Use the Olympic Games to Study Geography in the History Classroom: Three Ideas

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Current Events

Incorporate current events into the classroom by asking students to find articles from newspapers or online sources relating to the Olympics. Assign students a specific country, sport or athlete. If students are assigned a particular country, ask them to find non-Olympic related articles such as articles about the country’s economy, tourist destinations, government or schools. Utilize technology, allowing students to visit the computer lab to search for articles. Provide students with a list of websites they may find valuable in their search. Depending on students computer abilities, reviewing basic computer procedures may be necessary.

After students have an article, ask them to carefully read the article and write a short summary about the main idea. Consider allowing the students to type their summary after they have written a rough draft. Provide students with the grading criteria. If time allows, ask students to give a one minute oral presentation on the most important fact in the article.

Geographic Locations

Create a research project incorporating some of the countries participating in the Olympic games. Select countries the students may not be familiar with and locate them on the map. Ask students to select a country randomly from a hat to use for their research project. Integrate technology into the classroom, giving students the opportunity to conduct research in the computer lab. Provide students with helpful websites and online databases to search. Review computer and word processing skills and procedures depending on your students abilities.

Provide the students with a list of criteria or rubric for the research project. Convey to students the depth and complexity of this project. For example, tell them if the project is finding a few simple facts on the country or a complete analysis of the economy, geography and history of the selected countries. Remind students that grammar, spelling and sentence structure are items they should remember to focus on in their writing.

Host Country

An easy and quick activity for studying the host country is finding interesting facts about the country and it’s cities. Assign each student a particular day and aspect of the country such as economy, wildlife, business, geography, schools and major cities. Students are required to find three to five facts relating to their aspect on the assigned day and share at the beginning of class. These provide quick warm-up activities or an easy participation grade.

Consider altering this activity and giving each student a different country. Assign each student a day and ask them to bring in the required facts. Ask for three to five facts about the following topics: economy/businesses, schools, geography, culture, language, tourist destinations, major cities or notable events in history. Tell students they should be able to locate their country on the map.

These are just three simple ideas of incorporating the Olympics into the curriculum. Do you have any additional ideas?