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Teacher Feature

Around the World in 17 Days

The 2002 Winter Olympics provide a great opportunity for you to take advantage of your students' natural interests in sports while introducing them to a bit of geography at the same time!


As the 2002 Winter Olympics begin (the opening ceremony is scheduled for February 8, 2002), get your students involved by posting a large map of the world on a bulletin board that they all can reach.  Tell your students that they are going to be keeping track of the winners of each Olympic event.

On each school day of the Olympic games (they run for 17 days), assign one or two of your students ("reporters") the job of finding the results of the previous day's events either by using the Internet or by reviewing a newspaper.  As soon as the reporters get into the classroom in the morning, have them record their findings on the 2002 Winter Olympics Record sheet.  At an appropriate point each morning, gather all your students around the map and have the researchers come to the front for a reporting session.

Have each reporter select two of the events (this can be adjusted depending on time available) and report to the class which countries placed in those events.  Ask all your students whether they know where each country is located.  If no one knows about a particular country, tell your whole class the country's continent and ask your reporters to try to locate the country on the map.  Whoever locates the country will then mark it with a color-coded toothpick or straight pin.  The colors represent the different medals awarded (for example, red = gold medal, blue = silver medal, green = bronze medal).  Before the end of the day (perhaps during center time), allow the reporters to locate the remaining countries on the map and mark them with the appropriate pins or toothpicks.


  • To extend this activity, offer extra credit to any students who research the language, climate, and name of the currency used in the winning countries
  • At the end of the first week, gather your class around the map to see which countries have placed in the most events.  Have your students make predictions as to which continent will earn the most Olympic medals.  Will countries/continents with colder climates earn more medals than countries/continents with warmer climates?  At another point prior to the end of the games, have your students review their predictions and see if any they would like to make any changes based on medals that have been awarded so far.
  • Make a graphing center out of this event.  Have each student select a participating country.  On graph paper, have the student develop either a pictograph or a bar graph to show the number of gold, silver, and bronze medals awarded to that country.



The project described above reflects some of the national standards of learning as defined by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), the National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE), and the International Society for Technology in Education.  These standards are listed below:

Social Studies Standards

People, Places, and Environment:  Students will explore the locations of countries around the world in connection with the 2002 Winter Olympic games.

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