Summer School 2021

It seemed like the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics would never get here, and now they’ve already come and gone. Here’s a look back at our Japan-themed summer school.

We visited Origami in the Garden at the Missouri Botanical several times over the summer. The large-scale art installation was the perfect field trip to coincide with Tokyo 2020 (and was also postponed from last summer).

We also visited the Olympic Spectacular in St. Louis at Francis Field, home of the 1904 Summer Games:

I made a few fun treats for the Olympics…Olympics torches (white chocolate covered pretzels) and Team USA CHEERios treats.

We did a lot of cooking and tried a lot of Japanese foods. I worked really hard to find things we hadn’t had before, and used a variety of cooking methods and unfamiliar ingredients. We tried:

  • Spicy Ramen/Udon
  • Pork Gyoza
  • Coffee Jelly
  • Okonomiyaki
  • Matcha Mochi Cake
  • Vegetable Tempura
  • Potato Korokke
  • Fluffy Japanese Cheesecake
  • Kani Cream Korokke
  • Chicken Katsu Sandwich
  • Matcha Green Tea Cookies
  • Oyakodon

We were supposed to go out to a Japanese restaurant this summer, but COVID-19, so we got a party platter of sushi instead:

I’ve been holding on to the Lego Architecture Tokyo skyline since last year, and we finally got to build it!

Our American Girl dolls got into the Olympic spirit:

In between watching as much of the Olympics as we could, we also did some more traditional school work. We learned about Japanese history and culture, as well as the history of the Olympics. We read a lot of books…some I read out loud, and some were book basket choices. We also watched a selection of Olympic documentaries:

  • FirstLondon 2012
  • The Everlasting FlameBeijing 2008
  • Atlanta’s Olympic GloryAtlanta 1996
  • 16 Days of GloryLos Angeles 1984
  • Athens 2004: Stories of Olympic Glory
  • Seoul 1988

And we also did several crafts, including origami, paper lanterns, Koinobori (Japanese carp windsocks), pipe cleaner and tissue paper cherry blossom branches, and medals (of course!):

I’ve been holding on to Ticket to Ride: Japan since last year, and we finally had a chance to play! I really enjoyed the new game mechanics introduced in this edition, and it was fun to get to know the geography of the area a little bit better.

We updated our medal chart every evening…here’s a look at the final results…we were very excited that the US won the gold medal race and had the most medals overall!

And, better late than never, our Family Olympics, which was delayed due to heat. We only had four events this year (frisbee throw, broad jump, soccer kicks, and a running race), thanks to time constraints and a lack of basketball hoops on the backboards we normally use. Technically, Turkey came in first, but since we participate as a family, we all won gold!

This summer school was a long time coming. I think we all still have mixed feelings about the fact that the Olympics were held at this time, but we had to just accept that that was out of our control, and embrace the Olympics as we usually do. It’s always hard to say goodbye when they extinguish the flame, but the Winter Olympics are less than six months away, and we only have to wait three more years for Paris 2024!

Olympics School–Day Four

The most highly anticipated event in any Olympics-year summer school is our quadrennial Markel Family Olympic Games. This year’s event was especially fun because Chickadee was able to participate…although her short little legs prevented her from coming in first!

Of course there were races:


And other familiar events like broad jump, soccer kicks, goal defense, our versions of shot put and discus, and a basketball competition (which I won, by the way).



While Turkey technically had the most points at the end of the competition, we were competing as Team Markel, so we all won gold at the medal ceremony!


And just like the athletes we’ve been watching in Rio, the competitors’ inner ham came out!

I suppose this might have been the last time we all compete together like this…by the time we have a 17-year-old and a 16-year-old in the house, they may be too busy or too cool to participate. Hopefully this was a family Olympics that we will all remember!

Olympics School–Day Eleven–Family Olympics

Today we held our quadrennial Markel Family Olympics. We went over to the local junior high school, where we could make use of basketball goals and a soccer field. The children competed in nine different events. Turkey was the all-around champion, but in the end, all of Team Markel was victorious!


Soccer Kicks:

Spoon Race:


Broad Jump:

“Shot Put”:


Crab-Walk Race:


The Medal Ceremony:

Turkey and Bunny also had one written assignment today–a report on an Olympic sport. Bunny had no problem deciding which sport she was going to write about…there was no choice but gymnastics. Turkey had a more difficult time, as he’s found out that there are a lot of interesting sports out there about which he previously didn’t know, like fencing and water polo. In the end, however, he chose to write about swimming, in large part due to the popularity of Michael Phelps.

Today’s Passport Stamp: Olympic Venue Four–The Olympic Experience in Your School