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Teaching your children about the Olympics

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Even in this writer’s hometown of Plymouth, Indiana, the Olympics feeling is strong, especially with Plymouth High School graduate, 27-year-old Morgan Uceny, who is currently in London with the hopes of becoming the first American to win an Olympic medal in the 1,500 meters.

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Yet, what do the Olympics mean? Where did they come from?

If your children ask this question, you might find it easy to provide a simple answer, “They started a long, long time ago in Greece where big, strong men threw big, sharp swords and other stuff.” However, if your children are like the children belonging to this writer, there never is one simple answer.

Then what do you tell them?

Maybe start telling them about the first Olympics. The first Olympic Games can be traced all the way back to 776 B.C. Played on the plains of the Village of Olympia, Greece, the games were played for their gods. Although dedicated to gods, like Zeus, they were more of a secular cult, resulting in the ban of the Olympics in 393 A.D.

What is Olympia?

Olympia was a site that was set as a sanctuary for the Greek Gods. There, a 12-meter high statue of Zeus sits that is made of ivory and gold. In fact, this is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

What is the meaning of the five rings?

The five rings that interlock represent the five major continents – Africa, America, Asia, Australia and Europe. The interlocking is the meaning of the athletes who come together from these five continents to play against one another in the games.

Is there a belief behind the Olympic Games?

There is. It is a creed and it says, “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

Why do they light a flame?

The flame represents the process the ancient Greeks took to used a flame that was lit by the rays of the sun at Olympiad.

What is Olympiad?

“Olympiad” is the four years that begins the games until the next games play.

Hopefully this will provide a little insight on how to teach your children some more about the Olympics, instead of that they are sports that interfere with Phineas and Ferb or iCarly. Now that they are a little more educated, hopefully your children will find it somewhat entertaining and inspiring to watch some of the best athletes in the world compete in the games they once knew nothing about.