Harness your family's Olympic fever with these fun backyard activities inspired by sports at the Summer Games.

By Ellen Sturm Niz

Are your kids pumped for the Summer Olympics? Take advantage of all that energy and bring a little bit of Rio to your backyard with these fun games.

The Curvy Wet Balance Beam

Lay the garden hose in the grass in any creative, curvy shapes and patterns you want and see if kids can walk on the "curvy balance beam" without falling off, suggests Randy McCoy, curriculum director at The Little Gym. Increase the challenge by trying it with your eyes closed, he says, or with a sprinkler attached at the far end of the hose. "With the water turned on, the hose will be much more firm and more difficult to balance on—and the closer you get to the sprinkler, the wetter you'll get," McCoy says. Next, make a totally new pattern with the hose and try again!

Beach Blanket Volleyball

No volleyball net? No problem! In this version, McCoy suggests using two beach towels and a beach ball. Pair off kids into sets of two, and have each pair hold a towel spread out with one child on each end. Standing about 4 feet apart, have the kids try to "volley" the beach ball from pair to pair only using the center of their beach towel to bump it back and forth. "Have the pairs increase their distance as they gain confidence volleying the ball with their beach towel," McCoy says.

Laundry Basketball Relay

Challenge kids to move a beach ball from one end of the yard to the other without using their hands in this basketball-inspired activity from The Little Gym. Have a laundry basket (or something similar) as the "hoop" at each end of the yard and station one or more kids at each basket, McCoy says. "The first kid picks up a beach ball using two swim noodles—instead of hands!—and runs with the ball across the yard to place it into a laundry basket without dropping it," he says. "The kid on that side of the yard does the same thing on the way back." You can also try this partner variation: With each partner holding one swim noodle, work together to pick up the ball and carry it across the yard without dropping it!

Hoosier Homemade

Pool Noodle Javelin Toss

Start your own track and field event with a safety-conscious javelin competition. Use pool noodles as the javelins and have kids throw them through various hoops to score points. Shape other pool noodles into circles (a la Hoosier Homemade) for the targets, or use hula hoops or large embroidery hoops. Making the targets different sizes increases the challenge.

Soft Hurdles

Turn your backyard into a hurdles course that won't cause any injury if runners don't make the mark. Prop pool noodles on some overturned cardboard boxes that measure in at a height your little ones can leap over, suggests Amy at Let's Explore. Got super tiny tots? Just lay some rolled-up beach towels on the grass for them to hop over.

Arrow Challenge

Using a toy bow and foam arrows, have kids work through a series of archery challenges just like the Olympians. Sophie at Sophie's World had her athletes knock down cans, hit a target, and shoot through hoops, awarding points for each achievement.

Ribbon Dancing

Make a DIY ribbon wand with a dowel rod and some colorful ribbons, with these instructions from Sun Hats & Wellie Boots, and then challenge children to dance, twirl, and swirl in their own rhythmic gymnastics routine. Help them explore what movements create interesting shapes and patterns with the ribbons and how they can do them to the beat of their favorite songs.

The Craft Patch

Tree Targets

Inspired by any sport that requires aim—tennis, badminton, golf, and more—kids can work on the skill in this activity created by Jennifer at The Craft Patch. Hang four (or more!) paper plates from a tree branch as targets and have kids use tennis balls to try to hit them all. If that's too easy, grab some badminton racquets and shuttlecocks or plastic golf clubs and balls and have the kiddos see how that changes the game.

Sidewalk Jump

Head around to the driveway or front sidewalk for this one. Inspired by the long jump, test your kids' jumping and balancing skills in this activity created by Jennifer at The Craft Patch. Draw a series of circles on the pavement with sidewalk chalk and have kids jump from circle to circle without falling "off."

Tricycle Relay

Inspired by the numerous cycling events at the summer games, try this activity created by Jennifer at The Craft Patch with tricycles or bicycles, depending on kids' abilities. Set up some buckets or other obstacles along the driveway or sidewalk and draw a path with sidewalk chalk to show kids how to weave around them and back to the finish line. Have each cyclist complete the course separately, timing them as they go.



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