Teaching Resource

The Olympics

A themed project plan embracing the Olympics from its every angle for use at Key Stages 2 and 3, presenting an ongoing opportunity to celebrate the event with a series of thinking skills activities and resources.

The modern Olympic Games came from a belief held by Pierre de Coubertin, that sport had much to add to the education system which existed in France.

Coubertin’s basic ideas developed into an Olympic spirit, which is probably best expressed in the Olympic Creed: ‘The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.’

The Olympic Games gives countries a chance to forget differences, and celebrate our shared humanity. Athletes perform to the best of their natural ability in an atmosphere of fairness and honesty. This can be seen from some of the athletes who have competed at the games, who had no chance of winning, but represented their country with pride and dignity. There are very few times when people can put aside their differences, but the Olympics has very much become the place to do so.

The Olympic Games have evolved since Coubertin first established them in 1896. They have had their problems but these hav been overcome. The history of the Olympic Games from the ancient to the modern provides a rich source for activities and challenges. Great thought was given to the essentials of the Olympic Games – the flag, the oath, the motto, the creed and the flame, which shows the link between the ancient and the modern. It is evolving into the dream that Pierre Baron de Coubertin held over a century ago.

Just as the Olympic Games bring together all countries, it provides the opportunity for cross curricular activities. Here, a question-led text introduces students to the Olympic topic. This can be used to build prior knowledge before beginning the activities, or to supplement independent research led by the posed questions.

This cross curriculum project includes:

‘The Birth of the Modern Olympics’ text (Open Access)
A question-led text covering the founding of the modern Olympics, the first Olympic Games and Coubertin’s vision for the future. Available as a word document (formatted to make mass printing easier and more cost effective).

Activity 1: Reading the text (Open Access)
This activity encourages active thinking and reading through close examination of the text, ‘The Birth of the Modern Olympics’. Students read and analyse the text from various ‘reading roles’.
The downloadable resource pack includes instructions and:

  • Activity sheet 1a: Reading roles record sheet
  • Activity sheet 1b: Reading roles cards (to cut out and assign to each student)
  • Activity sheet 1c: Working Out Words (WOW)

Activity 2: Olympic facts
Students examine a brief history of medal winners at the Olympic Games, and represent the data mathematically.
Includes instructions and:

  • Activity sheet 2a: Olympics data worksheet
  • Activity sheet 2b: Top ten medal winners

Activity 3: Olympic timeline
In this activity, students research a number of Olympic Games and create a visual representation of the highlights and controversies of each event. The resulting work can create a class display.
Include instructions and:

  • Activity sheet 3a: Student introduction
  • Activity sheet 3b: Research grid
  • Activity sheet 3c: Information for student timelines

Activity 4: The Olympian flag
Students research the colours and significance of the Olympian flag. Also includes a brief activity where students identify the flags of countries who’ve previously hosted the Olympic Games.
Includes instructions and:

  • Activity sheet 4a: Olympic flags (Countries who’ve hosted the Games)
  • Activity sheet 4b: Olympic flags answer sheet
  • Activity sheet 4c: Student worksheet

Activity 5: Biographical writing
Students write a biography of an athlete who participated in the Black Power Salute at the 1968 Olympics. As an extension activity, they put together success criteria for peer marking.
Includes instructions and:

  • Activity sheet 5a: Student introduction – The Black Power Salute
  • Activity sheet 5b: Success criteria checklist (Example)

Activity 6: Comparing climates (formerly ‘Drawing graphs’)
This activity is designed to help pupils find out about the climate of London and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – the host city of the next Olympics Games. Using the data provided, they draw graphs (either by hand or using Microsoft Excel) and explore the impact of temperatures and how this influences life in each city.
Includes instructions and:

  • Activity sheet 6a: Rainfall and temperature data (for use if asking students to hand draw the graphs from the data provided)
  • Activity sheet 6b: Rainfall and temperature data (for use if asking students to create graphs with Microsoft Excel)

Activity 7: How much do we weigh?
The ancient Greeks competed in the Olympic Games in honour of their Olympian gods. Many of the Greek gods had Roman counterparts – the planets in our solar system are all named after these Roman gods, with the exception of Uranus (which is Greek). In this activity, students calculate weight depending upon the gravitational pull of the planets of the solar system.
Includes instructions and:

  • Activity sheet 7: Student worksheet

Activity 8: Writing a myth
Students create a myth based on a solar or lunar eclipse. Alternatively, students write a myth to explain the beginning of the Olympic Games.
Includes instructions and:

  • Activity sheet 8: Student introduction – Ancient myths and legends
  • Activity sheet 10: The story of Pelops
  • Activity sheet 5b: Success criteria checklist (Example)

Activity 9: Rio de Janeiro 2016
In this activity, students take on the role of the Olympics Planning Committee. They are asked to create a presentation to inform the government of their plans for the Games. Tasks include designing an Olympic mascot, logo and stadium for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.
Includes instructions and:

  • Activity sheet 9a: Student introduction
  • Activity sheet 9b: Your Olympic site (guidance on what to include in the design for the Rio stadium)
  • Activity sheet 9c: Rio logos – images of the logos the real Rio Olympics Planning Committee have chosen.

Activity 10: The story of Pelops – P4C enquiry
In this activity, students take part in a Philosophy for Children (P4C) style enquiry into the legend of Pelops, exploring the wider themes behind it.
Includes instructions and:

  • Activity sheet 10: The story of Pelops

Activity 11: The Munich Games
In the first activity featured in this pack, students research some of the highlights of the Munich Olympic Games in 1972. In the second activity, students research some of the athletes taking part in the Games. They then ‘hot-seat’ each other in an attempt to guess which athlete the other student has researched.
Includes instructions and:

  • Activity sheet 11a: Student introduction
  • Activity sheet 11b: Five questions sheet
  • Activity sheet 11c: The question hand

Further reading

Olympic and Paralympic Values – What Have They Ever Done For Us?

Increasing participation in PE and sport for students with SEND

Sporting Future – A New Strategy for an Active Nation