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Inspired Activities: Backyard Mini Olympics

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Have you shared the excitement of the 2016 Olympics with your kids? Cheering on our Canadian athletes together is undeniably moving – inspiring both pride for our country and an appreciation of athleticism! Grand aspirations aside, transferring the spirit of the Olympics into participating in fun activities is easy and helps to ensure our kids are active and healthy.

To kick off the Olympics in Rio, we did more than sit on the couch and watch – we got moving and had some fun! As a Role Model for Active for Life, I learned that they had already designed some fun activities to create your own Backyard Declathalon – which made it a lot easier for our ADHD family to quickly turn the great idea of hosting a mini-Olympics into reality without much preparation. In fact, very few supplies are called for and can likely be found around the house.

“Our kids are well on their way to becoming active for life”

What you need for your own event:GIF

Grassy area

Ribbon or Rope

Tape measure

Big Tree, Pole, or Wall space


Broomstick or Mop handle

Calculator (Or a math whiz)

Pencil/Paper for keeping score 

You can easily take part as a family or gather together some friends like we did. Our kids, at almost 9 and 11, are involved in numerous sports – many at a competitive level. With that confidence behind them, they are usually keen to participate in a new sport or physical activity. But kids of all ages and abilities had a great time participating!

You can find Active for Life’s full Backyard Decathlon article and suggestions HERE.

Read on to find out how we changed the activities for our group of active kids.


Our Mini Olympics: Modifications to fit our Littles

Smaller Groups and Teams

We had 12 young decathletes that ranged from 6 to 13 years of age. To keep it easy to do with a large number of kids, we divided into two teams. Each team chose a name (country) and were asked to help and cheer their teammates on. I think this was really the best adaptation we made. Our decathletes were encouraged by the team spirit plus it kept the energy high and the day FUN!

We organised our decathletes into smaller groups. Our groups aligned with our number of kids (3 groups of four) and according to age (mostly because we had four 6-year-olds, four 9-year-olds, and four kids aged 10-13.) Organising into smaller groups kept scoring more manageable. We were also able to adjust the event difficulty accordingly. For example, jumping/hurdles were placed higher for bigger kids. Through modelling, decathletes sometimes even learned what skills it took to win by watching each other compete!sports, active, modelling, jump, skills, physical, physical literacy, kids, fit, fitness

Event Schedule

We mixed up the activities to suit our group: To reduce the amount of time and maintain interest by keeping everyone moving, we organised some events into stations and rotated groups through. For a few events, the smaller groups became ‘heats’ so that teammates could encourage each other by cheering or shouting out advice, etc.

Specifically, we organised it this way:

  • 2 events, All w/ cheering teammates: Crabwalk Sprint, Long Jump
  • 3 events, Rotation: Shot put, High Jump-and-Touch, Javelin
  • 1 event, All (to bring energy up again): Log Roll
  • 3 events, Rotation: Pole Vault, Hopping Hurdles, Frisbee Discus Throw
  • 1 final event, All:  Endurance Run dramatic performance

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I loved the varied theatrics of the endurance run and the giggles and repeat performances made this my favourite event!



To determine points, I suggest keeping it simple. You may not want to award points at all. Why not offer a sticker, a stamp, or a tattoo for every event they participate in? Determine whatever will work best for your group – it’s about fun and fitness, remember?

If scoring, you can have each decathlete keep track of their own points on a score card they mark at each event. We found it best to have a group leader or parent keep track of all the points at each event. This way, decathletes were less focused on points and more on fun! We also tallied the team scores so this method made determining the winning team easier as well.

Our crew loves competition so we awarded points but devised a way to keep score that was as easy as it could be! Points allotted were the same as what place each participant came in for each event. For example, first place received 1 point, second place was awarded 2 points and so on. Awarding points this way, the participant in each group with lowest total score becomes the top decathlete in their group.


Ceremonies and Awards

Over healthy snacks, we lined up each group and awarded all our decathletes medals (often found at retailers that carry party supplies). Then we announced the top decathlete in each group – presenting them an Active for Life t-shirt as an additional prize. Finally, we announced the winning team. The raucous cheers, exuberant high fives, and friendly ‘thumbs up’ demonstrated how fun our mini Olympics were for the kids!


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Looking at all these pics, it is easy to see that everyone gained much more than plastic medals, tattoos, or swag at our backyard mini Olympics. Realising the greater importance of the laughter and smiles that ensued while having fun being active with their friends, we didn’t focus on the physical skills they practised or even once use the term ‘physical literacy.’ And it was obvious how happy the moms were that their children got their wiggles out having fun together!

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I think the decathlete profile that says it all was that of our youngest friend. A petite, young six-year-old, she was reluctant to participate in the crabwalk sprint – it looked tough! I loved watching as a teammate stepped in to give her a horsey ride across the finish line to the cheers of all! The support and laughter encouraged this sweet miss to take part in a few more of the events all on her own! She happily received her medal for participating and later, tuckered out from all the fun, fell asleep still proudly wearing it! I wonder if she was dreaming of backyard fun or future Olympic participation…? But then, it doesn’t really matter, does it?

Either way, she and the rest of our kids are well on their way to becoming active for life.



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