I love the Olympics! I love every part of the Olympics – the stories, the travel, the colors, the flags, the scenery, the dreams. It was a dream come true when I got a chance to go to the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. We didn’t make it to the opening ceremonies but managed to find tickets to baseball, gymnastics and swimming events. We hung out at Centennial Park and bought t-shirts. I would love to make it to a winter Olympics one day.
I love the Olympics so much that in 1994 while teaching fifth grade we spent two weeks immersed in the Olympics. It was probably the best time I ever had teaching. We did EVERYTHING through the Olympics. We solved math problems with medal counts, distances, measurement, time, graphs, and speed. We explored social studies by learning about countries, flags and geographical features. We learned science through the science of sports – friction, speed, food for athletes, and weather. We had bobsled races with coins down a slope to explore friction and speed. We read and researched everything we could find on the history of the Olympics and what effects it has on the way the countries interact. We kept daily Olympic journals where we recorded happenings and our reactions. We discussed ambition and goal setting. We planned a trip to the Olympics and learned what all you have to do to be prepared for the Olympics. We learned how to critically view TV and watch for certain things like transportation, security, flags, places and weather. We even had our own torch run through the school. The students became TV announcers for a particular sport and learned how to write a script and perform live in front of their peers. I sure wish I could find the videotape of those performances!
Looking back on that unit I am struck by how much enthusiasm for learning there was in my classroom. The students had a very special real world event that they felt a part of even if it was thousands of miles away from our classroom. I wonder what I would have done differently if I had the access to technology then that I have now. Let’s see if any of my teachers want to find out!
I am going to try and write up some of the activities I used in my classroom. Meanwhile here’s some links I have found to Olympic Resources for your classroom:
The 2010 Winter Olympics Project – http://sites.google.com/site/misschatz/home
The IOC (check out the Champion in the Mind) – http://www.olympic.org/en/
The Science of the Olympic Sports – http://www.nbclearn.com/portal/site/learn –
Check out local athletes and current Olympic news – http://www.nbcolympics.com/index.html
Scholoastic – Go for the Gold – http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/athens_games/index.htm
Larry Ferlazzo’s Website – http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2010/01/10/the-best-sites-to-learn-about-the-vancouver-winter-olympics/
Teacher’s First- http://www.teachersfirst.com/spectopics/vancouverolympics__.cfm