How To Teach First Grade About The Olympics

Written by Dan

Last updated

Are you teaching first grade students about the Olympics, and want to ensure they have a deep understanding of its history, activities, and values?

The Olympic Games offer an excellent opportunity to teach these students meaningful lessons about human performance, individual effort, and international collaboration.

By providing engaging activities combined with knowledge gained from historical context you can help your first graders grasp this important concept.

Read on to learn how to make the most of your teaching time by developing comprehensive lesson plans that leverage critical thinking as well as fun!

Related: For more, check out our article on The Importance Of Teaching About The Greeks  here.

The Top 5 Tips For Teaching About The Olympics

Introduce The History of The Olympics

The Olympics, an international sporting event held every four years, can be traced back to ancient Greece where the games were held in honour of the deity Zeus.

These events were not only about physical prowess, but also on forging a sense of community and promoting diplomacy between various city-states. Today, the Olympics have evolved into a global platform where athletes compete not only for personal glory, but to represent their respective countries.

The importance of teamwork cannot be overstated in this arena. Each athlete may have their own strengths and abilities, but a team can achieve greatness only through collaboration and support.

The spirit of the Olympics encourages fair play and camaraderie among competitors, reminding us that even in fierce competition, collaboration and unity can lead to a shared victory.

What Countries Participate In The Olympics

The Olympics is a prestigious international sporting event featuring both Summer and Winter Games, where thousands of athletes worldwide come together to compete in various sports. Almost every country can participate in the Olympics, with over 200 countries typically sending their teams to the Games.

A country must have a recognized National Olympic Committee (NOC) to be eligible for participation. These NOCs organise and send their nation’s athletes to the Olympic Games. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) oversees the entire process, ensuring that the Games adhere to established rules and regulations.

Athletes compete against each other in various sports, which are divided into individual events and team events. In individual events, athletes represent their country and aim to achieve the best result in their respective sport, such as track and field, swimming, or gymnastics.

In team events, athletes work together to represent their country, competing in sports like basketball, soccer, or volleyball.

Athletes must meet specific criteria set by the International Sports Federations (IFs) governing each sport to qualify for the Olympics. These criteria may include achieving certain performance standards, rankings, or participating in designated qualifying competitions. Additionally, host countries are usually granted automatic qualification in some events to ensure representation.

During the Olympics, athletes compete in a series of rounds, heats, or matches depending on the sport. They advance through these stages based on their performance, with the ultimate goal of reaching the finals and winning a medal – gold for first place, silver for second place, and bronze for third place.

The final medal standings are determined by the total number of medals won by each country, with the highest number signifying the most successful nation during the Games.

The Olympics serves as a platform for international unity and friendly competition, promoting values such as excellence, respect, and friendship among athletes and nations.

Discuss Different Sports That Are Popular At The Olympics

There are two types of Olympics – the Summer Olympics and the Winter Olympics. Some sports you might be familiar with are skiing, gymnastics, and figure skating, which are all part of the Olympic Games.

  1. Skiing: Skiing is a winter sport where athletes glide on snow-covered slopes using skis – long, narrow pieces of wood or plastic attached to their boots. There are different types of skiing events in the Winter Olympics, such as Alpine skiing, Cross-country skiing, and Freestyle skiing. Alpine skiing includes downhill racing, where skiers race against the clock to reach the finish line as quickly as possible. In Cross-country skiing, athletes compete in long-distance races on groomed tracks. Freestyle skiing involves performing acrobatic tricks and jumps while skiing down a slope or a specially designed course.
  2. Gymnastics: Gymnastics is a sport that showcases incredible strength, flexibility, and balance. It is part of the Summer Olympics and consists of various disciplines, including Artistic Gymnastics, Rhythmic Gymnastics, and Trampoline. In Artistic Gymnastics, athletes perform routines on different apparatuses like the balance beam, uneven bars, vault, and floor exercise for women, and floor exercise, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars, and horizontal bar for men. Rhythmic Gymnastics is an all-women’s event, where athletes perform routines with props like ribbons, hoops, balls, and clubs while dancing to music. Trampoline gymnastics involves athletes performing flips and twists on a trampoline, competing for height and difficulty.
  3. Figure Skating: Figure skating is a beautiful and graceful winter sport that combines athleticism and artistry. Athletes – known as figure skaters – perform on ice, gliding and spinning to music while executing jumps, spins, and footwork. There are several figure skating events in the Winter Olympics, such as singles (men’s and women’s), pairs, and ice dancing. In singles and pairs events, skaters perform choreographed routines that include various jumps, spins, and other elements. Ice dancing is similar to ballroom dancing on ice, where couples perform together, focusing more on rhythm, style, and interpretation rather than jumps and spins.

These are just a few examples of the many exciting sports at the Olympic Games. Each sport requires dedication, hard work, and lots of practice to master. Whether you’re a winter or summer sports fan, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at the Olympics. So, which one of these sports interests you the most?

Show Students Images Of Olympic Venues

Teaching first-grade children about the Olympics can be a fun and engaging process that broadens their knowledge of sports and introduces them to the diverse cultures and countries that participate in this international event. One way to achieve this is by showcasing images of Olympic venues from various host cities worldwide.

Start by selecting a range of visually striking and unique venues, such as the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing, the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, or the London Aquatics Centre. These images will capture the children’s attention and spark their curiosity about the venues’ different architectural styles and geographical locations.

