Olympics School–Day Thirteen

Like all good things, today the Olympics had to come to an end. We had to sneak in one last day of Olympics school before it was all over!

We started by making a fun snack/craft. Just as we started Olympics school with a torch craft, today we ended with one, to symbolize the passing of the torch to the next Olympic city, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I thought an edible craft would be a fun change, so we dipped pretzel rods in melted white chocolate and sprinkled with yellow sugar. (I considered red and/or orange, as well–orange was my first choice, but I couldn’t find that at Wal-Mart, so yellow it was!). Chocolate covered pretzels are always delicious, and Olympic-themed ones even more so!

Turkey and Bunny had one last written assignment–a short report on what they’ve learned about England. They covered things such as cities, popular foods, common plants and animals, and native dress (basically, fancy hats!). It was fun to see which elements of British culture really stuck with them…and if we had had a landmark section in the report, they may never have finished it, they’ve enjoyed learning about all of the famous places in England so much!

We also did “medal” math one last time. In addition to adding up the medals on our chart, we compared the total medals of each country this year to their medal totals in the Beijing Olympics, and tracked their gains and losses. We also added up all of the medals in the Commonwealth Realms, and decided that the Queen, as head of the Commonwealth, wins the Olympics!

And, since “Bolting” was so much fun, we tried doing the “Mobot,” too!

Prior to the Closing Ceremonies, we had an English meal for dinner…sausage rolls for the main course…

and a traditional English trifle for dessert!

I’m sad to see our “London Summer” come to an end…between the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics, we’ve had so much British fun! Maybe we’ll just have to have an English Christmas…

Today’s Passport Stamps: English Cuisine and Citius-Altius-Fortius

Olympics School–Day Twelve

We haven’t done any schoolwork since Monday, because we’ve been too busy watching the Olympics to do anything else. But since the Olympics are starting to wind down (and NBC has reduced their Olympic coverage in the afternoon), we had a day of review, plus one more fun craft.

We started by looking through DK Eyewitness: Olympics. The children have already looked through this book (several times), since we started Olympics School, but since it gives such a good overview of everything related to the Olympics, both ancient and modern, it provided an excellent way to review what we’ve learned. I think we even managed to pick up a new fact or two!

We also revisited the London 2012 pictograms. Now that we’re more familiar with some of the more obscure sports, it was fun to go through the list, and guess what they all were again. After we did that, I had the children each draw six pictograms of their own on index cards I had cut in half. It was easy to tell what their favorite events were based on which sports they chose to portray. They did a really good job–it was easy to tell which sports they were representing in their pictograms, and that was the whole point of the activity, so it was a success!

We also did one last craft. We’ve been watching rhythmic gymnastics the last two days, and it made me remember how much I always wanted one of those ribbons when I was a little girl. I figured it couldn’t be too hard to come up with something similar, and after a quick trip to Hobby Lobby, we were ready to get to work. I got some 18 inch dowel rods, probably a little thicker than necessary, but I wanted them to have a good surface for decorating. After the children used markers to personalize the sticks, I attached some curling ribbon (not as wide as I would have preferred–I wanted to get the standard two-inch ribbon like the gymnasts actually use, but it was the prettiest ribbon I could find that didn’t have wired edges, which wouldn’t have worked), to each, using a thinner piece of ribbon and a clear hair elastic. Super easy, and the children have enjoyed twirling their ribbons and doing tricks…and they were even nice enough to let me have a turn!

I have a few activities left for Sunday and the Closing Ceremonies, and then, like the Olympics, our Olympics School will officially come to an end, and we’ll take a week off before the “official” first day of the new school year!

Today’s Passport Stamps: Field Hockey Pictogram and Ribbon

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

Olympics School–Day Ten

Today we finished reading Hour of the Olympics and its companion “Fact Tracker.” After we were done, we then talked about the reinvention of the Olympics in modern times…the who, when, and what of the games. This served as a good review of a lot of the things we’ve learned during the last two weeks, and even introduced a few new facts.

Since we learned all about London yesterday, and spent a lot of time looking at a map of London, today we went back to the geography of the United Kingdom. I had the children color the different parts of the Kingdom on a map I had printed. It was fun to look at how the different parts of Great Britain relate to each other, especially since we’ve some events in the outlying areas, such as football in Cardiff.

We also made medals for our family Olympics, which we’ll be holding on Monday. Four years ago, we made glitter medals, so this time, I decided to do something different (and more permanent). We made salt dough medals, which we were able to decorate and paint, and after the Olympics, we will also be able to keep them as ornaments for the Christmas tree. I love a dual-purpose craft! The dough was easy to make: 1 cup salt, 1 cup flour, and 3/4 cup water mixed together and kneaded until a dough forms…you could even throw some glitter in the dough if you desire. Roll it out, cut with biscuit cutters, make a hole with a straw for the cord, and decorate. We used toothpicks to etch designs, but you could also press designs into them, or leave them plain. Then, bake at 210 degrees for a few hours, until dry. Finish up with paint…we did all of ours in gold; of course you could also do silver and bronze. If you chose not to decorate before baking, you could decorate with paints at this point.

Today’s Passport Stamp: Olympic Medal

Olympics School–Day Nine

Today we planned a trip to London. A few days ago, I gave Turkey and Bunny an Eyewitness Travel Guide to London, and told them to look through it, and choose places that they’d like to visit. Today, we got out a map of London (included in the travel guide), and marked the different places they had chosen, plus a few I threw in for myself.

