Illustrating the Olympic Ideals

Feb 06, 2022

The Winter Games - Celebrations and Inspirations

Just what we need - something to celebrate as people from around the world come together in the spirit of fun and fair play striving to achieve personal best sporting performances: uniting countries across the globe for a positive purpose.

The Olympic ideals envisage athletes demonstrating very good or perfect performances in their chosen sport, showing friendship and empathy, and displaying respect through inclusivity and non-discriminatory behaviours.

Watching Olympic athletes can inspire our young ones to picture themselves as the best versions of themselves, as champions: the ideal being - striving for excellence (maybe in a winter sport, but maybe as an artist or a writer…) The Olympic Games are about more than just sport. This is the link for the Olympic Agora: where sport meets art and culture. However, let's initially focus on physical endeavours. 

Being Active - Winter Sports

As school gains momentum for this new year - another with COVID-19 an ongoing hurdle to overcome - engaging kids in activities that can motivate them to persist with developing physical as well as social skills will help with overall feelings of wellbeing in troubling times. Creative, artistic activities can also help provide an outlet for expression and clarification of thinking (see suggestions at the end).

Exercising and playing games outdoors has become even more important in an environment where being in enclosed spaces may result in increased risks of catching the virus. Being physically active also helps us feel good. 

Our attitude and approach, as their coaches (teachers), is paramount. Our challenge is to strive to get children to achieve at their highest level, to the best of their ability. How do we help them identify particular strengths? Can they push themselves beyond their comfort zones? How persistent, resilient and positive are they? 

Being an elite athlete is obviously not the dream for everyone. Even being the best in the team is a goal too far for most. But the Olympic ideals are about more than sporting excellence. They are about who we are as people, how we approach life, making the most of our strengths and improving our core values as global citizens.  

Physical Education & Health

The Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education naturally covers the movement component of learning. Developing physical skills, techniques and game strategies are an obvious focus for the school program particularly if you live in a climate similar to those of the Winter Games. However, all sports lend themselves to the development of Olympic values.

In Physical Education lessons, role plays during sporting activities can help raise awareness of social justice and develop student reflection: an encourager, a critic, a rule infringer, a biased referee… Learning through sport has long been a mantra associated with the Olympics. 

If, though, your location cannot provide the snow and ice needed for specific Winter Olympic sports, the inquiry becomes academic rather than actual. Researching the sports is fascinating - what are some new sports for these Games? How do people train if they do not have ready access to the environment required? The movie Cool Runnings is an entertaining example of perseverance in such conditions. Adapting and adopting are vital skills in the pursuit of improvement. 

Building Inner Strength 

The modern Olympic Games were founded on the hope that through sport it is possible to build a peaceful and better world: sport played without discrimination in a spirit of friendship and fair play. The Olympic ideal encourages the development of social and emotional skills, as well as the physical - the whole person. 

Year 3/4

Under Personal, Social and Community Health, in the section called ‘Being healthy, safe and active this particular descriptor stands out:

  • Explore how success, challenge and failure strengthen identities 
    • suggesting ways to respond positively to challenges and failure, such as using self-talk, early help-seeking behaviours, and optimistic thinking.

Above, I’ve selected just one of several elaborations that help give meaning to the descriptor, but all the Elaborations are worth looking at for this inquiry. Developing an ability to use self-talk to improve optimistic thinking is a key to building resilience. 

Year 5/6

Contributing to healthy and active communities’ is also under Personal, Social and Community Health. This descriptor seems particularly relevant:

  • Explore how participation in outdoor activities supports personal and community health and wellbeing and creates connections to natural and built environments. 


The Winter Olympics obviously provide opportunities for transdisciplinary connections: actual physical participation and striving for improvement; the science behind the environmental and climatic conditions needed; the design and technology of the arenas, venues, fields, structures and courses used; the mathematics in measuring performances, scoring and tallies. Throughout, there are opportunities for developing visual art and design skills. Presenting understandings through artistic expressions is easier and more engaging for some students, or at least an option. These are just a few suggestions… 

1 Mapping countries (Geography)

  • Why do you think sites of previous Winter Games were chosen?
  • Where might future Winter Games be held and why?
    • Using an outline or blank map of the continents / countries, identify the position then label each site. Mark your own location.
    • Add a drawing of the flag for each country involved.
  • Investigate the logos used for each Winter Games 
    • identify a pattern in the approaches used 
    • create your own logo for your site of the future.  

2 Artistry of the Olympics (Art)

  • Excerpt from a previous blog
    • In some sports, like figure skating in the Winter Olympics, there are ongoing debates about the value of athleticism versus artistry. If the most difficult athletic rotations are not included the performance seems more like the artistry of dance. Is this a good thing or bad thing? What is the focus for the Olympic Games?
  • Try some of the art activities suggested in this blog. 

3 Sketching Sports (Art)

  • How can you show movement and action in drawings?
  • Using stick figures is a great way to start. In Artventure  search for ‘Olympic’ to find skiers and skaters in action.
  • Artventure has several other lessons on bodies in action - Skateboarder, Rugby, Runner, Jumping, Cricket, Tennis. Obviously some of these are not Winter sports or in the Olympics but the equipment being used can be modified to suit and the landscape created to be relevant.
  • Using these as a guide, try sketching some of the other sports. Follow the ideas in the lessons to draw limbs in action showing movement but perhaps for a skier or skater. Adapt and adopt.
  • Searching for ‘people’ in Artventure may also give you ideas for drawings showing winter games. 

4 Life of an Olympian (English)

  • Select someone in a sport of choice
  • OR someone from your own country or area
    • Where did their Olympic dream start?
    • How did they overcome obstacles?
    • How might personal attributes/attitudes have made a difference?
    • How have they demonstrated the Olympic ideals or values?
    • What do you like about them as a person? as an athlete?
  • Create a cartoon strip either by hand or using an online platform
    • Show this story from dream, through obstacles, to success
    • Use Artventure  lessons like ‘Facial Expressions’, ‘Characters’ and 'Tips' as guides
    • Think - every picture tells a story 

Contrary to Olympic values? (Health)

  • Consideration of issues or incidents in previous Olympic Games can be an emphasis for older students: 
    • When and why were there boycotts? 
    • How did policies on apartheid affect the Games? 
    • In what ways has the use of drugs impacted on the Games?
  • Create posters / graphic design presentations to promote excellence, friendship and respect. Display in classroom or home. 
    • What do these values LOOK like? How can they be represented?
    • Find other visual examples of values.

Being like an Olympian 

Olympians have a social responsibility setting a good example as citizens representing their country and their chosen sport while the world watches on. These expectations are higher for olympians than just elite athletes. Encouraging our children to strive to be better, like the Olympians, can give purpose and context to their behaviours. Who would they choose as a role model and why? How does this person illustrate the Olympic ideals? What can we learn from them?  

Create a wall of champions with each child drawing themselves as this Olympian.

Physical effort can release ‘happy hormones’ and create a feeling of pure joy when goals are achieved - big or small. As we witness the skills and talents of the Olympians, we marvel at their dedication, persistence and resilience to be able to perform with such magnificence. Our children can dream to emulate this. But just to try harder with our own chosen activities, improve our own personal bests, or be the best we can be in our sport, are goals that all Olympians started with. Let’s get behind our Olympians as they ski and skate and slide, and share in their elation as they achieve at this elite level.

Teacher and Artventure Blogger