The Olympics can be a source of inspiration for middle-school children, from great sporting achievements to the noble ideals of the Olympic movement itself. Activities with an Olympics bent should be arranged in a way that will engage all children, not just children who are interested in sports or who have athletic prowess.
History of the Olympics
Use the Olympics as a historical project. This should include both the modern Olympics, which began in Athens in 1896, as well as learning about the Games of Ancient Greece. For the modern Games, focus on the greatest Olympians in terms of sporting achievement. Discuss with the students who is the greatest Olympian of all, in terms of achievement. For the Ancient Games, study their traditions, formats and etiquette and why, for instance, women were barred from attending.
Olympics Geography Project
The Olympic Games, in modern times, have been held in great cities all over the world. Learning about the Games held in separate cities can then lead to learning about the cities themselves, and then spreading out to involve learning about the culture of the host country.
Great Olympic Athletes
Students can be taught, via DVDs, the technical aspects of athletics, including hurdling or throwing the discus. The class can also gain an understanding of how the great athletes often make their achievements look easy. Students should learn about the psychology of great athletes, and how they sometimes win against the odds. A lesson can then revolve around examples of how people outside sports also somehow overcome pressurized situations.
Teach the students about the the Olympic ideals. Encourage the students to say what they think is the most important Olympic ideal and how they think that the Olympic ideals could be improved. Ask the students if all the ideals are realistic in a modern society. Open up a debate in the class about some of the great examples of Olympic ideals. These should be examples of the Olympic ideals being displayed at the Olympic Games. For instance, great sportsmanship and courage.
- Olympic medals image by patrimonio designs from Fotolia.com