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Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Olympic rings.

The Rio 2016 Olympic Games (5 to 21 August) and the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (7 to 18 September) provided unique and vast learning opportunities for students.

Here is a collection of teaching ideas and resources to help you share the Olympic spirit with your school and community. You may also like to read our blog post for future focused learning and the Olympics. 

Curriculum links | Classroom suggestions | Teaching resources | Supporting resources

Links to the New Zealand Curriculum

The Rio 2016 Olympics provided a useful context for meeting the intent of The New Zealand Curriculum:

  • demonstrate the curriculum vision of being connected, actively involved, lifelong learners
  • explore the future focused issues of sustainability and globalisation
  • consider the NZC values of excellence, diversity, integrity, community, and participation
  • make use of key competencies, especially thinking and using language, symbols, and texts
  • achieve learning outcomes in a range of learning areas, especially social sciences and health and physical education.

Links to the social sciences
Students can meet achievement objectives in the social sciences by:

  • learning about the history of the Olympics
  • exploring the ways that host countries represent themselves to the world
  • examining the customs and traditions of Brazil
  • considering the economic and social impact on host cities.

Links to health and physical education
Students can meet achievement objectives in health and physical education by:

  • exploring the attitudes and values relating to Olympism
  • recognising the benefits of physical movement
  • following the journeys of famous sportspeople
  • learning about and participating in Olympic sports.

Classroom suggestions

Here is a selection of ideas to help you incorporate the Olympics into your teaching programme. Adapt the suggestions to suit the needs and interests of your students.

2006 winter Olympics opening ceremony.

Opening ceremonies
Students could view opening ceremonies from previous Olympic Games and discuss how each host country represents their cultures, values, and national identity. Students may consider how New Zealand might represent itself in an opening ceremony. What aspects of our culture, values, and national identity could we highlight?

Useful links

Research the history of the Olympics
The Olympics has a rich history encompassing the Ancient Games and the Modern Games. Students could investigate the origins and traditions of the Olympics and explore how the event has changed over time.

Useful links

In your book rooms ...

School Journal cover, Part 4, Number 1, 1996.

The First Olympic Marathon by Douglas Carian, School Journal, Part 4, Number 1, 1996
When the Olympic Games were first revived in 1896, the Greeks hoped to be able to win some medals. They were up against the athletic might of the United States and their hopes were unfulfilled until the last race, the marathon, when a small shepherd/postman ran the race of his life.

Analyse current issues during the Olympic Games
Showcase China, a unit developed for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, includes strategies and processes for analysing current issues. A set of five templates have been developed for this purpose. The templates can be used as they are, or adapted to suit the learning needs of your students.

Approaches to current issues during the games – Appendix 1

Rio Olympics Games mascot.

Olympic mascots
Mascots are popular ambassadors of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Students could investigate the mascots of the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics and look at mascots from previous Games. They could explore ways that mascots spread the Olympic spirit, communicate the Olympics values, and promote the cultural identity of the host countries.

Useful links

Hold your own Olympic Games
One way of engaging students in the Olympic Games is to host your own Olympic Games event. Classes could represent different countries and take part in a range of sports. Olympic traditions such as opening and closing ceremonies, the lighting of the torch, Olympic values, and medal ceremonies could be included.

In your book rooms ...

Game On article

Game On! by Trish Puharich, School Journal, Part 1, Number 1, 2006
This article recounts a school's Olympic celebrations, which are held every four years. It conveys the fun, excitement, and learning that take place from the opening ceremony, through the two weeks of sports events, to the final closing ceremony.

Teacher support materials

Follow famous sportspeople
Olympic athletes are inspirational with their fierce discipline and natural talent. Students could research famous Olympians from the past and present day and send their best wishes to our New Zealand team.  

Useful links

In your book rooms ...

School Journal cover, Level 4, 2012.

Violet Walrond: Olympic Swimmer by Philippa Werry, School Journal Level 4, March 2012
This journal article is about New Zealand's first female Olympian and her experience of the Olympic Games in Belgium in 1920.

School Journal cover, Part 4, Number 2, 1997.

Rowing to the Olympics by Alan Bagnall, School Journal Part 4, Number 2, 1997
In 1920 in Antwerp, Belgium, New Zealand entered the Olympics for the first time as an individual nation. D'Arcy Hadfield won a bronze medal in the sculling final. It was the first medal New Zealand had won as a national team. This fictional story by Alan Bagnall is inspired by D'Arcy Hadfield's achievements.

Explore the Olympic values
The Olympic values are respect, excellence, and friendship. The Paralympic values are determination, courage, equality, and inspiration. Students could explore how these values are demonstrated by athletes during the Games and the importance of these values in their own lives. 

Useful links

Career pathways
The Olympic Games and other global sports events provide many unique career opportunities for non-athletes. Secondary students could research the range of career options and investigate the courses and qualifications required.

Useful links

Teaching and learning resources

Game On education resource
Game On is a free online programme that aims to inspire young Kiwis to live the Olympic values of excellence, friendship, and respect. These resources have been developed by the New Zealand Olympic Committee. To access them, schools need to register for an account.

Find out more ...

Olympic Values education in action at Discovery School
This video describes how Discovery School have used the resources provided by Olympics New Zealand for previous Olympic Games.

Olympic Values education in action at Kapanui School
This video describes how Kapanui School have used the resources provided by Olympics New Zealand for previous Olympic Games. 

Showcase China – Beijing 2008 Olympic Games
These teaching and learning resources from the Asia Knowledge website were written for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. They include an integrated unit and a health and physical education unit. There are lots of ideas and activities that can be adapted to suit.

Supporting resources

Rio 2016 Olympics
This is the official website of the Rio 2016 Olympics where you can find news, photos, venue information, results, information about Rio de Janeiro, plus facts and figures of how sustainability is supporting the Games.

Olympic.org – Official website of the Olympic movement
The official site of the Olympic movement offers a searchable database that allows you to find information on past games, medalled athletes, participating countries, and sports involved from the 1896 games to present day.

Facebook New Zealand Olympics team
Follow the official Facebook page of the New Zealand Olympic and Commonwealth Games team to learn about our own New Zealand athletes.

Rio 2016 Paralympics
This is the official website of the Rio 2016 Paralympics which takes place from 7–18 September.

Paralympics New Zealand
This website provides stories, photographs, and profiles of our New Zealand Paralympians in Rio in 2016. You could follow the Paralympics New Zealand Facebook page to keep up to date with the latest news. 

Te Ara – Olympic and Commonwealth games
Te Ara provides information, images, sound recordings, and videos to help students learn about New Zealand's long history of participation at Olympic and Commonwealth Games.

New Zealand History Online – The Olympics
New Zealand History Online offers a multimedia exhibition about our nation's involvement with the Olympics that includes stories, images, videos, and sound recordings.

Ten intriguing facts about the Olympics
For lovers of general knowledge, this short YouTube clip shares ten interesting facts about the Olympics.

Olympics 30 Great Olympic stories
The Olympics 30 website shares stories from past and future Olympian heroes. This website has compiled Olympic specific lists that include top 30 inspirational stories, top 30 runners, and top 30 gold potentials.

Published on: 10 May 2016