Stuff We Like: Get Ready for the Olympics!
Are your kids excited for the Olympics? The Summer Games come around only once every four years, so don’t miss a moment of the action (which kicks off with the opening ceremony this Friday). Settling in to watch awe-inspiring athletes from across the globe come together to compete for their countries and vie for the gold is a great family bonding activity (plus, it’s the perfect excuse to beat the heat and stay in the AC!). And the great part about the Games is there’s something for everyone, from basketball to BMX to trampoline (yup, trampoline). And although the competition is taking place across the pond this time, there are plenty of ways to bring the action home for your kids:
Pin trading, which started at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, was originally a way to show friendship between competing nations. This year, there are more than 30 official Olympic pins that honor the 2012 Summer Games’ sports and setting. Pins are decorated with images representing British culture, featured sports, and USA insignia. Some also include the Games’ mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville, such as the one at right ($8.95; teamusashop.com). Kids can trade the pins with their friends or the whole family can get in on collecting them. You could host a viewing party to trade pins with friends or keep them as memorabilia.
Read about and root for a medal contender who hails from NYC. In Speed to Glory, Bronx-raised swimming sensation Cullen Jones shares his story (as told to author Natalie Davis Miller) of growing up in NYC and his journey to becoming one of the most competitive Olympic swimmers on the block. Jones’ inspiring tale begins at age 5, when he almost drowned. Through faith, courage, and hard work, Jones overcame his fear and went on to win gold medals for swimming and set world records in the water. Jones will compete in several events at the 2012 Games. The book is available from (ZonderKidz Biography, $6.99; available from major booksellers and at amazon.com).
For younger kiddos who aren’t quite ready to tackle a biography, get them in the spirit with one of the Olympic-themed books suggested by Start with a Book, a site that encourages exploration, conversation, and real-word learning through reading.
The controversial 1936 Olympics, held in Berlin, Germany, set the stage for cultural tension and racism. In the new DVD American Experience: Jesse Owens, PBS explores one athlete who stood up against the odds and became an Olympic legend in the face of adversity. The hour-long film (which is not rated, but the PBS seal of approval means it’s kid-friendly) covers everything from Owens’ early career to his struggle to overcome racism in the U.S. when he returned from the Games ($19.99; shoppbs.org or amazon.com).
Math just got the Olympic treatment! With Team Umizoomi: Umigames, a 96-minute DVD from Paramount and Nickelodeon, preschoolers learn skills including counting and measurement through games, adventure missions, and sports inspired by the Summer Olympics ($14.99; nickshop.com or amazon.com).
Also see, on NYMetroParents.com: