One night, after watching the show “The Amazing Race”, my youngest son asked me if I could put together an Amazing Race for them – oh, and could I have it done by the following afternoon. After thinking about the long list of chores I had scheduled for that Saturday, I decided yes, I would do it. It sounded much more fun than doing laundry. So, I started sketching it out in a notebook. To make it look like the show, there would have to be tasks, and challenges, and countries to visit. I modified the idea a bit by taking out the competitive aspect and instead I would have them work together as a team. As I do with any of these theme activities, I first start off with taking a trip down to the basement and the garage and I collect any toys or objects that I think I can use with my theme. I brought them all up to my room and laid them out with the notes I had put together in order to string together a list of tasks that would take them from the beginning to the end of “the race”. I then worked on my script as the host and finally, walked around the house and the yard, setting up all the outlined activities.
When I was ready, I called the kids down to the living room. They were very excited. The first activity was for them to use the dining room chairs, set them up to look like seats in a plane, and then imagine that they were flying off to China – for the first leg of the race. Once in “China”, their first task was to collect parts of a house that were strewn all over the backyard, and work together to assemble a house for the scarecrow man. I used parts of a snap-together play house that we used when they were little. I scattered the pieces around the yard. It was fun to hear them discuss how the pieces needed to fit together to make the house.
After doing a few activities, they would have to return to “the plane” and fly to another country to continue the race. The activities included having to score three soccer (or “football”) goals a piece in Germany against the country’s most famous soccer goalie (played by their dad), build a model race car out of snap-on toy car parts in Italy, and assemble a tower of paper cups on top of a manual scooter and push it down the hall without the tower falling. And of course, one of the activities had to be to learn a local dance. So, I had them “fly” to South Korea to learn”Gangnam Style”. I found an instructional video on YouTube that they watched to learn the dance and then I had them do the dance to the actual video. It was quite entertaining!
In the t.v. show, they also include tasks that the competitors don’t like doing as much, so I included a task where they had to take a basket of clean clothes and sort and fold them. This was an added bonus because it enabled me to take something off my to-do list and it got them to help with a chore they usually don’t like doing but within this context had fun. I also took advantage of the fact that the show always has the players do a challenge where they taste local cuisine – whether they like it or not. It’s always a battle trying to get my kids to try new food – but they jumped at the chance to try “Deviled Ham” and “Chunky Chicken”. They discovered they liked it so much, they even wanted it later for lunch. Bonus!
They loved their “trip” to Denmark, where LEGOs were invented. There they were presented with a creativity challenge. They were given a box of LEGOs and instructions to work together to design “a pond” out of the LEGOs. They did a great job, even including a frog, a duck and flowers along the shore.
The “Race” was a big success. It had them running around, working together, problem-solving, being creative, trying new things, doing chores without knowing it, and they had a great time doing it all. I had a lot fun putting it together. I’m glad my son thought of it, but maybe a little more notice next time, please.