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9 Gold Medal Activities for the Classroom

Using the excitement associated with the Olympics to offer students a variety of engaging learning opportunities.

By Lani Aquino

Staying relevant is great way to help students stay engaged in learning. Transforming the learning space and/or the learning experiences encountered within it can do wonders for capturing and maintaining students’ attention. With the 2018 Winter Olympics on the horizon, integrating this high-interest competition into the curriculum can allow students to dive into a variety of learning activities with an Olympic backdrop. These 9 activities can be modified to fit a variety of subject areas and grade levels.

  1. Diversity Study- Delving into the wide array of cultural and religious backgrounds among the Olympians is a perfect way to study and open up discussions about diverse cultures and customs. This SLJ article offers information and links about current discussions surrounding female athletes wearing hijabs during sporting competitions. It sheds a much needed light and opens up the opportunity for in-depth discussions about the role religious customs play on today’s sporting fields.
  2. Informational Text- High-interest informational text is certainly not in short supply surrounding the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games or a bevy of past and future Olympic Games. By bookmarking the Olympic website, students and teachers can stay up-to-date on trending news, results, athlete profiles, game history, and more. Whether the articles and profiles are used for stand-alone reading or for researching a specific topic or event, there is a seemingly limitless amount of reading material centered around all things Olympics.
  3. Mathematical Studies- The Olympics are all about the numbers, so there are lots of way to incorporate numbers and math into engaging activities. For younger leaners, activities can involve creating record-keeping graphs, doing a number hunt, reading a schedule, and/or several other ideas shared by Scholastic. Older students can follow an event and create word problems based on actual results. Students can also be tasked with completing comparisons between data for an event or Olympian over the span of several games. The Olympic Museum offers some additional activity resources for working with time and measurement.
  4. Persuasive Writing- There is a lot of information about the events that are currently in the Olympics, but what about the events that don’t make the cut? Students can write persuasive pieces to get non-Olympic sports back into the games or entered into the games for the first time. Another angle could also be taken where pieces are written to persuade committee members to eliminate a particular event from the games.
  5. Olympic Science- With all of the movement required in sports, it’s no surprise that science plays a large role in the successes and failures within the events. NBC Learn has 16 lesson resources for studying the winter games. Students can study the angular momentum and inertia associated with aerial skiing, Newton’s First Three Laws of Motion found in short track speed skating, friction’s role in curling, and much more. Studying scientific concepts through a sporting lens can aid in students’ comprehension of them.
  6. Sustainability- As students learn about sustainability, they can play a game where they are charged with making decisions for creating a future Olympic stadium. The three pillars of sustainable development are highlighted as each decision in creation is made. By choosing wisely in the areas of Environment, Economy, and Social, students work to construct a sustainable stadium and possibly earn a diploma for their well-executed efforts.
  7. Original Event- Students can be tasked with creating a new Olympic event. Groups could work together to create and stage an event for others to complete during a school or class Olympic Games. The original event would need to come with a name, step-by-step instructions, and definitions for any possible new terminology coined within its constructs. Teachers could supply a set of materials for students to use in creating their events, or students could build an original with or without materials.
  8. Social Media- Athletes must adhere to social media guidelines during the games, so following the # of a favorite Olympian would allow students’ to see the Games through a participant’s eyes. Reporting or narrative writing activities based on these followings would be an excellent way to extend the study. The Guidelines and FAQs shared on the Athletes’ Hub would be a perfect addition to a lesson on the importance of digital citizenship and the impacts of improper usage.
  9. Photography- The Olympics are an excellent opportunity to study photography. The Olympic Museum offers a host of resources for doing so. Students can study the history of sports photography, gain insight into the challenges associated with it, and/or learn about techniques like short exposure through a multimedia workshop. The photos alone could be used to tell powerful stories about past and present Games.

Bringing the Olympics to the classroom is an excellent way to bring some excitement to learning. Whether students are reading, writing, calculating, or creating, using the Olympics as the hook is sure to be well received. Staying timely while aligning to the curriculum is breeze with these 9 gold medal activities.

If you enjoyed the thoughts and ideas shared here, check out the trainings and tools (for teachers and for families) that we offer.

If you enjoyed the thoughts and ideas shared here, check out the trainings and tools (for teachers and for families) that we offer.

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