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Let the Games Begin!

With the London 2012 Summer Olympics upon us, everyone is in the Olympic spirit. Encourage your kids to learn more about olympic history, the athletes and the sports on the official London 2012 Education Website, Get Set ( The website offers interactive activities for children of all ages and includes resources such as an image bank of photographs that can be downloaded and used in projects. Parents and children can use the site to follow along with all of the action.

WETA's Reading Rockets website also offers an Olympic themed reading list, activities and recommended websites to learn more about the summer games.

For more fun, consider hosting a backyard olympics. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Have Each Participant Make a Flag to Carry
Perform your own opening ceremony by having each participant make their own flag to carry into your "stadium" or the location of your games.

Pass the Olympic Torch
Have each member of the family line up down the street or even in the driveway to pass the Olympic torch. The final member can light a candle on the dining room table. If your children are too young for candles, pass a paper torch made with a paper towel tube and red and orange colored cellophane. Make sure to display it in a special spot in your house! During the Olympics held in 776 B.C. the Olympic flame was brought from the altar of Prometheus to the altar of Athena at the acropolis by forty children who had to run 2.5 km each. Over time the torch has traveled the path taken by Columbus, traveled underwater through the Great Barrier Reef and has traveled by satellite. The flame will be lit at the Opening Ceremonies.

Make the Olympic Medals
Spray paint cardboard circles with beautiful ribbons attached to be handed out each evening. Make sure you create a special spot for the medals ceremony. It can be three different stairs or step stools of different heights or just a special place. Remember to award the medals from bronze to silver to gold. Rather than the national anthem, plan to play the favorite song of the gold award winner.

And don't forget to photograph the event. If friends have joined you it will be a great way to send a thank you card. Put the photo on the front and have your children thank them for participating.

Plan Your Events
Click here for more ideas for games to play or use these award-winning products as inspiration for your own events.

Kickin' Putt Kickin' Putt
Ages: All Ages
BeginAgain, $30.00

Kickin' Putt is a fun new game for kids to play outside. The set contains two amazing kick-balls that are a cross between a soccer ball and an inflatable golf ball. The balls are heavier then kickballs, which makes them not only good for this game, but also nice for playing ball in smaller yards or urban parks where parents may not want a ball that will "fly" quite as far as a classic kickball. The "goal" is a high quality hard rubber frisbee that players kick the balls towards. In short, parents buying this game will get three quality classic yard toys (two balls and a Frisbee) that can be used any number of ways and will last a long time.

Sack Racing Sack Racing
Ages: 3 & Up
ALEX, $19.99

On your mark, get set, go! Children had tons of fun racing to the finish in these colorful nylon sacks. Sturdy enough to hold the weight of a ten-year old, the woven handles provide support younger children might need. Each sack set comes with two different animals: frog and monkey or rabbit and kangaroo. When the games are over, these sacks can be used to carry toys, beach towels, or a worn out racer to the car.

Speed Stacks Glow in the Dark Stack Pack Speed Stacks Glow in the Dark Stack Pack
Ages: 4 & Up
Play Along, Inc., $29.99

Stacking and unstacking 12 plastic cups in predetermined sequence may not sound like the work of Nobel scientists, but it does take more than meets the eye. Hand-eye coordination, focus and ambidexterity are required. Practice counts, big time. Play alone to improve your personal best, or play against others.

Splash Bombs 8 PC Pool Party Pack Splash Bombs 8 PC Pool Party Pack
Ages: 4 & Up
Prime Time Toys, $14.99

This Splash Bomb set is indeed a "party in a bag" for kids. It comes with four different sponge balls, a football, Frisbee and catch and toss game all packed into a convenient carry along bag. The set is sturdy and well-made and everything fits into a convenient bag that the kids can carry.

Hyper Dash Hyper Dash
Ages: 6 - 12 yrs.
Wild Planet Entertainment, Inc., $19.99

Known as Hyper Dash, this electronic action game for kids aged six and up comes with a "tagger" as well as five "targets". Targets can be arranged in any space (as long as it is not too big), and the hand-held unit calls out a target that the kids have to run to and "tag." Four different levels of play keep the kids running for hours: level one calls out the colors they need to tag, level two throws numbers into the mix, level three adds special commands such as Double Strike, Triple Strike, Reverse, Double Reverse, and the final level features Compu-Strike (math problems that involve addition and subtraction). No two games are ever the same.

Boochie Boochie
Ages: 8 & Up
Gamewright, $34.99

Boochie is a fun new ball game that can be easily played by both parents and kids, indoors and out. In the game, players throw the 12-sided boochie ball, then take turns throwing their smaller bean ball and rings, trying to get as close as possible to the boochie ball. The game comes with a wrist-worn scoring disc complete with iconic Gamewright instructions about how (over your head, between your legs, eyes wide shut) to throw next.

Nerf Curve Pitch Baseball Set Nerf Curve Pitch Baseball Set
Ages: 8 & Up
Hasbro, Inc., $9.99

Nerf's ingenious, scientifically designed Curve Pitch Baseball adds a wonderfully unpredictable element to playing baseball-type backyard and street games. Packaged with the dizzying Nerf baseball is a high quality plastic bat. Any bat would do, though, as it's the ball that is magic. It has a scruffy patch added to one side, and whichever side of that patch the pitcher's grips-top, bottom, left or right-the ball will swoosh in the opposite direction. Hold the ball with the patch inside and the pitch will swerve outside; grip the ball with the patch on top and the pitch will drop off the table. At the very least, this toy is plain backyard fun that'll have the neighborhood kids laughing and little brothers guffawing over those wacky dropping and sliding pitches that dive and dart all over the plate.

Nerf Weather Blitz Flag Football Set Nerf Weather Blitz Flag Football Set
Ages: 8 & Up
Hasbro, Inc., $19.99

Football often happens in bad-weather months. So Nerf decided to create a bad-weather football. Nerf calls it "Weather Blitz Football" and claims it actually plays better in wet weather. The football is junior-sized with an exceptional waterproof texture and raised rubberized "lace". This makes for easy gripping, regardless of the size of the quarterback's hand or the weather conditions. Besides the water-resistant, high-durability, Nerf football, the set includes eight pairs of belt-free, simple-to-clip-on, flag-football flags in two colors, allowing two teams with up to four players each to face off on the line of scrimmage.

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