Break out your American flag and get your USA chants ready. The Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, have finally arrived. With 42 sports, 306 events and 206 countries represented, the Rio 2016 games ignite an excitement that only happens every four years.
From Friday, Aug. 5 through Sunday, Aug. 21, the entire country will be united and rooting for the red, white and blue. Here are some ideas to get your own games going and get your family into the spirit.
#1 Get those rings ready
Nothing says getting in the mood like some festive décor. The historic symbol of the modern Olympics is the five interlocking rings, colored blue, black, red, yellow and green. Stamp your own Olympic rings with either Solo cups or toilet paper rolls dipped in the paint colors. Or if you want to amplify your decor, use hula hoops or large bowls dipped in paint for poster-size rings.
#2 Host an opening ceremony
One of the most eagerly anticipated TV events is always the opening ceremony of the Olympic games. To prepare for the big event, host your own opening ceremony. Start by making torches out of toilet paper rolls painted gold, then glue orange and yellow tissue paper around a flameless tea light and insert into the top of the toilet paper tube. Get your torch relay going before the actual event begins!
#3 Fly the flags
Beyond the beauty of our stars and stripes are all the amazing and colorful flags of each of the 206 countries participating in the Rio games. Do some research about each country’s flag and create a hanging banner of your favorites flags. You can either print them out online or re-create the flags with your own artistry.
#4 Celebrate Brazilian culture
The Olympics provide an ideal opportunity to give your kids a lesson in geography and a chance to explore a new culture. Brazil, and in particular, Rio de Janeiro, are packed with foods, traditions, arts and festivals. Learn some words in Portuguese, try a Brazilian restaurant or cuisine, teach yourself to dance the samba, read about the famed Carnival of Brazil celebration each year, or play their most popular sport, football (otherwise known as American soccer).
#5 Olympic-sized feast
Bring the celebration into your kitchen. You can make festive foods to represent the famed Olympic rings, such as sugar cookies with sprinkles or frosting in the colors. Make your breakfast bagels into rings with some cream cheese and green grapes, blueberries, strawberries, pineapples and blackberries. Or even better, try your hand at a new Brazilian recipe like empanadas, acarajé or churrasco barbecue.
#6 Water archery
Take aim and shoot! Create your own water archery competition with some chalk and either water squirt guns or spray bottles. Draw a bull’s-eye target with chalk on a wall, fence or garage. With tape or chalk, mark different starting lines to shoot. Create a bracket for all participants until it comes down to the final two and an archery winner is declared.
#7 Backyard Olympic games
Nobody will turn down the chance to be the star of his or her own Olympic games. Re-create the excitement and thrill of the games in your own backyard with the neighbors as competing athletes. Simple games like a beanbag toss, croquet, crab-walk relays, hula-hoop contests, balance beam walks, a javelin throw with a pool noodle and water balloon relays can be easily re-created. Divide into teams and let the competition begin!
#8 Baton relay race
Nothing is better than a good relay race around the neighborhood. Make teams with three to four runners on each. Pick a country or color for each team to wear. Each team should select and decorate their own baton. Place markers around the block where runners will pass the baton to their teammates. For a dramatic finish line, use paper streamers to string across for that picture-perfect ending. Finish off the race with ice cream cone torches for all!
#9 Hit the water
The Summer Olympics wouldn’t be what it is without all the water and pool sports. Watch and pick your favorite water competition, whether it is water polo, synchronized swimming, diving, rowing or swimming. Then start perfecting your skills and learning that sport. You may just be a contender for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games!
#10 Ceremonial medal presentation
No Olympics would be complete without the race for the gold, silver and bronze medals. You can craft your own original medals from ribbons and painted circles in each metal color. Or you can go to the edible route for less permanent proof of winning. Golden Oreos with fruit roll-up ribbons are one option, or wrap chocolates in gold and silver foil and tape ribbons around them. Make your own three-tiered podium with stepstools or ladders and break out the American anthem and flag for a customary and moving medal presentation.
No matter your level of competition, everyone will come out as a winner when families get involved. It will leave you counting down and dreaming of all the fun the 2018 Winter Games will bring for your family next!