Geolympic Games: A HANDS-ON and ENGAGING Geometry Activity

It started like this (as many great teacher ideas do) over lunch:

“How will we wrap up our geometry unit?” my colleague implored.

“I checked out the performance task for this chapter and it’s great!” another responded (P.S. She was right, they are great, and we used the performance task, too!).

“What if we could have the kids play geometry games outside, kinda like field day?” I asked while staring out the window, half-kidding…because, what? How would that even work? *Weird things happen in teacher brains when we’re sweating in our classrooms in late May from simply breathing and it looks like a beautiful day outside, where the temperature is also probably cooler than inside the classroom.* 

Then, the same colleague who asked how we’d wrap up the unit was brave and courageous and wanted to tackle this geometry-field-dayish-but-shorter-activity-thing. Note: Sometimes, when you support each other’s crazy ideas and collaborate, AMAZING things happen! So, we went for it!

We were excited! 

I went home that evening and got right to work. I only knew one thing: I wanted students to create the games to exercise their geometry knowledge and get creative with their thinking. It was scary leaving this in the students’ hands, really, but WOW I am happy we did!

I designed the activity so that our students were introduced to the Geolympic Games (that name came to me in a seriously awesome brain blast amid a haze of exhaustion…you know those?) as an opportunity to create their own physical and mental games based around a common focal point: geometry.

 

Then, I created a checklist for students to follow so that games were appropriate for the Geolympics and pages for them to write their detailed game directions on. As soon as I introduced this to my third graders, they were crazy focused on getting started!

 

I WAS SO IMPRESSED WITH THE GAMES THAT MY THIRD GRADE STUDENTS CREATED! 

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I placed students in pairs and they collaborated to come up with a geometry-based game.

Several of my student pairs wanted to create a trivia game for teams to compete it, so I asked them to describe how the game would work and make the trivia questions they would want students to answer. In the end, I had these groups get together to collaborate on a trivia game called “Geopardy” that was well-planned out by one of the trivia groups. One of the students worked on creating the question board and the other students added the questions to the board. Serious geometry thinking! 

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Most of the other groups created physical games for the Geolympics. I worked with two other third grade teachers to bring this idea to life. They also had their students create geometry games to play. The day our students completed their games, the three of us teachers got together over some chips and salsa and chose 6 of the games to make stations for the Geolympics.

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The following week, we held our first ever

Geolympic Games!

We gathered the materials we needed from the gym teacher at our school, got a few parent volunteers, and we quickly set up the stations during recess. We split our students among 6 teams. The day of the Geolympics, we gathered the teams together across our three classrooms and they worked collaboratively to create team names and flags to carry around with them during the Geolympics. Some of the teams were the Star Tetrahedrons, the Geo Masters, and the Elite Angles.

Each team visited every station to earn points based on the game rules the students made. To say the students had fun is an understatement! They LOVED being outside to practice geometry and they loved playing the games they made!

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Our stations that day included Bangle-Ball (a basketball game that involved angles), Geometry Relays (a relay race that involved shape knowledge), Geometry Dash (a competitive beanbag game), Hula Hoop Trivia, Geopardy, and Angle Dash (a scavenger hunt game). All of these games, except Bangle-Ball, were created by third grade students.

That night, we totaled up the points for each team and figured out which teams earned 1st place, 2nd place, and 3rd place. We made medals for those students, just like the Olympics, and we created certificates of participation for the other three teams. We gathered the students outside the next day and announced the teams who won 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. They wore their medal necklaces for DAYS afterwards.

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I loved, loved, loved this activity! I saw a creative side of the my students that I had not seen before. They were so excited to play their games and so many of the geometry concepts we practiced in the classroom were made more concrete for them while we competed in the Geolympics. I cannot wait to do this activity again next year! 

The Geolympics are available to you in my TPT store: Wild and Free in Grade Three.

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I included the following pages in the Geolympics resource:

– Directions for Use
– Geolympic Games Introduction
– Geolympics Overview
– Geolympics Checklist
– Game Direction Outline
– Team Name/Flag Page
– Directions/Resources for BANGLE-BALL
– Directions/Resources for GEO-HUNT
– Directions for AREA & PERIMETER ROUND-UP
– Directions/Resources for POLY-DRAW
– Overall Team Points Page
– 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place Medals

Are you interested in hosting your own Geolympic Games? If you are, I am here to help you with any questions you have or ideas you want to bounce off another educator! Leave a comment below or email me! I can’t wait to hear what your students come up with for games! ♥ ENJOY! 

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