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Countdown to the
2018 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!

The world awaits the 2018 Winter Olympic Games which will be held for 17 days from February 9-25 in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, the Republic of Korea.  The competition program for PyeongChang 2018 includes six exciting new events: snowboard big air (men’s and women’s), speed skating mass start (men’s and women’s), curling mixed doubles and the Alpine team event. This means that the total number of gold medal events will be 102 – the most ever contested at an Olympic Winter Games to date.

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.

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.


Teacher Planet Winter Olympic Resources
Teacher Planet offers lesson plans that discuss various aspects of the Winter Olympics. They also provide worksheets, hands on activities and classroom resources like clip art.

Winter Olympic History Year By Year
Historic stats about the Winter Olympic Games provide the data. Students create the chart. Teaching master included. (Grades 3-12)

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 3-12)

Olympic Biographies
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 Sochi.

But that's just the beginning! We've got plenty more ideas to follow...

Track the Weather. Use your favorite weather source 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.

Sports Talk. Assign each student, or a pair of students, to track each of the 15 winter Olympic Sports. They can keep the class informed about the sport, its competitors, how the sport is judged, terminology related to it, and more. Good basic sources of information include the official Olympics site and NBC's site

Read a Schedule. When are the different Olympic events scheduled to take place? NBC offers a Complete Olympic Schedule. Ask students 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 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 Students might use this source 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.

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 current games. (Approximate grade levels for many activities appear in parentheses.)

Mr. Donn's Ancient Greek Olympics Simulation Unit (Grades 3-12)
Journey Through the Olympic Games (WebQuest)
Winter Olympics in the Gym (Grades 3-5)
Fractions in Olympics (Grades 4-8)
Olympic Leaders (Grades 3-12)
Winter Olympic Games Project (Grades 9-12)

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World®
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Updated 12/15/2014