I have some friends who’ve jettisoned their usual homeschool lessons for the past month in favor of an in-depth Olympic-themed unit study. In the process, they’ve used the Olympics as a portal for learning in all content areas – language arts, science, history, geography, health, and even math, art, and music. But one needn’t be a homeschooler – or a homeschooler who dropped everything else in February – to use the Olympics in this way.
Because the Olympics showcases athletes from many countries, it presents a perfect opportunity to introduce our kids to other nations and people groups with – for Christians – a special emphasis on the missional mind of our God.
So here’s an assignment for you: Even if you haven’t watched any events up till now, set aside Sundaynight, February 25 – beginning at 8PM EST – as family time, and watch the closing ceremony together. Pray together first, that God would show you which particular nations He would like your family to be mindful of this year. Then, as the ceremony starts and you enjoy the pomp and celebration, ask each family member to make note of which flags and teams stand out, and keep a running tally, no matter how long. Choose to trust that the countries which your kids and you notice are the ones the Lord has for your family, and then use that list for weekly or monthly family study.
Your activities can be as simple or elaborate as you’d like. Perhaps you merely use a wall map or atlas and a resource like Operation World or You Can Change the World to read about and pray over the needs in one country once a week or once a month; even “just” that will begin to awaken your kids’ minds and hearts to the world and God’s plan for it. Or maybe you and your kids love to cook so you work together to research and then make a meal related to each country when you have a devotional time.
You could extend activities throughout the week by gathering picture books for each country in turn – most libraries have a good selection for many countries – to use as daily read-alouds with your young children. You could also research country-specific crafts and projects. And – no matter where they attend school – you might encourage older kids to find related books to use with literature assignments and during free-reading time. Additionally, as your school-aged children and teens get various assignments through the year – for research and writing, in particular – suggest using the Olympic country list for topic ideas.
When it comes to using an event like the Olympics for learning about the world, the sky’s the limit. Use the list you create during the closing ceremony all throughout the year to take it further in whatever ways strike you as you go. A year from now, you’ll all know a lot more about several countries and their people than you do today. And that can only be a good thing.