Go for the Gold, Auntie!
Written By Savvy Auntie Staff Writers
By Lauren Rogoff
The Olympics are a special and exciting time, a chance every few years to watch incredible athletes perform with passion and represent their countries. You might remember, Auntie, the wonder of the Olympics when you were a child, when athletes in sports you might otherwise never have watched became your heroes. I still vividly remember holding my breath, watching the glory of Mary Lou Retton with my whole family. Help make the Olympics an especially unforgettable event for your nieces and nephews by following our tips below!
The Olympics is a visual spectacle, and watching in groups can make it even more fun! If your nieces and nephews live nearby, have a viewing party. Record events on various channels so that you can flip to the sports that your nieces and nephews are most excited about. Bake cookies or a cake, and have your nieces and nephews decorate with flags, Olympic rings, and medals. Make popcorn, and put it in “Olympic torches.” Make guesses before races in various events about the winning teams, and whoever has made the best guesses at the end of the night can get a prize. For nieces, Olympic-themed nail polish – including decals and nail polish pens, fitting little niece-sized fingers that can be purchased in most drug stores – makes for great prizes! If you live far away from your niece or nephew, have a long-distance party – talk on the phone, or Skype, while you watch and cheer together.
Use the Olympics as a jumping-off point to encourage your nieces and nephews to get active. If they already have a sport they’re passionate about, encourage them by finding local places to play and teams to join and by helping them practice (even if this just means jumping jacks or kicking around a ball – every little bit will be fun and will help them develop as athletes). If a particular sport is new and fascinating to them (think: synchronized diving or trampoline), find places they can get started in their community. You might be the auntie of a future Olympian!
Help create a real-life mini-Olympics to get your nieces and nephews in on the action! Depending on what they like best, you can accomplish this in a lot of ways. You can, for example, have a basketball or soccer shootout, and assign each round of five shots to a different country. Record these “scores,” and have an “elimination tournament” without even having to field a team! Two nieces and nephews can also compete like this against each other in sports like basketball and soccer but also in track, tennis, cycling, swimming – the sky is the limit! As a kid, I used to play scorekeeper when my brother juggled a soccer ball in this type of “international Olympic tournament” and always had a wonderful time. As you can do, I would cheer when he was juggling for countries I wanted to win. It may sound a little silly, but this will be a good time!
Even if your nieces or nephews have no particular desire to be Olympians themselves, the Olympics are a perfect way to cultivate patriotism, as well as to help educate nieces and nephews. In addition to cheering on the American athletes alongside your niece or nephew, help him or her look up the amazing athletes that have shined in past games and the bios of inspiring current athletes, whose names they will hear referenced by the commentators. For example, when the medal-winning American women’s gymnastics team talked about the first Olympics they remember watching as kids, they all had vivid memories of inspiring past Olympic moments. Many of these more recent clips are online – help nieces and nephews find them!
The Olympics are also a great opportunity to learn about different countries around the world. Assist your nieces and nephews, as they explore the history and culture of various nations. For example, when an athlete from Palau is running, find it on the globe, and look up some fun facts. Or when an event they like is taking place in a historical venue, check out its history. If you’ve got family from Romania, take a look at their Olympic tradition and the country’s culture. This is a sneakily entertaining way to help your nieces and nephews learn new things over their summer vacation.
Published: August 7, 2012