It was interesting to see what places they wanted to visit. Turkey was particularly interested in the London Eye, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Chinatown, while Bunny was very focused on seeing many of the different gardens and parks in London, as well as the Victoria and Albert Museum. Of course, we all wanted to see Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard, the Tower of London and the Crown Jewels, the Tower Bridge, the Museum of London, and the National Gallery. I threw in Harrods, too, because if I’m going to London, I’m going to see their big, fancy department store! We also thought a day trip to see Windsor Castle would be a must, and maybe a visit to Hampton Court Palace, too.

After planning our trip, I gave Turkey and Bunny the task of writing a story about their imagined trip. Bunny decided to do one better, and write a letter home from London. I’m both embarrassed that I didn’t think of that myself, because it’s a fantastic idea, and proud of Bunny for coming up with it, because it was very creative of her. I was also very impressed with her letter, so I’ll share it:

Dear Family,
I have seen much in London. Mother, I love the Tower of London. The Crown Jewels are sooo beautiful! The crowns there were lovely! Sigh. I wish you could see them too, those jewels and crowns. Even though I remain in London, I still love you. Father, brothers, and sisters, you are all very dear to me.
Your Faithful and Loving Daughter,

In keeping with our London theme, we colored some London pictures (including a double-decker bus), and we also read Katie in London. I highly recommend this book for introducing children to some of London’s famous landmarks. I bought this book sight unseen, as our library didn’t have it, and there wasn’t even a preview available on Amazon. I’m really glad I did, though…in addition to being educational, it’s a very cute story, and one I know we’ll be reading again and again!

Today’s Passport Stamp: “London Air”

Olympics School–Day Eight

Today we turned our attention to Ancient Greece and the Olympics, especially as we continued to read Hour of the Olympics and the companion “Fact Tracker.” After learning some more about the ancient games, what contests were held, and who participated, Turkey and Bunny created Venn diagrams to show the similarities and differences between the Ancient and Modern Olympic games. We were pretty surprised at how many similarities there are, right down to both having parades at an Opening Ceremonies (even if the parades were a little different).

To celebrate the spirit of the Ancient Olympics, the children made their own “olive leaf” crowns. This was a super easy craft…I had leaf patterns in a book, but they’re really not necessary. The children got creative with using several different shades of green to decorate their wreaths.

We also did a little Olympic math today. Now that there are a decent number of medals on our medal chart, I had Turkey and Bunny add up the gold, silver, and bronze medals, and then add those totals as well. We also noted the difference between total gold, silver, and bronze, (interestingly, the countries we chose have more gold medals in total than anything else). As it’s still early in the games, this was a fairly easy task for Turkey and Bunny, but it was good practice in addition and subtraction, and allowed me to make sure their basic math skills haven’t gotten rusty over the summer. We’ll continue to repeat this exercise as the medal count grows…I’m curious to see how the ratios of gold, silver, and bronze pan out in the end!

Today’s Passport Stamp: The Parthenon

Olympics School–Day Seven

Today was another big day in Olympics school! The main event was a tea party. The purpose of this was two-fold: to enjoy an aspect of English culture; and to practice our table manners. I’ve discovered that the children actually have very nice table manners in this type of situation…I just can’t figure out why they don’t use them all the time!

We also read the first few chapters of Hour of the Olympics. This is a cute book (one in the “Magic Tree House” series), which sees the two main characters, Jack and Annie, going back to Ancient Greece during the original Olympics in search of a book. Along the way, they meet Plato, the wise man they were tasked to find.

The children wanted me to keep reading Jack and Annie’s story until it was done. I wanted to make sure we also had time to read from the Magic Tree House Ancient Greece and the Olympics Fact Tracker, (a companion to the above book) as well, though, so we’re splitting both books up over the course of three days.

To finish up our third Olympic venue, which focuses on athletes and sports, Turkey and Bunny had the task of researching an Olympic athlete. Not surprisingly, Turkey chose Michael Phelps:

Also not surprisingly, Bunny picked Jordyn Wieber:

Today’s Passport Stamps: Teapot and Olympic Venue Three–The Olympic Athlete and Olympic Sports

An Olympic Tea Party

Today we had our grandest afternoon tea to date, which is befitting an occasion like the London 2012 Olympics. In addition to trying a new flavor of tea (Vanilla Chai), we had a mixture of old favorites and new treats.


The old stand-by, cucumber sandwiches:

And a new savory finger sandwich–crab salad. Surprisingly popular with everyone!

Crumpets with red currant jelly (OK, they were actually English muffins, but they looked rather like crumpets!):

Chocolate chips scones and Devonshire cream:

Lemon meltaways (this recipe is definitely going in my permanent collection!):

Viennese chocolate sables, in letter shapes…”O” for the Olympics, and “E” for England (and Queen Elizabeth!):

And some of the most beautiful fresh strawberries I’ve ever seen!

I’m not sure how I can top this tea party. I do think I’ll try, though…I’m thinking a Christmas tea party might be nice in December!

Olympics School–Day Six

Today was the biggest craft day of our Olympic unit–scrunchy tissue paper Union flags. It was a lot of fun to make them, but also time-consuming, so we didn’t do a whole lot else today!

The detail on the flags is awesome…it almost looks like they’re made out of little flowers. Alternatively, Moose said he thought they looked like one of the cakes I make, and he’s not too far off…they did have a look similar to a cake decorated with a star tip.

I was very happy with how these turned out, and the children were pretty proud of themselves, too.

We did find time to read one book–How to Train with a T. Rex and Win Eight Gold Medals, by Michael Phelps. Although this book is written for young children, Turkey and Bunny got a kick out of it, too. We learned things like how many miles Michael Phelps swam in practice over the course of six years (12,480), how many pounds he leg-presses in a session (18,000 or the equivalent of a New York City subway car), and how many calories he consumes in a day (10,000!). The children loved learning these fun facts, and I have to admit, I found them to be pretty interesting, too!

Today’s Passport Stamp: Union Flag Olympic Mascots