With my sports crazy little G, we are already starting to get excited about the Olympics. We’ve been talking about the games, and how the Olympics brings together teams from nations all over the world. My husband is originally from the Ukraine, and my brother-in-law has lived all over the world, from London to Dubai, so G is familiar with the concept of different countries, and knows the names of a handful of them. (Well, ok, he’s loosely familiar. He said the other day he doesn’t live in New Jersey because he lives in America – feel free to insert your favorite Jersey joke here).
I think that it will add to the excitement of the games if G recognizes the flags of the competing countries when they are displayed during the events. My husband loves flags, and has been trying to get me to do a flag recognition activity with G for about a year, so this seemed like a good time.
I decided we would create a craft to display several paper flags on popsicle stick flagpoles, which we can remove to use for play. First, we decided on the countries. We picked about 16, with G selecting the ones he thought looked coolest, and me ensuring that he chose countries that were likely to be making an appearance at the medal ceremonies.
Our picks so far (we will likely add some): Italy, Ireland, Great Britain, Ukraine, Japan, South Korea, France, Czech Republic, Australia, China, Greece, Venezuela, Spain, Germany, Russia, and Belgium. He didn’t want the US one because he says that one is already his favorite.
We printed and cut out 2 copies of each country’s flag. G and I both did some of the cutting, although I did trim his a bit, so that each side of the flag would be approximately the same dimensions when we glued them onto our popsicle stick flagpoles.
Then we put glue on the backs of both flags for each country, and glued them together, sandwiching a popsicle stick in between.
For countries whose flags are not symetrical (US, Spain, Australia), one side will look backwards if you do not put the popsicle stick flagpole in the middle. I like the look of the flagpole on the side, so I did it that way anyway.
We left our flags to dry and painted our base. We used the bottom part of a shoe box, and painted it white.
To make the interlocking Olympic rings, I cut a paper towel tube into several sections to create round stamps. We then dipped the stamps into blue, green, black, yellow, and red paint, and placed them on the side of the white base.
I cut little incisions in the box long enough to insert the popsicle stick, and we stuck the flags into the box. We decided to put the flags in scattered randomly over the box, rather than in straight rows.
We then stuck the flags in, and looked at our Olympic flag festival.
We have also been having some fun playing with the flags. For older kids, you can write the country names on the popsicle stick, stick the flag into the base so the writing is hidden, and have them tell you the name of the country for each flag. Then they can pull out the sticks and read the answers. For my little ones (ages 4 1/2 and 1), we just play with the flags. C looks at the patterns and waves them around. G asks which country they are, and asks something about each country. This really helps to connect the flag and the country in his mind. For example, for Spain, he remembers that they are really good at soccer.
We are very excited about the Olympics, and will likely be sharing more crafts and activities in the upcoming weeks. I’d love to hear your ideas for getting excited about the Olympics in the comments!