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The Space Race and The Olympics Lesson

Updated on November 17, 2014
iijuan12 profile image

I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 8.

Creating a full size model of Sputnik I using a basketball, aluminum foil, metal skewers, and a recording device (to make continuous beeping noises)
Creating a full size model of Sputnik I using a basketball, aluminum foil, metal skewers, and a recording device (to make continuous beeping noises)

This is part 7 in an 8 part unit study on Russia. Make a full-size model of Sputnik 1, learn gymnastics moves and host a miniature Olympics gymnastics competition, experiment with sugar while learning about the Cuban Missile Crisis, and more while learning about the Space Race and Russian Olympics. Also included are our favorite books, YouTube video clips, lapbook and activity links, and other resources we used as we studied The Space Race & the Olympics using the fun unit study book Russia: Land of Endurance by Konos Curriculum. Use these ideas with your class, family, or homeschool co-op group!

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Included in this lens you'll find some of the activities we did along with our favorite books we read and YouTube clips we watched while we studied the Space Race and the Olympics Russia. Topics featured include the Space Race, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Olympics, and Rimsky-Korsakov.

Space Race

Creating a full size model of Sputnik I using a basketball, aluminum foil, metal skewers, and a recording device (to make continuous beeping noises)

Reacting the lunar landing using a ladder and repeating the line, "That is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."
Reacting the lunar landing using a ladder and repeating the line, "That is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."

Our Favorite Books on The Space Race

Pupniks: The Story of Two Space Dogs
Pupniks: The Story of Two Space Dogs

This is a cute picture book about Belka and Strelka, the first two dogs trained to visit outer space. Russia used them to test if humans could also venture into space.

 
T-Minus: The Race to the Moon
T-Minus: The Race to the Moon

This is a great comic-book style explanation of the the Space Race between the Soviets and Americans. It is 128 pages, so it is longer than I would want to read to my children. However, my children who can read enjoyed reading it on their own, and my younger children enjoyed looking at all the pictures.

 

More of Our Favorite Books on The Space Race

Also look for "Laika" by Nick Abadzis, "Laika: Astronaut Dog" by Owen Davey, "Laika: The 1st Dog in Space" (Graphic Planet) by Joeming Dunn, "Laika the Astronaut" by Owen Davey, "The First Moon Landing" by Thomas K. Adamson, "Look to the Stars" by Buzz Aldrin, and "One Giant Leap" by Robert Burleigh.

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 (Richard Jackson Books (Atheneum Hardcover))
Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 (Richard Jackson Books (Atheneum Hardcover))

We read many books on Apollo 11, and this was our favorite version. It has just the right amount of text and has nice illustrations.

 
Sputnik: The First Satellite (Space Firsts)
Sputnik: The First Satellite (Space Firsts)

This was the best children's book we could find that describes Sputnik I. It contains photographs rather than illustrations.

 

YouTube Clips We Enjoyed on the Space Race

We did not watch all these videos in their entirety.

Cuban Missile Crisis

Experimenting with sugar while studying the Cuban Missile Crisis

The Cuban Missile Crisis (Cornerstones of Freedom Second Series)
The Cuban Missile Crisis (Cornerstones of Freedom Second Series)

This was the best children's picture book we could find on the Cuban Missile Crisis. It is a longer picture book.

 

Our Favorite YouTube Clips on the Cuban Missile Crisis

We only watched parts of this.

"The Cuban Missile Crisis" Declassified FULL Documentary

Cuban Missile Crisis (1962)

Olympics

Awards ceremony following our impromptu Olympics gymnastics competition
Awards ceremony following our impromptu Olympics gymnastics competition
Click thumbnail to view full-size
"Balance beam" practicePracticing gymnastics moves
"Balance beam" practice
"Balance beam" practice
Practicing gymnastics moves
Practicing gymnastics moves

Our Favorite Picture Book on the Olympics

Also look for "Olympics" by B. G. Hennessy.

G is for Gold Medal: An Olympics Alphabet (Sports Alphabet)
G is for Gold Medal: An Olympics Alphabet (Sports Alphabet)

This has gorgeous illustrations. It has a short and a long description of each aspect of the Olympics mentioned for each letter of the alphabet, which makes it great for reading to both younger and older children.

 

Good YouTube Clips on Russia & the Olympics

Rimsky-Korsakov

Flight of the Bumblebee on YouTube

Ready for More?

