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Invite your guests to join you for an afternoon of athletics on a lazy summer day. Serve healthy snacks and beverages, and plenty of water. Encourage them to dress for play – come in a tracksuit, wear sweatbands and sneakers.
Make your yard festive and put your guests in the Olympic spirit by creating several flag garlands to swag around the yard. To start, reference the Olympic Official Website to find out which countries are competing. To get detailed photos of their flags, visit the World Flag Database.
Gather several sheets of colored cardstock, paper glue, scissors, circle and star punches, and a paper trimmer.
For each flag, cut a piece of cardstock measuring four inches by eleven inches. Fold the cardstock in half (the long way) and crease. Cut stripes or bands, punch circles or stars to decorate your flags. Once you’ve made all of your flags, cut a length of bakers twine and hang the creased end of each flag over the twine. Stick a piece of double sided tape between the two layers of the flag to secure.
Once the guests arrive, divide them up into teams - each team will represent a different country. To help keep track of all the teams, make flag lanyards for each member. Follow the steps and links above but reduce the size and make tiny flags to slip inside a plastic badge holder and attach to a lanyard.
There are all sorts of games from the Olympics that can be adapted for backyard play – like ping-pong, volleyball, and many track and field events, swimming and diving if you happen to have a pool. You can also have a torch relay race! Set your course around the yard or block. Instead of passing a baton, pass a torch.
To create your torch, wrap a styrofoam cone in gold or glittered paper. Secure the paper to the cone using a hot glue gun.
For the “flame”, cut two strips of crepe paper (one orange, one red) measuring four inches high and twenty-four inches long. Cut “V” notches down the length of each strip using a pair of pinking shears. Roll the strips together and tightly wrap the flat end of the roll with a rubber band. Carefully bore out a small hole out of the top of the styrofoam torch, drop in a little hot glue, and place the secured end of the flame inside. Once it’s had a chance to cool, fold open the flame like a flower.
Another game you can try is the Olympic Ring Toss. It is a simple game to make, and it’s fun for both kids and adults to play. Take six empty bottles and wrap them with a band of cardstock. Tape a “V” of striped washi tape to create the ribbon, and punch a circle from gold foil paper to create the medal.
For the rings, take six small embroidery hoops, and remove the inner ring. Paint each inner ring to match the colors of the Olympic logo using acrylic paint.
To play the game, each player takes a turn tossing the five rings. The player who lands the most rings around the bottlenecks is the winner.
Of course, the winners of each competition must be rewarded with medals! To make the medals, use an XXXL Circle Punch to cut out your medal form gold, silver, or bronze metallic paper. Add a “2012” using a rubber stamp and ink, a marker, or press-on letters.
Punch out a dove and glue it to the medal. Finally, take 5 hole-reinforcement stickers and place them on the medal, arranged like the Olympic logo. Be sure to make enough medals for the winners of all the events.
Cut a length of wide, striped ribbon and join the ends using your hot glue gun. Next, use hot glue to attach the medal to where the ribbon ends join.
In ancient Greece, laurel crowns were presented to the Olympic victors. This paper version would be perfect to crown the big winners of your Backyard Olympics.
Use your paper trimmer to cut two strips of green cardstock measuring 1.5 inches by 12 inches. Overlap the ends and staple together to create one long strip.
Use your XL Circle Punch to punch out your “laurel leaves” from two 12 x 12 sheets of textured or two-toned green cardstock.
Fold each circle in half, and make a crease in the bottom half of each circle. One by one, staple the creased end of leaves to the strip, working your way towards the end. When the strip is completely covered with leaves, join the ends together with a couple of staples.
Cut two more 1.5 x 12 inch strips from green card stock and glue them inside to line the crown and cover the staples.
Wrap up your afternoon with an awards ceremony. Pass out your medals and laurel crowns to the victors. Count up the number of medals won for each team, and announce which country was the big winner in your Back Yard Olympics!