Countdown to the
Winter Olympic Games
The Winter Olympic Games is a "teachable moment" that comes along only once every four years, so the Education World team has gathered lesson ideas to help you teach to the moment. Included: Lessons to teach history, vocabulary, decimals, sportsmanship, and more!
In just a matter of days, athletes will begin to gather in Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada), for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and Paralympics. There, from February 12th to the 28th, the eyes of the world will be glued as more than 2,500 athletes from more than 80 different nations will compete for gold, silver, and bronze in 86 medal events in 15 Olympic sports.
The educational opportunities presented by the Winter Olympics come along only once every four years. Whether they're athletes or couch potatoes, whether they're rooting for their fellow countrymen and women, for the most-skilled winter athletes, or for the underdogs, savvy and creative teachers are busy developing lessons and activities that will capitalize on their students' interest in the Games.
The Education World team has been busy doing the same. This week, we present a handful of lessons designed to make winners out of your students.
Keep your eyes open for additional lessons -- coming next week!
The question? Where to begin? Why not start with the following complete lesson plans from Education World? Click on any activity headline below to link to a complete teaching resource! Appropriate grade levels for each activity are indicated in parentheses. Then see the bottom of this page for additional lesson ideas.
Winter Olympic History Year By Year
Historic stats about the Winter Olympic Games provide the data. Students create the chart. Teaching master included.
Comparing the Ancient and Modern Olympics: A Venn Diagramming Activity
A Venn diagram helps students compare and contrast today's Olympics with the Olympics of the ancient Greeks. (Grades
Students create a book of biographies profiling famous past Olympic athletes. (Grades 3-8)
Character Education Lesson: Olympics
Students plan and stage a classroom Olympics! (Grades 6-8)
Olympic Trivia Challenge
Students find fascinating facts about the Summer Olympic Games and Olympic history. (Grades 6-12)
A Measure of Greatness
Students participate in a variety of Olympic-type activities involving measurement. (Grades K-5)
Be sure to see more Winter Olympic Games activities in our other article, Let the Games Begin! Let the Learning Begin!.
More Winter Olympic Games Lesson Ideas
The Olympic Games offer a perfect opportunity to teach about world geography and culture. In the opening ceremonies, athletes from many countries will dress in costumes reflecting the cultures of their homelands. The athletes will carry flags of their native countries too. The Olympic Parade of Nations provides a perfect opportunity for students to
--- research and report on countries of the world.
--- draw the flags of countries whose athletes are competing.
--- learn to say hello in different languages.
--- compare and contrast countries according to size and population.
--- calculate the distance between your home and the homes of some of the athletes.
--- color a world map to show the countries whose athletes will be in Torino.
But that's just the beginning! We've got plenty more ideas to follow...
Track the Weather. Use your favorite weather source (or find one here) to keep track of the weather at the Games. You might arrange students into groups and assign each group to track the weather at different parts of the school day. Students can use the easy-to-use Create a Graph tool to illustrate the temperature data they collect in graph form.
Learn the Language. About three quarters of Canadians speak English. But some of the words they use might not be the same ones that many Americans use. Have students use Wikipedia's Canadian English: Vocabulary entry to determine what some of the terms below mean. Or you might share this list, or part of it, with students and ask them to write sentences that include five of the words.
