Let the Games Begin!
Let the Learning Begin!
From February 12 to 28, athletes from around the world will be competing in the events of the 20th Olympic Winter Games
in Torino, Italy. To help creative teachers around the world capitalize on this ultimate "teachable moment," Education
World offers more than two dozen Olympics-related classroom activities.
The moment -- the ultimate "teachable moment" -- is here! The 2006 Winter Olympic Games have begun!
To celebrate the start of the Games, Education World offers a handful of new lesson plans plus more lesson
ideas and links to more than a dozen lessons we found on the Net. All those lessons are designed to help you capitalize
on students' excitement about the Olympic Winter Games.
Below you will find a list of this week's new lessons. Click on a headline for a complete teaching resource. Approximate
grade levels are in parentheses.
Metric measurements related to Winter Olympic events are converted to their U.S. equivalents. (Younger students use
an online metric converter; older students use a formula to calculate the measurements.) Work sheets are included.
Say "Hello!" Around the World
A student-created map or bulletin board shows how the greeting "Hello" is spoken in many countries around the world.
Olympics Art Fun
Students create medals, Olympic rings, and torches using common materials. (Pre-K-2)
The emphasis in this classroom Olympic competition is on reading and book-related fun! (Grades K-8)
Create Your Own Classroom Olympic Games
Invite students to compete in these eight "classroom Olympic" activities. Add your own activities to hold a different
event each day of the Winter Games. (Grades K-12)
Tracking Olympic Gold!
Print or online resources are used to build graphs that track Olympic medal winners by country or sport. (Grades Pre-K-12,
Be sure to see more Winter Olympic Games activities in our other article, Countdown to the Winter Olympics.
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
Links updated 01/18/2010