As the eyes of the world turn to Rio de Janeiro, the Olympics and Paralympics provide a fantastic opportunity for holiday clubs around the globe to engage in some lively themed activities…
Why not have your own opening ceremony? Children could dress up and role-play a section of this year’s actual ceremony (you could watch clips together), or celebrate with their own style of street festival featuring music and dancing, and perhaps even a marching jamboree complete with instruments and whistles.
The Olympic flame is passed in relay from one bearer to another until the lighting of a cauldron at the opening ceremony to represent peace, unity and friendship – admirable ideals to promote to children.
Children can make a torch by drawing the shape on to two pieces of stiff card and cutting it out. Next, make a single flame shaped cardboard template. Children can use this to draw and cut out flames from red, orange and yellow tissue paper and cellophane. Gather the flames together, secure the bottoms with an elastic band and sandwich between the top of the torch halves. Stick together with masking tape and paint. (This year’s torch is white). Now designate one end of the playground as the stadium and have children stand at intervals from a start line at the opposite end. Children can each run a leg of the relay, holding the torch and passing it between them. Ask children to say something friendly to one another as they make their handover.
The Olympic Rings are symbolic of the unity of the competing five continents and the athletes of the world. Children can make their own by winding strips of coloured crepe paper around hula-hoops, or by painting cardboard cut-out rings. Display by suspending from the ceiling or leaning against a wall.
Some children may be keen to try real Olympic events – many track and field events can be easily replicated as appropriate for your age group. While it’s great to provide opportunities to develop skills in real sports, it’s good to plan events in consultation with children to ensure broad appeal.
Offer plenty of team events alongside individual ones, and non-competitive pursuits alongside those that end with the honour of winning a gold, silver or bronze medal – some ‘training sessions’ just for fun can work well. You can also make up your own additional criteria for winning medals, such as good sportsmanship. Additional novelty events can also prove popular, such as blow football played with straws and ping pong balls, or paper aeroplane throwing.
You might decide to split children up into countries (teams), with children competing for their country even in individual events, so that successes are shared. You can attach an adult to each group to help children find out about their country over the course of the Games. Each team can then plan an activity to celebrate an aspect of their designated country with the whole group – this could be through the sharing of a game, music or food perhaps.
An award ceremony makes a great end to the theme. Steps can be used as a medal rostrum, and medals themselves can be made easily from cardboard discs covered in shiny paper with ribbon attached. Children can make a flag to raise each time their country wins a medal (visit www.flags.net for reference) and their national anthem can also be played (visit www.nationalanthems.info for downloads). This doubles as a fantastic photo or video opportunity.
After the excitement of receiving medals, children will be in great spirits – just in time for a closing ceremony!