Whether it is an Olympic year or not, using these famous athletic events as a theme in the preschool classroom can help teachers to introduce a variety of new topics that range from countries and cultures to the seasons. Preschoolers can try a mix of arts and crafts and gross motor and literacy activities that all focus on the summer or winter Olympics.
Arts and Crafts
There are many different arts and crafts options to use when planning a preschool lesson on the Olympics. Try a general project, for use with either the summer or winter games, and create ring prints. Invite the preschoolers to dip a circle-shaped cookie cutter in the Olympic colors (blue, yellow, black, green and red) into tempera paints and print the famed ring pattern onto a sheet of white paper. Another option is to make-your-own Olympic torch. Paint toilet paper rolls or half cardboard tubes as holders. Ask the children to glue two to three pieces of red, yellow and orange tissue paper to the inside of the tube, extending at least 6 inches above the tube end, as mock flames.
It may not be feasible to plan actual Olympic activities for your preschoolers. Although your students won't be able to actually ski, skate or swim during class time, it is possible to create mock or modified Olympic-inspired sports activities. Choose either the summer or winter games, and select a few different events to alter. For example, while the children can't really ski in school you can create faux paper skis and poles and ask the children to bend their knees back and forth and imagine that they are skiing. As an alternative, try a real activity that the kids can handle such as running races, or make up your own Olympic relay race.
Join forces with the other teachers in your preschool and set up an all-school Olympic event. Assign each classroom a country to be. As a group, the children can create their county's flag while learning about that region's specific culture and traditions. Hold an opening ceremony with a faux Olympic torch, songs inspired by the games and a parade of classroom flags. Decide on a few different easy events to compete in, such as track and field. Additionally, teachers can create their own Olympic-inspired events such as an Olympic water balloon toss or Olympic tag. Ask the children to help make mock medals from ribbons and painted cardboard circles. End your school's games with a medal ceremony where everyone gets a special award.
Books and Research
Help your preschool class learn about the Olympics and hone budding literacy and research skills. Borrow five to 10 non-fiction books about the Olympics from your local library and spend a week reading each book at circle time or before nap time. Discuss the books with the children, asking them to explain what they see and hear. Make a list of Olympic events, from the books, on a chalk board or a piece of large paper. If your classroom is equipped with computers, use the technology to research basic Olympic facts with the children on child-friendly websites. Look for Olympic images, video clips of actual events or bios to read (to the children) about past athletes.
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