Designing and launching rockets from Lesson 6: The Cold War and Arms Race
Designing and launching rockets from Lesson 6: The Cold War and Arms Race

Cook borscht and blini, study and paint like the famous artists of Russia, perform a miniature "Nutcracker" ballet performance, dramatize a Communist lunch (complete with sentencing to "Siberia" for the non-compliant), and more in the fun 8 part study on Russia!

  • Russian Geography and Early Russian History Lesson - This is part 1 in an 8 part unit study on Russia. Paint a Russian Orthodox triptych, taste caviar, play the Russian Temperate Zone Game, read classic Baba Yaga tales, and more while learning about Russian geography and early Russian history. Also included are our favorite books, YouTube video clips, lapbook and activity links, and other resources we used while learning about Russian geography and early Russian history.
  • Russian Czars Lesson - This is part 2 in an 8 part unit study on Russia. Construct a model of the Red Square, attempting Cossack-style dancing, decorate eggs like Carl Faberge, read classic Czar tales, and more while learning about Russian Czars. Also included are our favorite books, YouTube video clips, lapbook and activity links, and other resources we used while learning about Russian Czars.
  • Russian Revolution Lesson - This is part 3 in an 8 part unit study on Russia. Play the Russian Civil War version of Capture the Flag, endure a "Communist" lunch complete with trying to trade food on the black market, create Communist flags, and more while learning about the Russian Revolution. Also included are our favorite books, YouTube video clips, lapbook and activity links, and other resources we used while learning about the Russian Revolution.
  • Siberia Lesson - This is part 4 in an 8 part unit study on Russia. Sketch an Aurora Borealis landscape scene using pastels, making grape jelly to demonstrate the smelting process, cut out various shapes of snowflakes, dress up as and pretend to be musk oxen, walruses, Siberian tigers, and reindeer, and more while learning about Siberia. Also included are our favorite books, YouTube video clips, lapbook and activity links, and other resources we used while learning about Siberia.
  • Russian Ballet Lesson - This is part 5 in an 8 part unit study on Russia. Perform a miniature production of The Nutcracker, learn the basic positions in ballet, watch videos of and read about famous Russian dancers including Anna Pavlova, Nijinsky, and Baryshnikov, and more while learning about Russian ballet. Also included are our favorite books, YouTube video clips, lapbook and activity links, and other resources we used while learning about Russian ballet.
  • The Cold War and Arms Race Lesson - This is part 6 in an 8 part unit study on Russia. Design and launch various types of rockets, dramatize the Berlin Airlift and the Chocolate Pilot, prepare and eat blini, and more while learning about the Cold War and the Arms Race. Also included are our favorite books, YouTube video clips, lapbook and activity links, and other resources we used while learning about the Cold War and the Arms Race.
  • The Space Race and The Olympics Lesson - This is part 7 in an 8 part unit study on Russia. Make a full-size model of Sputnik 1, learn gymnastics moves and host a miniature Olympics gymnastics competition, experiment with sugar while learning about the Cuban Missile Crisis, and more while learning about the Space Race and Russian Olympics. Also included are our favorite books, YouTube video clips, lapbook and activity links, and other resources we used while learning about the Space Race and Russian Olympics.
  • End of the Cold War and Russian Artists Lesson - This is part 8 in an 8 part unit study on Russia. Recreate Kandinsky’s and Marc Chagall’s works, build and then knock down a model of the Berlin Wall, decorate pysanky eggs, make and eat kulich, and more while learning about the end of the Cold War and contemporary Russian artists. Also included are our favorite books, YouTube video clips, lapbook and activity links, and other resources we used while learning about the end of the Cold War and contemporary Russian artists.
  • Russia: Faberge, Chess, & Borscht – This lesson provides a simple overview of Russia. I have compiled all you will need to locate Russia on a map, cook a Russian meal, watch YouTube clips on Russia, color the flag, create a Russian craft, read a great book about Russia, and more!
  • Ukraine: A Missing Mitten, Pysanky Easter Eggs, & Babka Bread – If you would like to learn a bit more on Ukraine, visit my lesson at which I have shared all you will need to locate Ukraine on a map, cook a Ukrainian meal, watch YouTube clips on Ukraine, color the flag, create a Ukrainian craft, read a great book about Ukraine, and more!

Russia: Land of Endurance

All of the above activities featured in the photos are just some of the many excellent activities featured in Russia: Land of Endurance by Konos Curriculum. The curriculum is easy to follow, with a lesson full of activities for each day of the week. You can either buy the book or you can buy the lesson book along with needed craft supplies and books.

© 2013 iijuan12

What first comes to mind when you think of the Space Race or Russia in the Olympics? - Or just let me know you were here! I love hearing from you!

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