Game on!

Issue: Volume 100, Number 6

Posted: 20 May 2021
Reference #: 1HAKnM

The New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) has developed a range of teaching resources that focus on health and fitness, and offer learning opportunities about the Olympic values and Japanese culture.

Sarah Walker

The NZOC Olympic Education programme (Game On!) provides free online curriculum-based resources, games, and information to inspire and motivate young Kiwis to be active and learn about the Olympic values of friendship, excellence and respect.

The programme features many options for students of all ages, including a cross-curricular 2,000 kilometre ‘journey’ from the south of Japan to Tokyo, and a hauora resource in te reo Māori, featuring interviews with athletes about what is required to thrive and compete on an international stage. 

Global perspectives

An appreciation of the global community in which we live is vital, as is an understanding that our similarities outweigh our differences, says Cindy Gilbert, assistant HOD Humanities at Gisborne Boys’ High School.

“From a secondary school perspective, the NZOC resources give students the opportunity to learn through a variety of means, get a taste of Japanese culture, and explore key Olympic values.

“As well as more obvious literacy, geography and history skills; empathy and the understanding of resilience can be developed when considering, for example, the ‘lottery of birth’ and the hardships the Refugee Team has faced in order to take part in the event,” explains Cindy.

A Refugee Olympic Team was announced by International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, in response to the global refugee crisis that has seen millions of people in the world displaced. There will also be a Refugee Olympic Team for Tokyo 2020.

“These soft skills are important in our everyday interactions with others and can often be overlooked as a trait that requires development,” adds Cindy.

The cross-curricular links within the resources reinforce skills developed within social studies which are vital to literacy and numeracy, she says.

“As there are a variety of resources, students have the ability to complete independent research in an area of particular interest to them within and outside of the classroom. Gisborne Boys’ High School is also very appreciative that an Olympian is visiting the school to further spark student interest and support their learning. It is vital for students in schools such as ours to have role-models to aspire to.”


Health and PE resources provide opportunities to get active and learn about the diverse roles in high-level sport. 

The Health and PE resource, Let’s Go Tokyo, offers opportunities for children at Sherwood Primary School to participate in a mini-Olympics, says Andrew Smart, the school’s health and physical education specialist.

Year 5 and 6 students will work through the resource and organise the mini-Olympics for Year 3 and 4 tamariki in term 2. Andrew sees every class for PE from Year 0–6 at the 460+ pupil school, and he’s passionate about developing leadership skills with senior students. 

“I’m impressed by the movement skills and the fact they get a chance to experience different activities, which leads to some good discussions about why Olympians would use those skills. You’re playing a game, and then you look at what was the main movement skill? Then they can look at why you would use that movement in ‘this scenario’, which could help to develop higher level thinking.”

He says the NZOC resource provides opportunities for children who don’t usually enjoy or excel at physical activities.

“There will be opportunities for kids who are good at being a leader and running things, and some kids might be keener on using technology – taking videos, doing a newspaper. There’s a chance for different learning,” explains Andrew.

To ramp up motivation and excitement ahead of the Olympic season, Olympic ambassador and Commonwealth Games medallist weightlifter Richie Paterson will visit the Year 5 and 6 children. 

Olympic values frame learning

The NZOC resources work well for Howick College, which has run a Sport in Education programme for Year 9–11 students since 2013, and has just added it at Year 12. The programme is cross-curricular, covering English, maths, science, social studies, health and PE through a sports context, says programme director, Emma Jones.

“In 2019, we had a programme we called athlete development – they covered three specific units using the Olympic values. They would understand and then use those values to become better students, better athletes, and beyond.

“We always introduce the value in terms of the Olympics, but then looking at hauora and wellbeing, positivity and keeping grounded. They look at forging strong friendships and having the right people in your team who can support, guide and keep you on track,” says Emma.


Olympian resources

The resources can be found at link)

Let’s Go Tokyo(external link), a health and PE resource that provides Year 5–8 students with rich learning experiences in movement, coaching and leadership as they work towards planning a mini-Olympics event for a younger age group. The unit, which includes nine weeks of learning activities, can be adapted for other age groups. Students will learn to adopt a coaching role and learn about the diverse range of sporting roles required to run the Tokyo Olympic Games. 

My Virtual Mission to the Tokyo Olympics(external link) is a health and PE fitness and movement challenge for primary and intermediate school classes. The competition can also be a cross-curricular resource – the class learn about Japan as they make their way in the 2,000 kilometre journey from the south of Japan to Tokyo. Milestones along the route including the Hiroshima Peace Park, are also well suited for social studies.

The social studies resource(external link) features six modules which include: Japanese culture, Olympic values, Olympic sports, technology and sustainability. The unit has a strong focus on how digital literacy aligns with the new digital learning curriculum. The Olympic values also align strongly with mental health in the health and physical education curriculum.

Tū Ihi Rangi(external link) is a hauora resource in te reo Māori. It includes kōrero with three Olympic and Commonwealth Games athletes and discusses the requirements to thrive and compete at this level, including their identity and mental strength. Tū Ihi Rangi supports rich teaching and learning in hauora within the wāhanga ako of
Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

Team New Zealand Athletes is an interactive digital resource which allows students to research eight Olympic athletes such as Luuka Jones(external link), whitewater kayak medallist at the Rio games. Each chapter focuses on one athlete, with facts about the athlete, action videos, quizzes, advice about training and nutrition, and information about the sport.

Olympic Ambassador Programme(external link). There are 35 Olympic ambassadors across Aotearoa – a mix of active and retired athletes – available to visit schools to talk about their sporting and Olympic experiences and to discuss the place of the Olympic values in their lives.

Secondary cross-curricularresource (external link)contains about 75 different teaching and learning activities for Year 10 and up, with three sections themed on one of the three Olympic values of respect, friendship and excellence. Each section has teaching and learning activities in five learning areas: health and PE, science, mathematics, English, and social studies.

Olympic stories(external link) are the personal and sporting stories of 20 of our most famous Olympians, such as Dame Valerie Adams.

Rio 2016

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 8:15 am, 20 May 2021

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