Host an Olympic Birthday Party!

Hi and welcome back to Attention-ology for K – 5 Teachers!

Is there anything more attention-getting than an invitation to a birthday party? Maybe, but…tell your kids that they’re invited to a birthday party for the Olympic Games and…they’ll be all eyes and ears on you!

You don’t even need to send invitations. Make kids guess the party theme by setting a sports balloon on your desk, like the one in my blog pic below.

Which ball in this balloon won’t be bounced in an Olympic game?

Surprise them on party day or post a giant invitation on a bulletin board or easel a day or two ahead of the date.


Plan your party basics:

DATE: A day between today and August 12, the final day of the 2012 Olympics.

TIME: Convenient to you, appropriate for your group.

PLACE: Outdoors, if you want the party to include outdoor games. Indoors, if the weather doesn’t cooperate or you plan to turn the Olympic celebration into a poetry writing party, like I’ll be doing next week in a year-round school.

GIVEN FOR: Another opportunity to use tools and tricks to catch and keep kids’ attention, for the purpose of helping them learn while having fun.

PARTY THEME: 108 + 8 and Still Great. Happy Birthday, Olympics! Note that the party theme includes a math activity. Post your invitation like this and ask your students to do the math. The answer, of course: 2012 marks the 116th Olympic Games.

Tie ribbons with your country’s flag colors to pretend gold medals to make Olympic Party favors.

Run with as many instructional options as you want to plan for your party, using this theme.


* Teach that the five Olympic rings stand for the five continents of Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceana, all participating in the games.

* Teach that the colors of the rings – blue, yellow, black, green, red, on a white field, represent the flags of countries with athletes at the games. Every country’s flag includes at  least one of the Olympic ring colors.

* Don’t forget to include the Summer Olympic Mascots. See my Mid-Week Focus post from 07/25/12  for entertaining facts about the mascots.

For you to know and me to show, hosting an Olympic Birthday Party can be  (to use a New York City expression) a piece of cake!

MENU: Serving some kind of edible treat is a must-do for a birthday party, but make this easy to manage. If your party will be outdoors, water or some other cool beverage – also a must.

PARTY DECORATIONS: Kids who love sports enjoy playing with toys like the colorful sports equipment in my blog pic below.

“Let the games begin!”

Working with a small budget, and who isn’t? Buy a few sports toys at a dollar store and place them on your main party table.

Hang up posters of popular sports stars from your country, especially athletes at this year’s London games, on a wall behind your main party table if you’ll be indoors.

Easiest of all…set out Happy Birthday balloons, signs, and if you can afford it, inexpensive party hats for the kids.

PARTY PLAN: You know your students best; plan a short party program that plays into your current curriculum, if school’s in session for you, or your camp or other program. Use the party outlines below to get started.

  • Outdoor Olympic Birthday Party – Welcome – Guessing game on Olympics history (gather from my blogs and other online resources) – Time for sports play (have areas set up for sports of your choice) – Refreshments – Distribution of party favors – Close party

When I visit a group of fourth graders next week, here’s what I plan:

  • Indoor Olympic Birthday Party – Welcome and introduction – Guessing game on Olympic history – Read a sports poem (I’ll read one that I’ve written) – Invite students to “warm up for writing” by pretending to shoot some hoops from their seats – Distribute pre-formatted pages for students to use in writing a Cinquain poem (five lines with focus, description, action, feeling) about their favorite Olympic sport – Sing Happy Birthday to the Olympics – Distribute party favors – Close party

The English language Happy Birthday song dates back to the mid-nineteenth century, not too long before the first modern Olympic games were held (in Athens, Greece).

Include this bit of history at your Olympic Birthday party (age-appropriate for students in grades 3 – 5) if you sing Happy Birthday in English.

Starting early, you have to aim high to win!

If you work with younger kids, like the aspiring Olympian in my blog pic here, you can turn the English Happy Birthday song into an attention-ology tool that will trick kids into focus mode for days to come, well after the 2012 Olympics in London. Teach these new lyrics. I wrote them to the old familiar tune…

Happy listening to you, (hands on ears)

Happy looking to you, (hands like eye goggles)

When you focus on your lesson (clap on focus)

You learn more to help you! (point to kids)

Hope that your Olympic birthday party is a smash hit. Bet your kids will love it, and you for hosting it.

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in instructional settings!

Talk with you next Monday – Attention-ology for K – 5 Teachers.

Look for Mid-Week Focus on Wednesday.

Barbara The Lovable Poet


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