10 Olympics Inspired Kids Games

Travel has always been my number one recommendation to families hoping to raise kids who are empathetic and kind. Nothing in my life has compared to the gifts that being completely vulnerable in a new-to-me place can bring. Now, when travel (and travel costs) can be more difficult for many, finding ways to bring the world home may be the next best thing. This list of Olympics inspired kids game are international in nature and offer a chance to have fun while learning about the world.

Kids Games are the Ultimate Ice Breaker

Whenever I’d take my kids to new places, it never failed to amaze me how quickly they found new friends. Kids don’t care about language barriers, skin colour or anything else, unless they are taught to. And so, my kids consistently left each playground encounter with more friends to keep in touch with.

And as a bonus, we parents often bonded too!

two men olympic games stadium beijing games

Ish and a stranger that became a friend in front of the Olympic stadium in Beijing.

Often there was another bonus, a new game that we’d learned and that we could then bring with us to our next destination.

National Geographic – 10 Winter Olympics Inspired Kids Games

In my latest for National Geographic Family, we highlight ten international Olympics inspried kids games from around the world that show kids how the world plays. Best of all, they’ll quickly realize that so many of these games are ones that they already know and love, and need only a simple tweak . And that – the fact that globally, we are so much more alike than different – is the kind of message I can stand firmly behind.

With the Winter Olympics in Beijing well underway, there’s even more reasons to get excited about international games.  For my latest in National Geographic, I wanted a list of Olympic inspired kids games that could be played at home. Over the years conversations with athletes and activists like Clara Hughes have only increased my appreciation for Olympians.  Why not help our kids be Olympians in their own right? :)

This list goes further than the Olympic games, though. It showcases the cultural connections we all share.

If you get a chance to try these out, let me know!

National Geographic Family story by Heather Greenwood Davis about cold weather olympics inspired games. Kids play in South Korea

Read my entire story by visiting National Geographic Family.

10 cold weather games you can play at home

The research for this piece was exhaustive! In the end we landed on ten games that offer a fantastic mix of options for kids no matter where they live including:

Sliding game (Canada)

In this traditional Indigenous game, Cree women living in what is now Canada would carve holes in a slanted piece of ice, label each with a different point value, then use their fingers to flick pieces of buffalo horn into each hole. The game—a cross between pool, pinball, and marbles—can be recreated the idea by scooping out holes in snow, agreeing on point values, then using small rocks or beanbags to score their points.

Stiv heks (Norway)

This twist on freeze tag adds a few rules. Translated to “stiff witch,” the game designates one child as the “witch,” who must freeze the other players by tagging them. Players only becomes unfrozen when another child crawls through their legs. The witch wins once all the kids are “frozen.”

Paengi chigi (South Korea)

This folk game, which loosely translates to “spinning top,” is like the original Beyblades—on ice. A long string is attached to a stick on one end and a wooden top on the other. Kids place the top on a patch of ice, then whip the stick to keep the top spinning as long as possible.

Work with your kids to craft their own spinning top, or simply provide each child with an item that will rotate on the ice (like a coin or lip balm tube) and count the spins. The top that spins the longest wins.

Kot i mysz (Poland)

This game, which translates to “cat and mouse,” will get heart rates pumping! Here, a “cat” is on the outside of a circle of kids holding hands, and a “mouse” is on the inside. The goal of the game is for the mouse to get out of the circle without being caught by the cat.

The ring of children can raise and lower their arms to help the mouse escape and keep the cat outside. If the mouse is caught, it becomes the new cat. Then the original cat joins the circle and a new child becomes the mouse. Played on playgrounds across Eastern Europe, this game is often accompanied by a nursery rhyme song about, well, a cat and a mouse. If the group is large, two cats and two mice can play at once.

Ready for more? Hop over to National Geographic Family to read the full article! If you get a chance to try these out, let me know!

And if you’re looking for more games for your kids to try, here are more games you can play from home.


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