Today marks the start of the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We can’t all visit the sun and sand to see the games in person, but you can watch and enjoy from home. Even better, you can use the competition to create fun opportunities for learning at home.

Here are a few ideas to get your kids started:

  1. Pick your favorite sport and learn more about it. Where and why did it originate? Where is it popular and why? What kinds of factors play a role in the athletes’ success?
  2. There’s no denying that it’s summer in Arizona, but it’s winter in Rio. Look at a map and discuss how geography impacts weather, and why even winter in Rio is relatively warm. How does their weather compare to your town?
  3. Track the number of medals captured by the U.S. and graph the results. Create pie charts, bar graphs and even compare the results to other countries.
  4. Olympic athletes must maintain the highest levels of fitness to succeed. Talk about nutrition and the importance diet plays in keeping the body healthy and active. Research how athletes’ – especially endurance athletes such as triathletes – diets differ from your own and why.
  5. Basketball players use physics and geometry in every shot. Watch a game and explore the angles of shots, how players anticipate the ricochet off the backboard and the force and direction used in a successful bounce pass.
  6. Many Olympic events are won and lost in a fraction of a second. Calculate the difference between the first and second place finishes. What about first and last?
  7. After watching an event, research the home countries of the winning athletes. Find out where the countries are located, what languages are spoken there and what sort of foods citizens eat.

What sport or competitor is your family most interested in? Are there other activities that you can think of the make this year’s games an educational or inspiring experience?