van (used in eastern Canada to refer to the caboose of a train)
reeve (used in some small rural communities to refer to the community leader, ie., the mayor)
My Lord or My Lady (judges of Canada's superior courts)
bachelor (an apartment all in a single room, with a small bathroom attached. e.g., a studio apartment)
public house (a drinking establishment, e.g., a bar; often shorted as "pub")
camp (cabin or cottage)
parkade (a parking garage)
washroom (public bathroom)
gasbar (a filling station or gas station with a central island)
tin (a can, as in tin of tuna)
ABM (a bank machine, usually referred to as an ATM in America)
BFI bin (dumpster)
chesterfield (couch or sofa)
converter (a remote control)
eavestroughs (rain gutters)
garburator (garbage disposal)
hydro (in some parts of Canada, a synonym for electrical service; a "hydro bill" would be an electric bill)
loonie (a Canadian one-dollar coin, its name derived from the use of the common loon on the reverse)
toonie (a two-dollar coin)
pencil crayon (colored pencil)
pogie (unemployment insurance, derived from the use of pogey as a term for a poorhouse)
runners (running shoes)
toque (pronounced toke; a knitted winter hat)
bunny hug (a hooded sweater or hoodie)
dressing gown (a robe worn over pajamas)
chips (French fries)
poutine (a snack of french fries topped with cheese curds and hot gravy)
brown bread (wheat bread)
double-double (a cup of coffee with two creams and two sugars)
Cheezies (cheese puffs)
dainties (fancy cookies or pastries)
How Far Is It? How far is Vancouver from other major cities in North America? Students might use Driving Directions: North America or Bing Maps to learn the number of miles from Vancouver to cities such as
Los Angeles, California
New York City
San Diego, California
Toronto, Ontario (Canada)
Challenge students to create a mileage chart from Vancouver to other cities similar to this North America Mileage Chart. You might assign one city to each student and have that student find the mileage between his/her city and all the other cities.
Sports Talk. Assign each student, or a pair of students, to track each of the 15 winter Olympic Sports. They can learn about the sport, it competitors, how the sport is judged, terminology related to it, and more and keep the class informed during the Games. Good basic sources of information include Vancouver 2010 Olympics (click on any of the 15 sport icons found at the top of the page) and NBC 2010 Olympics: Sports. If students write reports about their sports, they might use the 2010 Olympic pictograms as their report covers. In addition, you might compile reports to create a class book about Olympic sports or a Web site, like this Winter Olympic Sports site created by students in Sleepy Hollow, New York.
Read a Schedule. When are the different Olympic events scheduled to take place? NBC offers an easy-to-read Complete Olympic Schedule grid. You might use a projector to display the grid, or you could photocopy it onto a transparency and project it on a screen. Teach students how to read the grid by asking questions such as On what date does the figure skating competition begin?, On how many days do bobsledding finals take place, or Which competition starts first -- the alpine skiing competition or the freestyle skiing competition?
Tracking the Medals Race. Have each student track the medal results for a different country. Create a chart and update it daily so that in the end you have a chart that looks like this 2006 Final Medal Standings chart.
Math (for young students). Invite students to use the Lillehammer 1994 Winter Olympic Medal Standing Chart to answer the math questions on Math Word Problems: Olympic Medals printable work sheet. (Teachers might let students complete this work sheet while online or they might print out and copy or post the chart for students to use.)
ANSWER KEY: 1. 4 more; 2. 13 medals; 3. 23 medals; 4. South Korea; 5. 4 more; 6. 43 gold medals; 7. 16 bronze medals; 8. Canada; 9. 4 teams; 10. 7 medals.]
Math (for older students). Hand out copies of Medal Math printable work sheet. The Teaching Master provides word problem practice in adding decimals and other math concepts -- all related, of course, to the Winter Olympics.
ANSWER KEY: 1. Syd, Peter, Hans; 2. Shelley, Christie, Annlee; 3. Michela Fijini, 13 seconds.
Geography. Invite students to work in pairs to complete this activity. Provide each student with a copy of a world map on which s/he can write. (Need a printable outline map? Click one of these links: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Students might use CBS Sportsline Winter Olympic History to learn about the sites of Winter Olympic competitions dating back to the first Games in 1924. Challenge students to use atlases, the Internet, and other resources to locate on their maps the sites of all the Winter Games. They can write the year on the map; for example, the year "1924" will appear on the map at the location of Chamonix, France.
OLYMPIC LESSONS CAUGHT ON THE NET
We searched the Net to see what other lesson ideas we might find. The following online lessons include some that relate to previous Olympic Games because creative teachers will be able to adapt those activities to the games at Torino. (Approximate grade levels for many activities appear in parentheses.)
Article by Gary Hopkins
Copyright © 2010 Education World
Originally published 02/01/2002
Last updated 01/18/2010