The Olympics are almost here, which at our house means a party with all sorts of thematic fun. Every two years, our family takes advantage of the pomp and circumstance that invites the whole world to pay attention. The Olympics are a great opportunity to learn about other countries, support your country, think about global issues, learn about (and even try) different sports, and have a ton of fun.

The Basics

This year, the Games will be held in Pyeongchang County, South Korea, from February 9th through 25th. Ninety two countries are expected to compete for 102 gold medals. North and South Koreans will march together in the Opening Ceremonies under a single flag, despite the tension between the two countries. Russia will not be at the ceremonies because they were kicked out for doping violations. Any athlete from Russia who could prove he or she followed the regulations will march under a separate flag as an “Athlete from Russia,” with the Olympic anthem playing if he or she wins gold.

You can learn more about the Olympic Games, follow the torch, watch videos, and look up schedules at the official website Pyeongchang2018.com.

The Sports

The events fall into three major categories: Snow Sports like skiing and snowboarding, Ice Sports like figure skating, hockey, and speed skating, and Sliding Sports like the bobsleigh and the luge. In order to really put ourselves in the athletes’ shoes (or skates), my children love to try out the different sports.

The Sliding Sports are easy to try if you have access to a park with a slide. Grab a piece of cardboard or even a towel, jump on, and slide down face first (skeleton), on your back (luge), or with a group of friends (bobsleigh).

Anyone who has ever slid around a kitchen floor in socks has tried ice skating; better still, take your kids to your local skating rink. Curling remains a mystery to many observers, however. Watch this video and then you can try it out with a Bocci Ball set, or freeze a bulls-eye into ice on a cookie sheet and slide pennies across the ice to see who can get closet to the mark!

We love to reenact ski jumps by leaping off swings and seeing who can fly the furthest (don’t forget to strike a pose when you land!). If you’d rather do it at home, try rolling marbles down different sloped surfaces to get the highest or longest jump.

The Culture

The easiest place to start exploring a culture is the food. During the Olympics, why not enjoy some Korean barbeque, prepare Japchae, a kid-friendly noodle dish, or whip up Dragon’s Beard for dessert?

Learn some Korean phrases like “How are you?” or “Good luck “in Korean:

행운을 빕니다 (good luck)

Try visiting an Asian market to explore the Korean fare,

or listen to some K-Pop, already popular in the U.S.

If you want more information about creating deeper meaning and quality conversation around the Games, check out Sochi ’14: Involving Your Kids In World Events.

How do you plan to enjoy the Olympics?