The Olympics are a great opportunity for teachers, or parents, to enhance their students’ learning environments. If you are an elementary school teacher, use these ideas to incorporate the 2010 Olympics into almost every content area in your classroom. As a parent, you can modify some of these activities for after-school fun or even host an Olympic party with these activities for your child’s friends.
Re-create the Relay
Host your own Olympic torch relay and give your students a chance to live this Olympic tradition. Make an Olympic torch by rolling a large piece of construction paper into a narrow cone. Tape it closed, then cover this base with silver aluminum foil. Stuff orange, yellow and red tissue paper into the large opening of the cone. Assign your students to small groups of five or six. Let each group make their own torch to pass between the members for the relay.
Show a few brief video clips of the torch relays in the Pacific Northwest for the 2010 Olympics. Tell your students about the symbolism and meaning behind the torch run and discuss how the torch often passes through many different communities in the area where the Olympics are held. In your school gym, play area (or backyard for parents) designate areas to represent the different communities. Let each small group make signs and posters with the names of the different towns and cities and symbols to represent them.
As the students run their relays, have other members of their relay team waiting at the designated areas. Set up obstacles between the decorated areas. Students will complete one obstacle, reach a “town,” hand off the torch to a teammate, and then return to the finish line to cheer their team on.
Use current Olympic events to help your student learn about averages and decimal numbers. Play a video clip of an Olympic event with judged scores (not speed events). For example, show ski jumping or figure skating. Assign five judge positions to students (these can rotate after each athlete competes). Give each judge a small white board and marker. The class will view the athlete’s attempt, then the judges will hold up their scores. The rest of the class will average the scores, without a calculator, with a small prize or sticker going to whichever student correctly gets it first. Next athlete, switch judges, and continue. Continue until each student has a chance to average and be a judge.
Show a brief clips (one athlete’s attempt) at a variety of different Winter Olympic events. Provide a large variety of craft materials, especially cotton balls, chenille straws, aluminum foil, craft papers, and pom poms in different colors. After viewing the footage, and discussing the difference in the different events, each student will choose their favorite event or one they wish they could compete in. Give each student a shoebox and free reign with the craft materials to create a scene of their favorite Olympic event. As a teacher, you may want to give students some examples of how to make athlete figures by molding chenille straws or modeling clay. Younger students may need more help.
After students have completed their Winter Olympic scenes, have them write a brief story (a few sentences to a few paragraphs based on age and ability) describing their events. Encourage them to use strong details and imagine what they would feel if they were whizzing down the mountain or spinning on the ice. You may want to brainstorm a list of imagery words before students get started and leave it on the board as they write.