Did you know that hot air ballooning used to be an Olympic sport? Or that a lit Olympic flame has scaled Mount Everest and travelled underwater? It's even been into space!

Friday 26th July sees the start of the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, France. It's an exciting event and a wonderful opportunity for kids to learn more about other nations and to be inspired by the world's greatest athletes.

In this post, we've got lots of ideas for ways you can get your kids involved in the spirit of the games, from fun crafts to tasty celebrations of global flavours.

1. Make your own flags for the Opening Ceremony: The Olympic Opening Ceremony is an explosion of music, light and colour that starts the two week game period off with a bang. It's the host nation's chance to show off their finest talents and our chance to meet all of the participating nations for the first time.

You can get kids involved in the ceremony by making your own flag to wave along as the countries are announced. You could print off a blank template and colour in a real nation's flag, or you could even design your own new one.

Once the ceremony's finished, kids can hang the flags in their bedrooms throughout the course of the games. You could also make a paper chain of the Olympic rings, the official symbol of the games. The interlocking rings are coloured black, green, red, yellow and blue, and represent the five inhabited continents of the world joining together.

2. Cook up an Olympic feast: The Olympics is about more than sport; it's also about celebrating the cultures of all of the nations that take part. A great way to explore this with kids is to sample a few dishes from around the world. You could pick one country and have a dinner based on that nation, whether it's pasta from Italy, paella from Spain, or a curry made with Indian spices. Even better, why not celebrate a few different nations throughout the course of the two weeks. How about a Canadian breakfast of pancakes or a Jamaican dinner of jerk chicken, rice and peas?

3. Hold your own games: What better way to get your kids involved than by holding your own mini version of the games. Try making your own shot putt out of tin foil or organising a game of balloon tennis or volleyball (it's best to move breakables out of the way first!).

You don't have to stick to the traditional sports either. Although we wouldn't recommend hot air ballooning, you could see who can make a paper aeroplane that flies the furthest, or who can build the highest tower out of playing cards.

4. Make your own gold medals: At the Olympics, gold medals (although they're actually now made primarily from silver with a gold plating) are given to the athletes who come first in an event. However, you could shake this up at home by making your own medals and using them to recognise unsung achievements. Does someone deserve gold for always taking the bin out, trying their best at homework, or always putting their toys away? We're sure Mum and Dad definitely deserve a medal, too!

5. Get everyone involved in a quiz: The first Olympics were held in Greece well over 1000 years ago and there have been a lot of exciting events in its history. Why not test everyone's knowledge of the nations competing by organising a friendly quiz for your kids and their friends.

The Paralympic Games begin on Wednesday 28th August, and is another great opportunity to encourage kids to appreciate difference. The games last until Sunday 8th September and will include 22 individual sporting events.

The 2024 Summer Olympics are a fantastic way to learn about a mixture of nations and cultures as a family. It's not just about sporting excellence; the Olympics is also a brilliant opportunity to inspire kids with a passion for understanding the world around them