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Medal-Winning Olympic Money Activities for Kids

With the Winter Olympics now in full swing, the events themselves take centre stage, allowing us to enjoy the years of dedication and training by the athletes. The one thing we sometimes forget about though, is how much money it all costs – to prepare for the Olympics, to host the Olympics, to get to, and participate in, the Olympics, or for the spectators to travel to the Games to watch in person.

Below are a variety of discussion topics and fun money-themed activities you can use with kids to help them understand all of the ways money comes into play with an event like the Olympic Games.

How much training does it take for someone to become an Olympic level athlete, and what does that cost?

Have kids examine how long someone has to train to become an Olympic athlete, as well as how much all of the training costs. Perhaps they could select a specific athlete and learn more about that athlete’s individual story – how long they have trained, the experiences they have had, and so on. Consider how many times a week an Olympic athlete has had to train or practice? Consider the trade-offs they may have made in their lives in deciding to allocate their time to all that training. How many different coaches would they have to have (and pay)? Consider the equipment costs. Certain events like Ski Jumping or Bobsled require unique training facilities that might require an athlete to move – and the equipment costs can be very high. How much is available to athletes in terms of financial support, and how much do they have to pay themselves? What are possible sources of revenue for them – and what kinds of creative ways are athletes raising money to support their goals of becoming an Olympic athlete – and dreaming of a medal.

This activity helps kids gain an understanding and appreciation for the dedication that these athletes have, and the time they’ve invested, but it also helps show them think about the kinds of trade-offs people make in their lives to get the things that are important to them.  It helps kids appreciate the planning that is involved – and all the various kinds of costs that can come into setting, and trying to reach, a goal. It can help them learn about goal-setting – and how goals can help inspire a person – and help a person make difficult trade-offs to achieve their goals. There are so many things that kids can explore in terms of the decisions that are involved in being an Olympic athlete – and all of the various ways in which money matters can come into play in the decisions that are made.

How much would it cost for a family of four to travel to South Korea to watch the Olympic Games in person?

Ask kids to examine all of the various expenses that would be required for a family of four to travel to PyeongChang and watch the Olympics in person. Ask them individually, in pairs, or small groups to develop a budget for the trip. You may want to assign an amount of money that is available for the trip, and kids have to plan using that budget. Or you can have them make their plans and see what the budget for such a trip would cost.

Ask them to consider options for expenses such as airfare, accommodation, meals, event tickets, and other expenses they could foresee. Have them share their final budgets with the class, with others, or with you. Discuss the various options and different approaches that could be taken when putting such a plan and budget in place.

Discuss the kinds of trade-offs that might be made – such as cheaper transportation to afford better accommodations, etc. Highlight how trade-offs need to be considered at all stages – and in all of the decisions made.

Discuss how considering the trade-offs helps you to consider what is most important to you – what are your preferences and priorities – what are the things they feels are “needs” versus “wants” in making the travel decisions. Setting priorities, and knowing your preferences, is important in making all money decisions.

This activity will help kids learn about planning and budgeting, deciding on priorities and preferences, setting goals, working within a budget – or realizing all of the different kinds of costs that can enter to in to planning for such a trip. This will be a handy thing for kids to understand when the family is planning any future travel and family vacation.

Here’s a great article that gives more insight into the various costs of travelling to the Olympics in person: http://time.com/money/5013664/winter-olympics-2018-ticket-prices-costs/

How would you spend a given Olympic budget?

Give kids a set budget to spend only on tickets to Olympic events, and have them decide how they’d spend it and which events they’d most like to go to.

This activity also helps kids understand the important concept of trade-offs – that choosing one thing (event) often means having to give up something else (another event). If they want front row tickets to a hockey game, then that may take up much of their budget and they won’t get to see as many other events. Ticket packages that involve multiple sports can be a great value and allow a person to experience more events, but they may not all be their favourite events.

How much is an Olympic Medal worth?

Every day during the Olympic games, we see medals handed out to the winning athletes. While the real prize is the achievement and recognition, it’s also fun to wonder how much is the medal itself really worth? Have kids research the specifics behind the medals themselves (they are slightly different for each Olympic Games), and estimate how much each is worth – gold, silver and bronze – and compare the medal costs between and among various Olympic Games. This activity helps to give a bit of a different and unique perspective for when the medals are handed out. You may also want to explore the rationale or theme associated with the medals at various Olympic Games.  What was the symbolism or was there some kind of message behind put out by what was on the medal, the size of the medals, the style, etc. This can be an interesting discussion in and of itself.

What is the economic impact of hosting an Olympic Games?

Hosting the Olympic Games obviously brings a huge amount of attention to the hosting city, as they’re in the spotlight leading up to the Games – and then very much so during the staging of the Games. Aside from the attention though, what does hosting an Olympics mean for a city? Have a discussion with kids around what other benefits a city gets out of hosting the Olympic Games. Examine what the influx of people and money means for local businesses and for tourism. What is the impact of global TV coverage and the increased awareness of the media and prominent media personalities who cover the Games? Which types of businesses would benefit the most? What about security issues in today’s world? What are the possible risks? What other benefits are there?

How much does it cost to host an Olympic Games?

While the Olympics themselves only last a short period of time, there are years of preparation that go into hosting an Olympic Games. New facilities often have to be built for the events themselves, residences need to be built for the athletes, additional infrastructure may be needed to handle the all of the people to ensure athletes and visitors can get to and from the events and around the city easily. Hosting the Olympic Games is a huge undertaking, and there are major expenses that go along with that. Discuss all of the significant expenses that are required to host the Games, along with where the money comes from, and what some of the lasting benefits are to the hosting city. You might want to compare the similarities and differences in hosting the Winter Games versus the Summer Games. You might want to do a little research to learn about the costs of some of the Olympic Games that have been held and the assessment of costs versus benefits.


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