With the 2012 Olympics coming up in July, we’ll be doing a series of activities celebrating and honoring Olympic history and tradition.
A phenomenal start to this journey was reading Usborne’s book, The Story of the Olympics by Minna Lacey. The age range on this book begins at 9 years old but I read it aloud and along with my preschooler. The illustrations are lively and will catch your preschoolers attention. The language is fairly simple too. Quite frankly I learned a lot from this book and you probably will too!
For example, did you know, according to legend and at least to this book, that women were able to compete in the first Olympics? They had a separate festival but they were able to participate in the games. This idea is pretty amazing given that at the first modern Olympics in 1896 women were not allowed to participate because officials, specifically the founder of the modern Olympics Baron Pierre de Coubertin, felt ‘that their inclusion would be “impractical, uninteresting, unaesthetic, and incorrect.”‘
How about that all athletes competed naked to show off their muscular bodies? They also rubbed their bodies with olive oil (and often sand) before competition.
Or that today’s marathon distance of 26.1 miles was not the original “marathon” distance? The distance was altered in 1908 when King Edward VII and Queen Alexandria wished to watch the start from Windsor Castle. The distance remained 26.1 miles (or 42.195 km) ever since those Olympic Games.
I may not agree with everything in which de Coubertin believed but he was passionate about the Olympics and about competition. I love this quote, the Olympic creed, written by him:
“The important thing about the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle…”
– London Olympics, 1908
Here are a few books we’ve recently ordered from the library:
- Hour of the Olympics by Mary Pope Osborne
- How to Train with a T. Rex and Win 8 Gold Medals by Michael Phelps
- The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus by Aliki
There is a lot to learn from the Olympics. We’re going to explore geography, animals, movement and history to name a few topics. I look forward to sharing our experiences with you.
Thank you for choosing to read this post. I hope that we inspired you today!