Inclusive Learning through Sports: From the Classroom to the Summer Games!

It’s almost time for the Summer Games when more than 10,000 world-class athletes will descend on Paris, France, to compete in 32 different sports with the entire world watching.

Whether you tune in for track, swimming, or surfing, it’s clear that the Summer Games is about much more than athleticism and fierce competition. It’s also a celebration of diversity, inclusion, and the connection that sports can create among humankind.

Here are a few fun ideas to celebrate the upcoming games and promote inclusion in the classroom:

Highlight the Similarities Among Sports

Using a sports-themed book as a starting point, engage students by having them talk about their favorite sport, maybe one popular in their native country or one they look forward to watching.  You can also focus on new sports debuting at this year’s Summer Games. Students might be surprised to find that their favorite sports have more in common than they think! Football, also known as soccer, might seem very different from cricket, but both sports are played by a team, involve a ball, and are played on grass.  Creating a word web is a great way to help students understand that most sports have common elements.

Sepak Takraw – Amazing Sports from Around the World
Map it Out

Using a world map, locate the countries where different sports are played around the world. (Don’t forget to point out where this year’s Summer Games are taking place!) Have the students talk about how various climates might influence the type and manner of sports played in the area. Students can also conduct further research about the country’s culture, environment, people, and languages where the sport is popular.

Elephant Polo – Amazing Sports from Around the World
Let Imagination Take Flight

Have students divide into groups and create their own sport! Students must present how the game is played, the basic rules, and any equipment needed. Have them discuss sports that might have influenced it, their unique creation and where it might be played in the world. They can even create a poster for their sport, design a logo, or host their own classroom competition!

Capoeira – Amazing Sports from Around the World

These lesson plan ideas, written by Emily Grant and Katie Vander Neut, and many additional in-depth extension activities, are available as a companion to Language Lizard’s book Amazing Sports from Around the World. To see the full lesson plan and download related activities, click here. For more information about Amazing Sports from Around the World, see Language Lizard’s blog post.

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Anneke Forzani founded Language Lizard ( to provide educators, librarians, and parents with resources that develop literacy skills among English Language Learners, build inclusive classrooms, and celebrate cultural diversity. Language Lizard offers bilingual books in over 50 languages, multilingual audio resources, multicultural posters, and free lesson plans to support multicultural classrooms. The company also runs a blog ( for parents and teachers working with language learners and culturally diverse students. Anneke is the author of Building Bridges with Bilingual Books and Multicultural Resources (a manual to support culturally responsive teaching) and With Flying Colors: Color Idioms (a multicultural idiom book).
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