Balloon popping and an egg-rolling relay are unlikely to ever be sanctioned as Olympic events, but they will be highlights this month in the Warner Center Children's Corner's Summer Games.
Preschoolers at the nonprofit day-care center in Woodland Hills have caught the Olympic spirit and have chosen the Games as their learning theme for August.
They kicked off their month of lessons with an opening ceremony Thursday, with handmade flags representing their color family group and an Olympic-style procession into the building. They were treated to a pep talk from UCLA track and field athlete Gentry Bradley Jr., who was ranked ninth in the 200-meter race at the 1996 U.S. Olympic trials.
The 90 children cheered and were cheered by teachers and parents as they marched into the center, waving their flags: First came the yellow family, then the purple, the red, the pink and finally the blue.
Center officials said that during August the children will be taught the basics of playing cooperatively as a team in such games as the balloon toss, relay running and the obstacle course.
"The focus of the lesson is teaching children how to take part in games," said Kim Colby, admissions and community relations coordinator. "They'll learn what it means to compete and to play in teams with other participants."
There will be no medal ceremonies, however, because there will be no medals. "Everyone's a winner here," she said.
Bradley, 22, was enthusiastic about their games, asking the children if they thought they could beat him in a race. A number shouted that they could.
"Who thinks they can beat me at swimming?" he asked next, to another chorus of "Yes!"
"Well, I'll let you guys know, I can't swim," he said. "So you all can beat me."
The UCLA senior said he agreed to talk to children because he plans to open a day-care center or preschool when his athletic career is over.