Olympic Storytelling

Possible Classroom  Concepts: Language Arts – Storytelling

Social Studies – History  (Archeology, Sports), Science (Ecology)

Mathematics – Pattern, Symmetry

Possible Art Concepts: Art History (Greek Vases)

Drawing (Forms, Moving Human Figure), Pattern, Commercial Art


Hello all! I’ve been wanting to cover storytelling in art for a while now. I’ve been doing a lot of research, but just couldn’t seem to pull the trigger. Then, the Olympics came along and “VOILA, INSPIRATION!”.  You all know the old adage, “A picture’s worth a thousand words.” Well, before the invention of the printing press, that’s how word got around. Few people knew how to read because there wasn’t much out there to read. Stories were passed down by word of mouth or through images artists created. One great example of storytelling art is the Greek vase. The vases often contained images of everyday life, stories of Greek gods and even the Olympics. Find a nice example of a Greek vase and some vase characteristics here. Find information about the Olympics for intermediate students here and for preschool and primary students here. Sorry I don’t have many pictures of the Olympic game vases for you. The examples I found all contained quite anatomically correct nude figures. I know, in our school district, nudes were a No No, so I’m sure it’s that way in yours also.

To encourage storytelling and incorporate a few mathematic concepts in your class, you might choose to create a Greek vase with your class. If you have access to computers, students could use this interactive sight to design their own pot. Students could also make their vases using crayon etching or simply draw on black or orange paper.  This teacher  gives a great description of symmetry and how to create a paper vase shape.  Next, students can brainstorm their favorite Olympic sport/athlete. They can act out poses of moving Olympic figures or look at this chart and practice sketching them. I find that starting with a stick figure and fattening it up like the Fine Lines art teacher uses here works best.  The students can then draw their moving figures onto the largest area of their vase. Lastly, the students add pattern above and below their figures. There is also a paper plate vase activity here.

I was thinking of another approach to teaching this concept. Greek vases were used to hold water and wine. What do we use to hold water today?  Why, many of us use the plastic water bottle. This the perfect place to incorporate an ecology lesson. Using the information from this chart and this video, discuss the importance of drinking water from a reusable water bottle. Look at examples of different reusable water bottles found here and here. You could also bring some reusable water bottles from home or students could find some in their lunch boxes. Learn to draw a basic water bottle here. Discuss with students what they like and dislike about their water bottles. Encourage students to design /invent their own reusable water bottle. They can still even decorate it with today’s Olympic athletes and modern patterns. If your school participates in the Square One  fundraising program, students could make their Olympic design for the fundraiser and order a real stainless steel water bottle with their design on it if they like. At times like these, I wish I was still teaching. I would soooooo teach this lesson.

Well, I’ve come to the end of another post. As usual, I’ve learned some new things and the post ended up a little different than I initially intended. What do you all think? How would you or have you taught this concept? To leave a comment, simply click on this post’s title and scroll down to the comment section at the bottom. I’d love to hear from you.

Come back again real soon!