The summer Olympics are here! And students at Big Blue Marble Academy child care centers have been learning about the games, and the countries participating, all summer.
A focus on global education is at the core of its curriculum. So each summer, the centers’ Passport to Adventure Club transforms into a high-energy, fun-filled full-day camp. These camps take global learning to a deeper level through hands-on, multi-sensory experiences such as virtual field trips, interactive interest-based clubs and world-language learning.
So it only made sense to focus this summer’s program on the Olympic games, said Donna Whittaker, director of education and training.
“The Olympics games are the perfect theme for our summer curriculum because the world comes together to celebrate and compete. At Big Blue Marble Academy, we’re all about teaching our children about the world, the people in it and how we’re more alike than different,” she said.
Bringing the Olympics to kids of all ages
That curriculum includes learning about countries including Jamaica, Spain, Japan and Australia — and of course, the students focused on the United States around the Fourth of July.
Students discover and “train” in the sports in which each country excels, and learn about top athletes from each place.
“No matter what age, all the children are learning about those things at a developmentally appropriate level,” Donna said.
For example, tennis will be one of the sports played at the Olympic games.
Older kids learn about the parts of racket through physics lessons, such as how the tightness of racket strings affects how far a tennis ball can travel when hit. Teachers incorporate bright, yellow tennis balls into the classroom activities of their babies.
Little ones even can participate in activities tied to the Olympics weight-lifting competition. They can flex their own muscles by pumping empty water bottles or sealed bottles with petals or pom-poms inside.
Toddlers are learning that athletes go to the Olympics to win medals. So they did an activity using aluminum foil to mimic the medal’s shininess and colored the foil to represent the different colors of Olympic medals.
One indoor field trip included a lesson about artist Pablo Picasso, who was born in Spain. Students created their own masterpieces by using chalk dipped in water to change the intensity of the colors.
And while studying Japan, school-age children sharpened their fine motor skills by using chopsticks to pick up and separate Fruit Loops cereal by color.
“Even during the summer, we’re still hitting the same learning domains,” Donna said. “It’s not like learning stops during the summer.”
The centers also are incorporating lessons on character into the curriculum, something it does all year long.
The children learn what it means to be a good host and what it takes to host the Olympics, Donna said.
Students also learn about how to be competitive while showing good sportsmanship, as well as about dedication, collaboration, respect and responsibility.
Teachers are encouraged to play Olympic music during drop-offs and pick-ups and to give medals as a reward for hard work and dedication.
The center also gave book suggestions including “A Picture Book of Jesse Owens” by David A. Adler and Robert Casilla.
And Big Blue Marble Academy has found a way to use its Olympics theme to honor its teachers, posting on its Facebook pages about teachers “who bring home the gold every day.”
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