Saturday, August 4, 2012

Summer Olympics Learning

Gess and I are enjoying the Summer Olympic Games of 2012 in London.  We really enjoyed the opening ceremony and I was quite impressed about how the stage was transformed from a beautiful field to an industrialized city.  Having a son majoring in theatre at FHSU I was really captivated by a production on that scale and as someone who loves studying history I appreciated watching the passing of time before my very eyes.

Then finally it was time for the games to begin.  I am trying to expose Gess to as much of the olympics as possible so she can figure out what interests her.  I was surprised to find that she really enjoyed watching Tennis each morning.  She liked it so much she wants to play and I assured her we would do that as soon as the temperature got below 100 degrees!  She has also enjoyed some kayaking in the early part of the day. 

But of course there are the sports that everyone watches and waits for and Gess is no exception.  She really loves watching the swimming and gymnastics each evening.  We are also looking forward to the start of track and filed as those are the events she participates in and has medaled in during the Special Olympics. 

Gess is very competitive and really hates losing.  We have worked very hard to teach her how to be a good sport and she is much better at accepting a loss these days.  However, there were a few swimming races in which she actually teared up and got upset!  She apparently not only hates when she personally loses, she now hates it when her country loses too!  It was sort of cute but I really felt bad.  I want this to be fun for her.  One time our team got the bronze and the girl from USA was crying because she won it and my Gess was crying because she didn't get the gold!  I reminded Gess how much fun she has in Wichita and assured her that these athletes are having fun in London regardless of the results (for the most part anyway).

Swimming was really tough for Gess because the results are instant and the newscasters get really into describing the race.  They set the stage for an emotional finish.  Gymnastics however was much more fun for Gess to watch because the results were not instantaneous.  You had to wait for the score and unless it was the last event you still didn't know who won yet.  Because Gess takes gymnastics herself (tumbling and trampoline, not the vault or uneven bars) she really enjoyed this the best.

Gess started learning about the girls Olympic team.  We watched the boys as well, but there is just something about the girls.  Before the Olympics began I found out via Facebook that Knowledge Quest was offering some free resources to help kids learn and enjoy the Olympics game.  We downloaded the My Country Book Pages and had them ready.  You are supposed to use them to learn about different countries, but since Gess was so taken with the girls gymnastics team but kept confusing their names, we used it to focus on that one team.  (We still may do some flag and country work later.)

First I downloaded a couple of pictures of the team and one of each girl.  This was after we had watched them win the gold but before the All Around competition.  Gess put her book together and then we added in the scores the girls got in each event.  I found the scores online for the Team Competition but we wrote the scores down for the All Around Competition for Aly and Gabby as it happened.  It was a fun way to watch and now Gess really knows which girl is which.  It is my hope that this will help Gess when she is back in her gymnastics class this fall.  There are just a couple of things she is afraid to try because of her fear of heights.  Her coach is really great at getting her to do things but now maybe he can say things like "Gabby Douglas does it" and maybe that will be enough to give her some more courage!  Here is Gess working on her Gymnastics Team USA Country Book.

Gabby Douglas actually became Gess' favorite before she won the All Around competition.  What's not to love about that girl!?  I want to send out a huge congratulations to the girls for winning the gold and to all the athletes out there giving it their very best.  My favorite part of the games is hearing the words unexpected, surprising, shocking and other various words that reveal that the news casters are just as bad as predicting winners for these games as weather forecasters are at predicting the weather.  I love watching the underdog win.  Quit trying to pick the winners and just let these athletes do what they came here to do!  You will know who wins soon enough.  Well there are still many games yet to enjoy.  On to the races!  Go Team USA!

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