- Perform online research on the ancient Greek origin of the Olympics
- Create an ancient Greek newspaper with articles about the Olympics
- Perform online research on the pentathalon
- Provide a written response to a writing prompt about chariot races.
- Discuss present-day atheletes.
- Create a map of cities where the olympics were held.
- Practive content area vocabulary and critical thinking skills by solving a puzzle.
Set Up and Prepare
- Gather materials for your classroom library
- Share Olympic Fun Facts.
- Have students look for any related news articles, which they can bring in to share with the class and add to an "Olympic Headlines" bulletin board.
Ancient Greek city-states competed against one other at the first Olympics. Your students will enjoy learning more about these colorful societies with this activity! First, invite students to form five groups - Sparta, Athens, Corinth, Argos, and Megara, then have them explore their city-state´s culture online by visiting different sites about
Ancient Greece, such as http://members.aol.com/Donnclass/Greeklife.html. Then have the members of each group agree upon a behavior that will distinguish it as a city-state during your classroom Olympics, and let the competition begin! Host tic-tac-toe, trivia, or jacks events. Once the victorious city-state has been declared, discuss why the groups acted the ways they did.
Invite your students to imagine that it is 500 BC and they are citizens of Olympia. It is their responsibility to create a newspaper for those coming to the games! To begin, discuss the important sections of a newspaper, such as news, weather, and sports. Then challenge teams of students to cover one of these sections for your Olympic newspaper. News writers can report on special preparations, sports writers can interview star athletes, and style writers can cover what's hot at the celebration banquets. Encourage your newspaper staff to do research so that their stories are as accurate as possible. When finished, kids can compile the stories and print enough issues for all to read. Invite your students to imagine that it is 500 BC and they are citizens of Olympia. It is their responsibility to create a newspaper for those coming to the games! To begin, discuss the important sections of a newspaper, such as news, weather, and sports. Then challenge teams of students to cover one of these sections for your Olympic newspaper. News writers can report on special preparations, sports writers can interview star athletes, and style writers can cover what's hot at the celebration banquets. Encourage your newspaper staff to do research so that their stories are as accurate as possible. When finished, kids can compile the stories and print enough issues for all to read.
With this activity, your students will research the exciting pentathlon and learn about one way the Olympics have changed throughout history. First, invite one half of your class to research the ancient pentathlon and the other half to study the modern version. Then encourage the groups to use the Internet to find out more about the participants and judging of each of the five events (try the excellent http://www.modern-pentathlon.com/). Ask both groups to make a book about their version of the pentathlon, with one page explaining each event. Finally, have the groups present their books to the class so that all can become pentathlon experts.
Chariot Race Writing
Challenge your students to use their knowledge of the ancient Olympics to respond to a learning-rich writing prompt in their journals. First, share this quote from Sophocles, a Greek playwright, describing the beginning of a chariot race:
"At the sound of the bronze trumpet off they started, all shouting to their horses and urging them on. The clatter of the rattling chariots filled the whole arena, and the dust flew up as they sped along in a dense mass. Each driver goaded his team to draw clear of the rival panting steeds, whose steaming breath and sweat drenched every flying wheel and bending back together."
After discussing any unfamiliar words, invite students to imagine that they are a chariot driver in this race and write a first-person account of what happens next. Who wins?
Many different Greek gods and goddesses were worshiped during the ancient Olympics. A fun way to introduce this fundamental part of Greek life is to begin by discussing what present-day athletes do for luck. A runner may eat a certain meal before a big race, for example, or a basketball player may always look for mom in the stands. Write your students' examples on the board. Then share Run with Me, Nike: The Olympics in Four Hundred Twenty, by Cassandra Case (Bt. Bound, 2002), or another title that explains the important role of mythology in the ancient Olympics. As a class, compare ancient and modern athletic rituals. Where do Olympians past and present find courage and strength?
A Mapping Challenge
Invite kids to practice their geography skills and learn more about where the Olympics have traveled - between the first games in Olympia and this summer's competition in Athens - with this fun mapping mystery. First, using pushpins, mark all of the Olympic cities (found at www.harveyabramsbooks.com/hostcities.html) on a world map. Then, throughout your unit, ask teams of two students to figure out the year two of the cities hosted the games. Have the teams write the years, the names of the cities, and pictures of the countries' flags on blank cards. Attach the cards to the map with the pushpins to create an impressive Olympic display!
Reading Olympics To wrap up your unit, consider talking to teachers in the grade level below or above about creating an Olympics-themed summer reading challenge. Students can clock the number of hours they spend reading Olympics-related materials, such as newspaper stories, articles in the magazine or on the Web and books from the school or public library.
Supporting All Learners
International Reading Association (IRA) & National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Standards:
Election 2004 helps students meet the following standards
- Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States.
- Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions.
- Students use a variety of technological informational resources (libraries, databases, computer networks) to gather and synthesize information to create and communicate knowledge.
- Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
- Students use spoken, written, and visual language for learning, persuasion, and exchange of information.
National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS)
Election 2004 meets the standards of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), which promote the development of students as good citizens in a culturally diverse, interdependent world. The content and activities of this project are especially appropriate for the themes of:
Power, Authority and Governance
Provide experiences for the study of how people create and change structures of power, authority, and governance.
Individual Development and Identity
Students learn to ask questions such as "What influences how people learn, perceive, and grow?"
Students learn how to understand multiple perspectives that derive from different cultural vantage points.
Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
Students learn about how institutions are formed, what controls and influences them, and how they can influence individuals and culture.
Civic Ideals and Practices
Students gain an understanding of the ideals, principles, and practices of citizenship in a democratic republic.
Assess students as they are involved with class discussions and from their filled out KWL and Timeline (PDF)organizers. Base your assessment on student participation and discussion. Has the student made connections through the activities and the discussions? Has the student filled out the timeline completely and the KWL chart with thoughtful questions with researched answers?