

Start by doing a few t’ai chi exercises to encourage a feeling of community, harmony, peace and cooperation. All stand in a big circle, feet apart, knees slightly bent, back straight and relaxed. Turn your waist to the left and let your arms swing softly to the left as well. Then turn your waist to the right and let your arms follow. Repeat several times then stand still, keeping your knees soft and back relaxed, while gently breathing in and out. Repeat. Each team can then parade their logo; they could even have a banner and be accompanied by some big band music.

Olympic events

Make a splash

Tie a length of rope between two rounders posts or across the fence in a corner of the playground. Attach five different coloured blown balloons on short lengths of string to the rope. Place a bucket of water in front of each hanging balloon about ten steps away. Put three sponges in each bucket. Each member of the team has three goes throwing one sponge at a time at their own balloon. They get one point for each hit.

Athletes’ circuit

Set up a circuit in your outdoor area and time each group as they complete it. The winning team is the one that completes it in the shortest time. The first stop on the circuit can be a hollow barrel to crawl through, followed by a ‘screaming mat’ where children jump on a mat and scream three times. Move on and jump over three hurdles of different heights, then shout ‘hello’ down a length of plastic drainpipe. Finally, finish the circuit by having children retrieve a stone from the bottom of a bucket of water and placing it on the finishing line as they cross.

Sticks and cones relay

Give the teams a stick and a pine cone. Each team member takes turns to move the pine cone with the stick to a given point. Here the next member of the team is waiting to move the pine cone to another team member, and so on until everyone has had a turn. The first team to finish and sit down is the winner.

Wibble and wobble

All teams sit down together. The teacher shouts things such as, Apple team dance. Apple team sit down… Repeat for other teams with different commands, such as: Jump up and down and turn around; wiggle your nose and crawl on the ground; stick out your tongue and wibble and wobble. Keep the laughter flowing and the pace brisk.

Closing ceremony

Champions’ feast

At end of the event, bring everyone back together and celebrate their collective and individual achievements by holding a feast. Invite spectators and parents to join in. Maybe sit in mixed teams in circles on carpet tiles, or grass if dry, and share fruit and a drink. This is a good opportunity to try some exotic fruits from different countries involved in the real Olympics.

Announcing the winners

Once the food has been shared, give all the children their medals for participating and present the winning team with their cup. Then form a big circle and hold your hands raised in the air, swaying from side to side. Finish off your fun Olympics by singing in loud voices a shortened version of the chorus from Queen’s, ‘We are the champions.’