Whether you’re a new teacher or an experienced educator, you know that special events in the classroom can catch student interest and make real-world events more accessible and meaningful. With the 2016 Olympics fast approaching, here are some simple ways to bring the Olympics into your classroom for learning fun and student engagement.
1. Sprint for the Answer
Bring the flavor and spirit of the Olympics into your lessons by creating and using competitive academic games like “sprint for the answer.” In this activity, children line up and take turns going to a large sheet of poster paper and adding their own answer to a topic or question chosen by the teacher. For an added factor, kids be encouraged to answer quickly or gain points for every correct answer. Sprint for the answer is a great way to review vocabulary, to brainstorm, or to engage in collaborative learning in teams.
2. STEM Olympics
Set up a brief series of STEM activities in your classroom to explore science, engineering, or even just problem solving. Students can gain points by completing activities accurately and with shorter times. At the end, give classroom medals to the teams with the best time scores and most accuracy.
3. Country Sort
Explore geography with Olympic participant countries. Provide students with a blank map and country name tiles made from paper. Have students identify the countries that are participating in this year’s Olympic games.
4. Athlete Profiles
Help students gain background knowledge with collaborative research. Allow students to choose an Olympic Athlete – past or present – of their choosing. Next, students should collaboratively research the individuals’ background, achievements, and culture. You can tailor this project to whatever your subject matter. Look at country and culture for social studies, records and sports related physics for math and science, or focus on the presentation quality itself for language arts. It is important, for this activity, that you let children choose their own topics to explore and present to the class in this collaborative assignment, even if guidelines are provided to narrow those topics. Students with investment into their project choice will be more involved and engaged.
5. Historic Olympics Timeline
For an activity that looks at the history of the Olympics, consider having students research and present a pictorial timeline of Olympic history. From the first Olympics to special Olympic moments, students can learn about various countries, historic moments, and famous Athletes by creating a visual timeline. Technology can be used to make the timeline interactive, including links to research the students found. If you have limited computer access, traditional pictorial timelines are also engaging and ask students to apply critical thinking skills to select important and relevant events.