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PlanBee releases Olympic-themed activities to keep children in the Highlands entertained while learning


By Federica Stefani

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This year has taken its toll on parents’ and children’s physical and mental health, and everyone is longing for a bit of rest and relaxation. However, the six-week school break can leave children’s learning brains a little too relaxed.

Taking inspiration from the Tokyo Olympics, former primary school teacher Abby Milnes, from the teaching platform PlanBee, has put together a series of useful learning activities to keep the kids’ brains sharp.

Learn about...

… time zones

Stock picture, Pixabay.
Stock picture, Pixabay.

There is an eight-hour time difference between the Games and the UK. This is a great opportunity to teach your children about time differences between countries and why they exist. Challenge your children to work out what time they will need to turn on the TV if they want to watch an event live (hypothetically of course; some of the events may be broadcast in the early hours of the morning in the UK!).

Download this free Time Zones Map to help teach your children about Time Zones.

… measuring time

Many of the Olympic events are measured and scored against how long it takes to complete the event. Events under a minute such as the 100m sprint, 200m kayak, team sprints in cycling etc will provide suitable contexts for younger children to think about when measuring time. Older children may like to take on slightly longer events.

This PlanBee lesson may help teach your younger child about measuring time.

Challenge your child to see how many things they can do within the same time as it took an athlete to complete their event. For example, the Olympic record for running 100m was 9.63 seconds set by Usain Bolt at the 2012 Olympics. How many blocks can your child stack in this time? How many ticks can they do on a sheet of paper? After showing children how to read the amount of time on a stopwatch, get them to time each other and take it in turns to see who can beat the record in your own events.

… measuring distance

Other Olympic events such as long jump, javelin, shot put and discus are scored and measured using distance.

Using a metre ruler or measuring tape, challenge your children to take part in a long jump event. They can take a run-up, or go from a standing jump. Mark where the back of their foot landed and help your child measure how far they jumped!

… averages

Picture by Luna Lovegood, Pexels.
Picture by Luna Lovegood, Pexels.

Some events such as gymnastics are scored by a judges panel. Each judge gives the performance a score which is then averaged out to give a final score. Challenge your child to take individual judges scores and find the average score by adding them up and dividing the total by the number of individual scores.

… variables

“I wonder… do you run faster on grass or concrete?” Challenge your children to think about conducting simple investigations with “I wonder…?” questions like the one above. Younger children may need help with timing but they should be able to make verbal conclusions with you such as “I ran faster on the concrete”.

Older children (7+) should be encouraged to think scientifically. Is it fair if you wear sandals to run on the grass, but running shoes on the concrete? No, they should be the same. What about the distance you run?

Other things they could test:

● Do I run faster wearing trainers, or when I’m barefoot?

● Will I jump further with a run-up?

● Will I jump further with a long run-up or a short run-up?

● Does someone with longer legs jump further?

… pentathlons

Picture by Alex Smith from Unsplash.
Picture by Alex Smith from Unsplash.

What’s the difference between a triathlon, a pentathlon and a decathlon? The number of events! (T is also a perfect opportunity to look at the prefixes tri- pent- and dec- to mean three, five and ten e.g. tri-angle, tri-cycle, pent-agon etc.)

Challenge your children to come up with their own events for a family tri, pent or decathlon! They don’t have to be Olympic events, just a number of events that an athlete will be timed to complete. They don’t even have to be sport related: Who will be the fastest person to put on their socks? Who will be the overall winner?

... drawing figures

Picture by Markus Spiske, Pexels.
Picture by Markus Spiske, Pexels.

Do you have a budding artist in the ranks? Why not challenge them to draw their favourite athlete from the Olympics. Up the challenge by asking them to draw the figure in motion as they complete their event.

Use these free Paper Mannequin Templatesto help support your artist in their challenge.

… architecture

Pictyre by La Rel Easter, Unsplash
Pictyre by La Rel Easter, Unsplash

Having held the Games before in 1964, Tokyo already had venues to host different Olympic events. The newly built National Stadium was finished in November 2019. Challenge your child to investigate its design, including the different ways it has been designed to be eco-friendly.

Work together to create your own model of an Olympic stadium, making sure there’s enough room for a track and spectators.

… map skills

Some of the cycling events in the Olympic Games require a set route to be planned out over a certain area. Print out a map of your local area and identify where you are and any areas they are not allowed to go to. Together, plan out a cycling route for your own Olympic cycling event. You could repeat the route several times to try and beat your personal best!

Beware: If you are riding on roads, make sure your child can ride confidently on them and is aware of safety rules.

… clothing design

Take a look at the designs for the athletes’ kits. How is the country represented in the design? What functionality does there need to be? This could link nicely with investigating the different countries' flags.

Challenge your children to design a uniform for the country of their choice using this free template.


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