Friday, February 14, 2014

An Olympic Project

With a week down and a week to go in the Sochi Olympic Games, are you ready for your kids to research and write about them?

When the Games were in China, I certainly was. To justify the many hours in the basement watching TV, I asked my girls to work together on an alphabet project. Their task was to think of a relevant topic for each letter of the alphabet, divvy up the letters, research and write short pieces about their topics, and display the finished pieces on a tri-fold display board.

My passive observers suddenly became active learners. They were required to think, observe, research, write and revise, cooperate, and display their learning creatively.

To help you begin, I've listed the topics my girls chose to highlight. The words in bold are applicable for any Olympic Games.

A rchery: a brief explanation of the sport and some of the winners in 2008

B ird's Nest Stadium: information about the size and cost of the stadium, and the time it took to construct it; a picture of the stadium

C eremonies: a description of the opening ceremony

D ecathlon: an outline of the two days of events

E questrian: a brief explanation of the sport

F encing: bullet points explaining the event as well as a picture of the gold medalist

G ymnastics: descriptions of four events

H istory: a short story of a fictional man who won the first games in 776 BC

I nspiring story: a true story highlighting the humility of one of the athletes during competition

J ohnson, Shawn: a short biography of this admired gymnast

K ey competitors: short biographies of favorite competitors in the Games

L ocation:  interesting information about China, including language, currency, time difference, population, famous landmarks, and popular religions

M otto: the motto of the Olympics

N ow and then: a Venn diagram comparing the original and 2008 Olympic Games

O ath: the oaths that the competitors and judges must pledge

P helps, Michael: a short biography of this accomplished swimmer

Q ualification: the process athletes go through to compete in the Olympics

R ings: a drawing of the Olympic Rings

S ponsors: two descriptions of commercials

T riathlon: a brief explanation of the event

U nderwater sports: a bulleted list of interesting information

V ictories: the medal count for the top three countries

W ater cube: a brief introduction to the location where the water sports occurred

eX tra special Olympics: a brief introduction to the Special Olympics, including its beginnings

Y ip yip hooray: a sentence telling how many world records and how many Olympic records were broken

Z illions of fans: quotes from friends (gleaned through e-mail) about which of the games is their favorite and why

Too much to accomplish in the next week or two? Invite another family to work with you. Or adapt the project to fit your students and the time you have available. (One possibility is to use the letters from SOCHI OLYMPICS, WINTER OLYMPICS, or simply OLYMPICS.) The point isn't to re-create what we did but to connect learning with current events. And to have something to show for all those hours in front of the flat-screen.

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