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Let the Games Begin!
Let the Learning Begin!

From February 7 to 23, athletes from around the world will be competing in the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi (in the Russian Federation). 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 2014 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.

Olympic Metrics
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. (Grades 3-12)

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. (Grades Pre-K-12)

Olympics Art Fun
Students create medals, Olympic rings, and torches using common materials. (Pre-K-2)

Reading Olympics
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, Advanced)

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 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, 5 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 Torch Concentration Puzzle (Grades 1-4)
Olympic Training Center from Newton's Apple (Grades 3-12)
Olympic Leaders (Grades 3-12)
Winter Olympic Games Project (Grades 9-12)
Winter Olympic Sport and Science (Grades 9-12)

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World®
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Links updated 12/23/2013