Fletcher School Fourth-Graders Become Olympians

Fletcher Elementary School fourth graders Cameron Emming and Gabriella Knight competed in a hockey skills challenge during their “Olympic Games.”

Fletcher Elementary School fourth graders “Olympians” paraded into the gymnasium holding banners announcing their “country” as part of the Opening Ceremonies for their Olympic Games. Physical Education teachers, Greg Jackson and Ardelle Rambacher, partnered with Library Media Specialist Brenda Chandler, Music Teacher Mary Crandall and Art Teacher Darryl Mallanda to create an interdisciplinary Olympic Games.

“This was a great collaborative unit,” said Mr. Jackson. “The students learned a lot about different countries and the Winter Olympics including what sports the athletes compete in. Several parents told me their kids went home and watched the events on TV and then described how they did them during physical education class. One student even got in a box and told his mom he was on the bobsled team. It was a fun and exciting unit for all involved.”

The fourth grade was teamed up into four countries (USA, Canada, Sweden and Korea). In Physical Education class, students competed in different Winter Olympic events such as bobsled, skeleton, speed skating, ski jumping, biathlon, hockey and curling. The different classes competed over two weeks compiling gold, silver and bronze medals for their finishes. The teachers discussed, and showed videos, of how the real event is played in the Olympics and then modified each event for class.

In art, each team reviewed symbols and icons for their countries and discussed ways to promote the qualities and aspects of their countries in a visual form. They created posters and worked together to create the design elements. Some teams researched deeper through online resources into certain aspects, icons and symbols of their country with Mr. Mallanda’s assistance.

“This was a great experience for students to share ideas and develop ways to plan and present a product in visual form,” said Mr. Mallanda. “It encouraged high levels of teamwork, creativity and problem solving.”

During music class, students studied the official music of the Olympic Games as well as the National Anthems of the four countries that “competed.” Mrs. Crandall told students about the composer of the Olympic Fanfare and Theme by John Williams. Students were excited to learn that he is also one of America’s most prolific composers of so many famous movie soundtracks. Next, they learned about the other three country’s National Anthems. Students also studied the dramatic story behind the United State’s own anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. After each lesson, students had their own competitions in the music room between teams to be the first to answer questions about the history of the Star Spangled Banner. Mrs. Crandall also supplied the music for the Olympic Games in the gym.

Library Media Specialist Brenda Chandler helped students complete flow charts and create a project about each country. Each class was assigned one country to research. Within each class, students were divided into groups to learn more specifically about their country’s food, traditional clothing, landscape, famous landmarks, popular sports, animals and how to say phrases in their language. Students used a website, “Culturegrams,” to research their information. They also created three-dimensional dioramas that highlighted the various aspects of their country.

“This project gave them skills with research, team work and creativity,” said Mrs. Chandler. “The students had a great time doing this hands-on project.”

For the culminating activity, the teachers gathered fourth grade classes in the gym. After the Opening Ceremony, physical education teachers selected the top finishers from each class to compete against each other in four events to determine the Champion or Gold medalist of each event. All other students cheered, supported and enjoyed watching teammates, classmates and friends compete and have fun.