GO FOR THE GOLD – Activity Ideas for August

You’ll be hard pressed to find a someone who doesn’t enjoy a bit of Olympic programming. Since we are able to celebrate the 2016 Summer Olympics soon (Opening Ceremonies are on August 5), along with host city Rio de Janeiro and the rest of the world, take some time to try out a few extra special activities. After all, the summer version of these games won’t be back until 2020.

MUSIC Add a little pizazz to your usually scheduled exercise programs this month with some Olympic-inspired tunes. Play the Olympic theme song during your exercise classes, as well as fun sports songs like “Eye of the Tiger” (from Rocky) or “Centerfield” (by John Fogerty). Your group will enjoy a break in the usual routine, and you all may be moved to do a few more repetitions.

COGNITIVE Host your own Trivia Olympics, where participants can show their stuff to earn medals, ribbons, or other fabulous prizes. Consider making a day out of it, with each of your featured programs that day being intellectually focused: spelling bee, movie trivia, sports trivia, Pictionary, or even Jenga. Choose a few games that are your community favorites and pepper in a few new games for everyone to try. Award prizes at the end of each event. Don’t forget staff members during your Trivia Olympics as well; work with department heads to host a trivia staff meeting where questions are focused around educational issues like HIPPA, Resident Rights, or trivia about your facility and staff.

FAMILY – For this month’s Family Night event, have some fun celebrating the host city of Rio de Janeiro with a Brazilian party. Consider an afternoon or evening of snacks and drinks that are well known in Rio. You can find a list on the Fodor’s Travel website. Work with your dining department to create five of these dishes to try out with your family. For drinks, consider serving sangria or go the non-alcoholic route with pitchers of ice cold lemonade or fruit punch, complete with big chunks of fruit floating inside. Have a craft station for families to work on an easy project together that will allow them to show their patriotic spirit. Have small wooden dowels available, along with tape or hot glue, different colored streamers or ribbons, and even small bells. Encourage families to glue the ribbons and bells on a dowel to create a wand or pompon for them to wave in support of a country they may be cheering for during the games. Pair your snacks, crafts, and drinks with a viewing of that day’s Olympic coverage, and you have a successful – and multicultural – event for all to enjoy.

FOODFortunately, there are many ways to incorporate Olympic fare into your month. Whether you choose to highlight different ethnic foods throughout your menu, or take a day to celebrate All-American favorites, work with your dining department to determine what would work best for your community. Beyond entrée options, you can also get in the Olympic spirit with a red, white, and blue smoothie social. This event is sure to be a hit, allow residents to express their creativity, and give everyone an extra dose of healthy hydration. Make large pitchers of smoothies and send residents through the colorful “buffet” with an empty cup. Blend ice with colorful ingredients to make a thick and refreshing smoothie concoction. A red smoothie can be made with strawberries or raspberries, a blue version with blueberries or blackberries, and a white version with lemonade. Encourage participants to layer their drinks and top it off with a cherry and blueberry garnish.

SPIRITUAL The Olympics is a wonderful time to learn a bit more about the countries that are competing. In your Bible Study groups, prayer time, or meditation events, bring along a few news articles about countries that your group members may not be familiar with. Read about problems in that area of the world, and then commit the rest of your time to praying (or thinking, meditating, etc.) for those issues.

CRAFTS Rio de Janeiro is known for another celebration beyond the summer games. Carnival is a yearly celebration, similar to Mardi Gras, held before the beginning of season of Lent. Carnival is full of dancing, music, parades, and food. For your craft this month, make percussion instruments and play along to Carnival music. You can make colorful shakers by putting dry beans or rice into plastic Easter eggs. Tape each egg closed and apply paint or jewel stickers to add a little Carnival touch. Or, make your own drums with large oatmeal boxes and electric tape.

SENSORY KIT Use a sports theme for a sensory kit this month, which is sure to be a hit with those who played sports or who love sports. Add photos of famous sports figures such as Muhammed Ali, Jesse Owens, Michael Jordan, or Billie Jean King. Include sports equipment such as a baseball, a track shoe, a wrestling singlet, or swimming goggles plus items such as a trophy, medal, or pennant. Listen to sports music that includes bleacher chants, baseball classics like “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” and the well-known Olympic theme song. To stimulate the taste and smell senses, try including diet-appropriate sports fare such as popcorn or peanuts. (Be aware of the choking hazard with popcorn and peanuts.)

INTERGENERATIONAL Inviting little ones into your community for an afternoon of Water Olympics is sure to be a hit for everyone who attends. Since school is out of session, ask a local preschool or day camp to send over a group or two to spend a few hours interacting with your group members. You can choose to split the kids and adults into teams, or you can just have stations of different water games set up for anyone who is interested. Before the games begin, have the kids and adults move around the outdoor game area to the Olympic theme music, giving high fives to spectators. Then, let the games begin! Try to choose games that are easy for any age, and that don’t get participants too wet. Consider a water balloon ring toss, squirt gun target shootout, wet sponge bucket toss, or other water games of your choosing. Finish up the afternoon by giving medals to all participants and enjoying some snacks – perhaps lemonade and Olympic ring cookies.

GIVING BACK To keep with the sports theme of the Olympics, consider working with your local park district or sports association to sponsor a child’s T-ball or Little League team. Often, sponsors just need to provide t-shirts or other supplies for the team. However, your community can increase the support by attending games, bringing snacks for the players, and inviting players and families to your community for an end-of-season celebration.

CELEBRATION Make each evening of the Olympics a special event so that group members can feel excited to watch the prime time coverage and ceremonies. Get some extra use out of your Independence Day decorations by turning your television room into USA headquarters. Keep a USA-medal-count tally going on a poster board you tack up in a central location, and be sure that you have fun snacks for each night of coverage.



  1. Which famous boxer, known for “floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee,” lit the Olympic torch in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic opening ceremony? Muhammad Ali
  2. The United States has hosted the Summer Olympics four times – name two of the cities. St. Louis (1904), Los Angeles (1932 and 1984), Atlanta (1996)
  3. Name two of the four swimming strokes that are part of the competition in the Olympics. Freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly
  4. What American sweetheart captured the world’s attention by scoring perfect 10s in some of her gymnastics events in 1984? Mary Lou Retton
  5. The faces of several Olympic athletes have been featured on which cereal box? Wheaties
  6. Medals are given to athletes who win first, second, and third place in their events. Which place gets which medal? First place: gold; second place: silver; third place, bronze
  7. What music is played at the conclusion of a medal awards ceremony? The national anthem of the winning athlete’s country
  8. In addition to running races and relays, what other events happen during track and field events? Long jump, pole vault, shot put, discus throw, triple jump, high jump, javelin throw, hammer throw, shot put
  9. The first modern summer Olympics were held in which city in 1896? Athens, Greece
  10. In which year will the next Summer Olympics be held? 2020 (in Tokyo)



“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.” ~ Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games

“Go for the Gold” was written by Haley Burress. Copyright 2016 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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