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Winter Olympic Math

The 2014 Winter Olympics begin on February 7 in Sochi, Russia. Get in the spirit with these easy math games!

  • Grades: 1–2, 3–5

Number Hunt
Challenge students to find the numbers 1-10 while watching the Olympics telecast. They can either do this as a family homework assignment, or you can watch a few clips in class (available at nbcolympics.com). If students complete the assignment as homework, have families record where and when they saw each number. For example, "We saw 3 on the skier's bib number, 5 on the bobsled time clock, and 8 on the ice skating score card." Compare answers as a class. How many different places did children see the number 3, for example? In which segment did the most students see the same number?

Tech twist: Make a counting slideshow using images and screenshots from this year's Olympics.

 

Gold Medal Graph
As a class, keep track of the number of gold medals the United States has won. Have students create a graph using chart paper and cleaned, recycled yogurt lids to represent the medals. Invite students to count the number of total medals daily, and together write an addition equation to represent the new total. For example, seven old medals plus two new medals equals nine medals.

Tech twist: Use an interactive whiteboard or software program to create the graph. Include digital photos of the winners.

 

Schedule of Events
Print a calendar of scheduled Olympic events or make your own large-scale version using posterboard or chart paper. (Schedules are available at nbcolympics.com.) Include icons representing various sports to help beginning readers. During morning meeting or circle time, practice calendar skills by asking students to identify that day's events. Also, ask questions such as "How many days until the figure skating championship?" and "What event was held two days ago?"

Tech twist: Pull up a schedule on an interactive whiteboard. You may be able to click on events that are happening now and catch a few minutes of action!

 

How Many Skis?
Bring in an old pair of skis if you can — check thrift stores or ask families if they have any awaiting donation. If you can't find skis, reproduce them on butcher paper. (Hint: Skis come in a range of sizes, averaging around 180 centimeters long, or 72 inches.) Help children to measure themselves against one of the skis, marking their respective heights with a black permanent marker. Together, discuss the data. Is everyone taller than half of the ski? How many skis do they think most grown-ups would be? Next, measure some common classroom objects, such as the blackboard or rug, in skis. Create a simple graph to display the data.

Tech twist: Pull up online images of landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, the White House, or Mount Everest. Challenge children to estimate how many skis the landmarks are.


Olympic Rings
Discuss the number and colors of the Olympic rings. (There are five rings: blue, yellow, black, green, and red). Display a world map and explain that each ring symbolizes one of the regions of the world (Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania). What is the shape of the rings? What objects can students spy in the classroom that are either round like the rings or one of the Olympic colors? Can children find any objects that are both round and one of the Olympic colors? List these items on chart paper.

Tech twist: Set up a Venn diagram on an interactive whiteboard with one circle labeled "Round" and the other labeled "Blue, Yellow, Black, Green, or Red." Display a variety of objects for students to sort into the appropriate categories.


Global Patterns
Display an image of the U.S. flag. What patterns, or repetitions, are there in the flag? Discuss how the alternating red-and-white stripes and the rows of white stars are patterns. Together, watch the opening ceremony of the Olympic games online at nbcolympics.com and challenge students to look for patterns in other countries' flags. Pause the video where necessary to explore patterns. You might also discuss the patterns in athletes' uniforms and in the music used during the ceremony.

Tech twist: Invite students to make their own patterned flags using an interactive whiteboard or simple graphics software.

 

  • Subjects:
    Winter, Winter Themes
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