As you present each image, discuss the reasons behind the selection of that particular venue. This might include factors like the city’s climate, which can affect the performance of the athletes; the cultural significance of the location, which adds depth and meaning to the event; or the innovative design of the venue itself, which showcases cutting-edge technology and sustainability practices.

Encourage the children to ask questions and share their thoughts on the different venues. This interactive approach will help them develop critical thinking skills and foster an appreciation for the diverse countries and cultures that have hosted the Olympics over the years.

Additionally, consider incorporating related activities to enhance the learning experience further. For example, you could organize a mini-Olympics event at school, where the children participate in various sports and learn about the history and rules of each game.

Alternatively, you could introduce them to famous Olympic athletes from different countries and discuss their achievements, inspiring the children to pursue their own goals and dreams.

By showing students images of Olympic venues around the world and discussing the reasons behind their selection, you can create a dynamic and enjoyable learning environment that teaches children about the Olympics and instills a sense of global awareness and cultural appreciation.

Talk About How The Medals Won During The Olympics

The thrill of seeing your country’s athletes bring home a medal during the Olympics is an unmatched experience. But have you ever wondered what goes into the process of awarding these coveted medals? The athletes work tirelessly for years to perfect their skills and achieve their dreams. When they finally reach the podium, the medal they receive represents all their hard work and dedication.

Each medal carries a different weight of accomplishment from gold to silver and bronze. But the medals aren’t just handed out; they are carefully placed around the neck of the deserving athlete, who stands proudly as their national anthem plays in the background. This award ceremony is a testament to the athlete’s ability, grit, and commitment to excellence.

Explain How Participation In Sports Can Build Character, Discipline, and Sportsmanship

Participating in team sports benefits physical health and offers valuable lessons in character, discipline, and sportsmanship. Being part of a team teaches individuals how to work together towards a common goal, and it instills the importance of responsibility, accountability, and teamwork.

Furthermore, team sports require discipline, consistency, and perseverance to achieve success, which translates into life skills that can be applied beyond the sports field.

More importantly, sportsmanship is a central component of team sports, where players learn to respect their opponents, teammates, coaches, and rules. This encompasses fair play, integrity, and respect for others, promoting positive values that shape individuals’ moral character.

Therefore, being part of a team sport can be a rewarding experience that not only promotes physical fitness but also develops individuals’ personal growth and character.

The Olympics symbolize what it means to come together and compete in a spirit of unity. Not only do we celebrate the outstanding achievements of so many incredible athletes, but we are also inspired by their passion and dedication to their respective sports. Participating in team sports is an important part of growth and development that encourages sportsmanship, discipline, and self-improvement.

As seen through the success and significance of the Olympic Games, working together in a spirit of cooperation can be incredibly rewarding. Whether we strive to reach extraordinary goals or want to work towards our individual fitness goals, team sports can help us all become more confident and successful athletes. Let us strive for greatness by recognizing the amazing accomplishments possible when a group works together with unity and determination!


What is the best age to start teaching children about the Olympics?

There is no specific age to start teaching children about the Olympics. However, it’s generally a good idea to introduce the concept around the age of 5 or 6 when they begin to understand the world around them and can grasp the idea of sports and competition. You can tailor the information according to their age and comprehension level.

How can I make learning about the Olympics fun for my child?

To make learning about the Olympics fun and engaging for your child, consider using interactive activities, such as:
1. Watching exciting Olympic events together and discussing the highlights.
2. Creating Olympic-themed arts and crafts projects.
3. Organizing mini-Olympic games in your backyard or local park.
4. Reading age-appropriate books about the Olympics and famous athletes.
5. Exploring the history and cultural aspects of the Olympic Games through videos, documentaries, and online resources.

What are some key topics to cover when teaching children about the Olympics?

When teaching children about the Olympics, focus on the following key topics:
1. The history of the Olympic Games, including ancient Greece and the modern Olympic movement.
2. The significance of the Olympic symbols, such as the torch, rings, and medals.
3. The various sports and disciplines featured in the Summer and Winter Olympics.
4. The values and ideals promoted by the Olympic movement, such as fair play, respect, and friendship.
5. Famous Olympic athletes and their inspiring stories.

How can I positively explain the concept of competition?

When explaining competition to your child, emphasize the importance of personal growth, learning, and teamwork. Highlight that winning is not the only goal, but rather participating, trying one’s best, and enjoying the experience are equally important. Also, discuss the importance of sportsmanship and respecting opponents.

How can I teach my child about the Paralympic Games?

Introduce the Paralympic Games as an event parallel to the Olympics that showcases the incredible abilities and determination of athletes with disabilities. Discuss how the Paralympics promotes inclusion, diversity, and equal opportunities in sports. Share inspiring stories of Paralympic athletes and their achievements.

Are there any educational resources available for teaching children about the Olympics?

Yes, many educational resources are available to help teach children about the Olympics. Some popular options include:
1. The International Olympic Committee’s official website (, which offers educational materials, videos, and quizzes.
2. Books, both fiction and non-fiction, specifically written for children about the Olympics.
3. Documentaries and films that explore various aspects of the Olympic Games.
Remember to tailor your approach and resources to your child’s age and interests to make learning about the Olympics an enjoyable and memorable experience.

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






Join our email list to receive the latest updates.

Add your form here