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Teaching Activity: Designing Olympic Medals

PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Medals

PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Medals [via Korea.net / Korean Culture and Information Service / accessed through Wikimedia Commons]

Did you know that the design of the Olympic medals changes with each Olympics? The designs are meant to showcase the culture and traditions of the host country. For example, the design for the front of this year’s PyeongChang medals has the Olympic rings set on a background that is meant to look like the texture of tree trunks, symbolizing history and determination. The side and back of the medals incorporate the Korean alphabet, and the ribbons are made of a traditional Korean fabric known as gapsa.[1]

Help your students get excited about the PyeongChang Olympics with the following teaching activity from CultureGrams. This activity will help students think critically about what goes into choosing the design of Olympic medals. Though the activity is geared for grades 6-8, it can easily be adjusted to suit any grade level. You can also find additional teaching activities about the Olympics on CultureGrams.

Designing Olympic Medals

Grade level

6–8

 Objective

Students will design an Olympic medal based on what they learn about the culture of a country.

 Common Core State Standards Initiative

Anchor Standards for Reading: ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

  • Literacy in History/Social Studies (Grades 6–8): ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.

Anchor Standards for Reading: ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

  • Literacy in History/Social Studies (Grades 6–8): ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

Anchor Standards for Reading: ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

  • Literacy in History/Social Studies (Grades 6–8): ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.7 Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.

Anchor Standards for Reading: ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

  • Literacy in History/Social Studies (Grades 6–8): ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.8 Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.

Anchor Standards for Reading: ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

Time requirement

Preparation: 15 minutes

In-class: 60 minutes

Materials

CultureGrams World Edition

Art materials—construction paper, scissors, glue, pens, etc.

Instructions

  1. Ask each student to choose a country and read its CultureGrams report. Students should make note of things that set the country apart and that citizens of the country would be especially proud of.
  2. Explain to the students that the design of the Olympic medals combines the history of the Olympic Games with the culture of the host country. Each host country designs the medal that hundreds of athletes will compete for that year. Have students look at the design and background information for medals from some past Winter or Summer Olympic Games. Hold a class discussion about which elements of culture the designs incorporate and why.
  3. Ask students to design an Olympic medal for the country they researched. They must incorporate aspects of the country’s culture as well as images from ancient Greek culture and the history of the Olympic Games. You may wish to determine the format (paper, poster, digital design, etc.) or leave it open to the students.
  4. In small groups or in front of the class, have students explain why they chose to include each element of their medal.

Extension activity

Each country that hosts the Olympics designs a logo for the games. The logo may feature a symbol of the country or it may simply try to capture the excitement of the games. While each country adds their own elements to the logo, almost all logos incorporate the Olympic rings, one of the most recognizable symbols of the games. Have the students research past Olympic logos on the Internet and choose the one they think reflects the best blend of Olympic history and the host country’s culture, according to that country’s CultureGrams report. Students should be prepared to defend their choices with specific details.

Visit CultureGrams to find more teaching activities!

  1. “PyeongChang 2018 Medals.” International Olympic Committee, www.olympic.org/pyeongchang-2018-medals.

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