Catch Kids’ Attention Creating a Mini-Olympic Village in Class

"Okay team, let's warm up for our own Olympic events - learning and fun!"

“Okay team, let’s warm up for our own Olympic events – learning and fun!”

Mid-Week Focus this week features the winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia as an opportunity for learning.

Surprise students with an announcement that between now and the close of this year’s winter Olympic Games in Sochi on February 23, your classroom will become a mini-Olympic Village. 

In fact, it takes time to close out the Olympic Games. You can keep your mini-Olympic Village in place well into next week!

Explain that the village houses “our team.” Call your class “TEAM _________________ (name of your country).”

Get kids instantly involved by asking them to stand up and stretch to warm up for your Olympic events.

Announce the favored sport…Is it snowboarding? No. Is it bobsledding? No. Is it figure skating? No. The favored sport is getting good work done…with some Olympic-based fun.

CALL YOUR TEAM TOGETHER – How many kids in your class love sports? I’m guessing the numbers are high.

Kids, of course, don’t just like to watch from the sidelines; they want to play!

Play on students’ passion for sports by calling your team together when you open your mini-Olympic Village. Even kids that aren’t “sports oriented” enjoy being part of a team.

The morning you open your mini-Olympic Village, don’t just post the schedule for the day on the board. Briefly review the schedule aloud. Describe each activity as an “Olympic sport of the day.” For example, you can say, “We’ll be heading to Math Mountain to ski with today’s numbers.”

Get students excited about what you have planned by making Olympic team connections with all subjects.

For example, as you point to the time slot for reading that day, mention how many kids have recently improved their reading skills (if true), becoming stronger members of your reading “team.” “Way to go, Team _______________!” Tell the kids, like an Olympic coach would say, how much you appreciate students’ efforts.

ON YOUR MARK, GET SET, GO! – Blow a whistle to turn heads your way. Explain that Olympic athletes time their performances.

The clock is ticking for these student members of the class' writing team!

The clock is ticking for these student members of the class’ writing team!

Announce that one of the class’ Olympic events will be timed writing. Give students writing prompts to use as story-starters in a timed writing exercise.

Be sure that students have adequate notebook paper and pencils at hand before you blow the whistle again to begin.

Set a kitchen time (an attention-getting tool itself) for the number of minutes you plan to allow for writing.

Cue the class with a strong coach-like voice, “Team____________, on your mark, get set, go!”

Pencils poised with purpose, students will begin to write furiously to finish a good start before the timer buzzes.

Teachers who use timers for class activities report that many students like the structure of a countdown clock.

ACTION-PACKED OLYMPIC SPORTS WRITING – If you have access to the Internet, lead into another writing event by going online to view an Olympic site in Sochi. Spend a few minutes online discussing the dedication that it takes to reach the Olympic Games.
Make a connection to your science curriculum. Explain to students that Olympians today rely on scientists, including aeronautic specialists, to increase their speed in competition.
It’s all about the fastest action!

Ask students to watch and think about the action of different sports.

Invite the class to write a poem about their favorite winter Olympic sport using powerful action words.

One of my students, 10-year old Jon Eubanks, captured the action of skating in a poem he wrote with me.


Skating takes your worries away, you’re never in a hurry,

you’re one task only, your mind is set, you let everything go,

sweat trickles down your face, you fly by at a steady pace,

skating all through town with your friends, what could be better.

Sochi, Russia is a fascinating place. Help your class find it on a world map.

Sochi, Russia is a fascinating place. Help your class find it on a world map.

TRAVEL TO SOCHI – Kids love imaginary travel through creative channels or online resources.

Teachers who have access to the Internet can inspire students’ participation in a Mini-Olympic Village by showing online video clips of interviews with Olympic athletes who model the ability to focus and stay on task.

Go online ahead of time to plan your sports-based hooks into lessons. Show students a world map and point to Sochi, Russia, host of the 2014 winter Olympic Games.

MORE WORLD CONNECTIONS – Invite older elementary school students to research sports that are part of the winter games.

Challenge kids to check on schedules for the winter games, choosing games that interest them most. Use your “stay in a Mini-Olympic Village as a chance to focus on the importance of good organization and communication skills.

These assignments can offer quick lessons that connect with Social Studies and other subjects, including world geography, and languages.

Here’s an idea…Challenge kids to create their own sports-centered lesson plans to present to their class “teammates!”

One of the best ways to teach is to coach to reach kids.

Creating a classroom setting that in some way mirrors the experience of Olympic athletes is an effective way to catch kids’ attention by recognizing their passion for sports.

Successful coaches command attention by forming strong emotional bonds with their team members as they guide them with specific strategies to win games. Winning teachers do the same, generating excitement for the learning process to achieve academic goals.

Please send comments about how you incorporate students’ interest in sports into your curriculum.

Stop by again on Monday for Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers.

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

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Posted in Mid-Week Focus
Barbara Cleary has been serving as a resource to hundreds of educators for more than 25 years. An award-winning writer, producer, teacher, and trainer, Barbara’s focus is on offering easy, fun tools and tricks that support K-5 curricula and assist teachers with classroom management.
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