The 2012 Summer Olympics begin today!  The games will run from Friday, July 27 through Sunday, August 12.

The Olympics offer a great opportunity to explore other countries, learn about Olympic history and cheer on your favorite athletes as the US goes for the gold!

Here are some ideas for how to incorporate some fun learning activities into your Olympic viewing:

  • Watch the parade of countries in the opening ceremonies and choose a country your child has never heard of.  Locate it on a map, find out what language is spoken and what kind of food is popular.  In addition, ask your child to draw a picture of the country’s flag.
  • Calculate the difference between the first and second place winners in swimming events.
  • Keep track of the number of medals the United States wins.  Calculate the percentages of each – bronze, silver and gold – and draw a pie chart with each type of medal represented.
  • Watch the long jump competition and use a tape measure to see how long the gold medal winner jumped.  Then measure your pet (or other household item) and see how many pets it would take to reach that measurement.
  • Choose an athlete to follow and write a biography of him or her.  Explore things like:  Where did he grow up? When did she start competing?  How many Olympics has he been in?  How many medals have she won?
  • Prepare a weather chart for London each day of the games.  Calculate the difference between Celsius and Fahrenheit, compare the temperatures between Arizona and London, compare average rainfall and number of sunny days each year.
These are just a few examples.  What creative ideas can you and your children come up with to add to this list?  Please add your ideas of other learning activities centered around the Olympics in the comments below.