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Olympic Rings

Age 5 to 7
Challenge Level

Olympic Rings

Five coloured interlocking rings have been the symbol of the Olympics for nearly one hundred years.

What colours can you see?

You can see the way they interlock if you click here.  

How would you describe the picture?
Can you design your own symbol using five coloured rings?

Other shapes could be linked in a similar way.
Have a go at linking five squares. Make them interesting colours.

 5 squares

Why do this problem?

This problem is intended to get children to look really hard at something they will see many times in the next few months. It is easy to glance at something, recognise it, and not know afterwards how it really looked.

Possible approach

You could start by showing the whole group the ring design on a white-board. You can find it here.

What can they say about the picture? What colours? What shapes? How are they joined? If they were real would they fall apart?
Next they could have a go at drawing the five rings for themselves, and possibly linking other shapes as in the question.
At the end of the lesson the whole group could come together again and discuss what they had done and discovered about the five Olympic rings.

Key questions

What can you tell me about the picture?

What shape are the rings?
What colours are the rings?
How are they joined?
If they were real would they fall apart?

Possible extension

Learners could see what shapes can be linked in this way and which would not work. Alternatively, they could work out many different ways the five rings could be coloured with five colours used, and possibly draw all these combinations.


Possible support

Suggest just drawing and colouring the unjoined rings. 

The symbol of the Olympic Games is composed of five interlocking rings, coloured blue, yellow, black, green, and red on a white field. This was originally designed in 1912 by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games.
The five Olympic rings represent the five continents involved in the Olympics, were adopted in 1914 and had their debut at the 1920 Games. They stood for five regions that participated at Antwerp, 1920. 
The symbol is copyright protected, which is why there is a link and no direct copy of it in this activity.