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Backyard Winter Olympics

Creating your own Winter Olympics

When you think of activities to do during the winter months in Canada, you may think of the usual sledding, ice skating, building a snowman, or dog sledding. But not everyone has access to these activities in their backyards, nor do they possess the skills to make them happen – aside from building a snowman. But how about creating your own Winter Olympics in the backyard or local park?

This can be especially fun if you have a group of neighbourhood kids around the same age, or a gaggle of cousins nearly. It can be planned out over several days or completed in one day. Some of the fun can begin by creating an Olympic committee a couple of weeks ahead of the games. This would include all the participants. Kids are in control of naming the event, designing a mascot, deciding on the challenges, and inviting participants/spectators. To make it even more special, the invites could be made in the form of a frozen sun-catcher .

 Keeping active outdoors during winter months is especially important to everyone’s health. Maybe once the competitions are decided upon, kids can start “training” a week or so in advance of the games. But since most of the games require snow, it might be wise to practice in an area other than the competition grounds. Every competition needs “medals” for the winners. These can also be constructed by the kids from natural items found in your area. Or create bird feeder ornamentsto hang around their necks that they can in return hang from a tree in their backyards.

Sample Competitions

The number of competitions you have in your backyard Olympics depends on you. Will the Olympics be a single day event or held over several days? Whichever you choose, here are some ideas for activities. The kids may have some ideas to add as well.

Sled Pulling Contest

If you have four or eight participants, you can race two at a time through process of elimination. Otherwise, you can have individuals go and time each run. Maybe do best of two runs. Having the same sled and weights would be best. For the elimination round, use two sleds. For timed runs, one would suffice. Use a sandbag, salt bag, or something similar as weight for the sleds. This would be safer than using other children.

Snowball Throwing

Mark some lines in the snow using water with a few drops of food colouring and a spray bottle. For example, one line at five feet, one at ten, one at fifteen. Have a non-competitor make a bunch of snowballs - enough to have three per competitor. Having two scorekeepers may make it easier to settle on distance. Best of three throws is their score. This may create a need for a tie breaker where the users would throw three more snowballs each.

Biggest Snowball

Set a timer for 3 minutes and see who can make the largest snowball. You could have winners for densest, measured by weight, or size, measured by the circumference. Most

Snowballs

Create an example of snowball size, and have the competitors see who can make the most snowballs of that size in 10 minutes. This might be good to do before the snowball throwing competition.

Snowball Stacks

Reuse the snowballs used earlier or make some more in a uniform size. See who can stack the tallest snowball stack one on top of each other without falling.

Given these examples the kids may come up with some additional competitions over multiple days. Creating a backyard Olympics teaches teamwork, provides a creative outlet, and supplies plenty of exercise during the months that tempt us to stay inside. At the end of each day, have the traditional medal ceremony using the homemade medals and celebrate around a campfire, if possible, with some hot cocoa. If you made birdseed ornaments, have the kids hang them in trees around the yard. Who knows, this may become a neighbourhood tradition that provides stories for years to come.

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