Gold-Worthy Ideas for the Upcoming Games

Gather some ideas for bringing the Winter Olympics into your classroom.

By Mollie Moore

Posted

olympic medals

Every two years, once in the summer and once in the winter, the best athletes in the world gather and compete for the Olympic gold. This exciting event can provide multiple opportunities for teachers to come up with creative, engaging activities to use in the classroom. Take this opportunity to expose your students to sports, sportsmanship, other countries, and concepts that are outside of their normal frame of reference. Below are ideas that teachers from all subject areas can use to take students' interest and excitement about the Winter Olympics and turn it into an educational experience. 

Reading and Writing

  • Provide quotes from current or past Olympians to which pupils can respond. This can be a good opportunity to discuss hard work and perseverance, as well as teamwork.

  • Read articles on the various sports and Olympians, and provide comprehension questions.

  • Have students research a different country. Then, they can present their information in the form of a poster, a video clip, a PowerPoint, or as an original story that is set in that country.

Math

  • The Olympics provide a great opportunity to discuss the various types of graphs. For the younger grades, have learners use pictographs and bar graphs to track the number of medals won, either by country or by type. For older grades, they can create bar graphs for the number of medals won per day. To make the lesson more complex, have them create a double line graph comparing the USA and another country. I recommend that you choose a country such as Germany or Canada who typically wins a similar number of medals.

  • Order the decimals based on time trials.

  • Use statistics from the hockey games to converts fractions to percents.

  • Compare ages of the various athletes within a sport.

Science

  • Study the weather of Sochi or the other countries involved that participate in the Olympics. Challenge the researchers to see if they notice any patterns.

  • Sports like the luge and skeleton are perfect ways to discuss force, as well as potential and kinetic energy.

  • As the various sports are competed, use it as an opportunity to discuss the various muscle groups in the body that are needed the most for each sport.

  • Healthy eating is necessary for any athlete. Have pupils research what foods and nutrients are necessary for athletes.

Social Studies

  • Have students locate on a map the various countries involved or the various states of US athletes.

  • Research the history of the Olympics or a particular sport. Then, have pupils create a timeline for it.

  • Create a biography for a current or past Olympian.

  • Study the flags of the various countries and what the various items represent. Challenge your students to consider what those representations might mean about a particular country.

  • Track the route of the Olympic torch.

Miscellaneous

  • Character: The Olympics provide a wealth of role models that provide an easy avenue to discuss character traits, such as perseverance, playing fair, hard work, and teamwork.

  • Classroom Management: If your classroom management system is based on groups, have your students research a country and that country can become their group name during the Olympics. (Tip: Do not let anyone choose the USA.)

  • Data Boards: Many school districts are creating data boards to track student growth. Choose an Olympic theme, such as “Going for Gold” for your data board.

Lesson Plans:

Go For the Gold! For Grades 6-8

Check out this resource that provides a multiple-day lesson plan for a research project on the Olympics. Though it was designed for the 2004 Olympics, you do not need to change anything that is provided for the students. It also includes an extension activity and a rubric for their projects.

Olympic Medal Count

If you want to track the medal count within your classroom, this is an excellent chart where pupils must determine which flag corresponds with its country. It then allows them to track the number of gold, silver, and bronze medals during the Olympics. This can then be used to help them make a variety of graphs.

Which Muscles? Olympic Learn and Play Sports

If you are a science teacher, take some time to look at this plan. It allows pupils to consider what muscles are used when one is engaging in the various sports. It also provides a simple muscle diagram that explains what particular muscles do in the body.