Let the games begin

Written by: HTU | Published:

With London 2012 just around the corner, Tom Donohoe tells us how his school is using the Olympics to inspire pupils and staff

The greatest show on earth is coming to this country in 2012 and will probably not return to the UK this century. In Hampshire, the idea is to use the inspiration of the London Olympics to increase participation by children in sport. That is why we, at Anton Junior School in Andover, agreed to produce a planning pack to be used by schools to celebrate the 2012 Olympic Games.

We have a reputation as a sporty school and one of my staff is a PE Advanced Skills Teacher for the local authority, so when we got the opportunity to lead on this initiative we were very keen to do so. Six months later and after a lot of hard work, my teachers have produced a pack that will definitely support many other schools in commemorating the games and it is available completely free.

Incredible stories

Right from the outset of our planning process we became fascinated by the incredible stories that could be used to enthuse and inspire youngsters to increase their awareness and understanding of the Olympics. Our starting point was the seven Olympic and Paralympic values and having spent some time discussing each of these as a staff, we decided to allocate each primary year group a value as their overarching theme:

- Year R: Friendship.
- Year 1: Courage.
- Year 2: Determination.
- Year 3: Respect.
- Year 4: Equality.
- Year 5: Excellence.
- Year 6: Inspiration.

We took each of these values and researched Olympic stories that related to the theme and then planned activities for the children to participate in. We then made all the resource sheets that teachers and pupils would need and finally trialled and amended these activities during our pilot week last summer. We have written a two week planning unit for each of the seven primary year groups that would enable teachers to focus on the Olympics for a full fortnight and that is how we plan to use it. As a school, we have identified a two week block this summer when the whole school is going to focus totally on the Olympics. An alternative though, would be to use the lessons and resources we have planned by teaching one lesson per week over 10 or even 20 weeks leading up to the summer. The resources are flexible so that schools can use the approach that suits them best. The important thing is that this is a resource written for teachers by teachers.

To give you a glimpse of some of the activities that are in our planning, I will briefly highlight one or two points from each year group. To see the full picture please visit our school website.

Olympic values

Reception – Friendship: The children will learn why friendship is an important value and how they can share friendship in their lives. Activities include redesigning the Olympic rings, printing t-shirts with an original Olympic logo, visiting a local sports club, packing a suitcase for a trip to London, making an Olympic stadium and designing a new ice skating outfit.

Year 1 – Courage: The pupils will focus on courage and how they can show courage themselves. Pupils will develop an understanding of how courage has been demonstrated by certain athletes and why it is important to their story. They will be given the opportunity to watch video clips of Ellie Simmonds and Oscar Pistorius competing, as well as using their ICT skills to film adverts which are designed to look for the next Olympian.

Year 2 – Determination: The children will consider how they can show determination. Activities include re-creating an Olympic stadium, taking part in a conscience alley in which children try to persuade Alice Coachman that she should or should not compete, making finger puppets to tell a story about determination, writing a recipe for success and taking part in team challenges.

Year 3 – Respect: Pupils will learn why respect is an important value and how they can show respect in their lives. Activities include creating a hero wall and making friendship bracelets. In addition to this, children will be given the opportunity to use their ICT skills to create a race photo storyboard, research information for a factfile and film performances of their respect poems.

Year 4 – Equality: Pupils will develop an understanding of how certain athletes have strived for equality and why it was important to their story. Activities include taking part in trust activities in pairs, trying out Paralympic sports, making clay mascots, writing a poem about dreams and designing their own flag.

Year 5 – Excellence: Children will develop an understanding of how athletes have demonstrated excellence. Activities include competing in a mini Olympic Games, making “excellence” toolkits, creating a comic strip about an excellent athlete and taking part in a class debate about which sportsperson personifies excellence the best.

Year 6 – Inspiration: The children will learn why inspiration is an important Olympic value and will focus on the stories of famous Olympians and the difficulties they have overcome in their lives. Activities include having a go at Paralympic sports, taking part in a debate about women in sport, writing poems and making a time capsule.

Further information

As headteacher at Anton Junior School I would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the hard work of my staff in producing this comprehensive and detailed resource pack that is available free to any school or individual teacher who would like to use it. It has been produced as a result of a team effort, but I would like to thank and acknowledge the hard work of my wonderful Advanced Skills Teacher, Jodie Williams, who led us in this project. To find out more and download the resources visit www.antonjuniorschool.com

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