Maths and the Commonwealth Games

numeracy leaders teachers Jul 20, 2022

Next week is the beginning of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham (United Kingdom). The games take place from the 28th of July to the 8th August.

For those of you not familiar with this event, it is held every 4 years and athletes from the Commonwealth Countries are invited to play 26 individual and team sports. You can find out more about the sports played here. 

In Australia, we love sport, and we love the Commonwealth Games because we are usually quite successful in terms of the number of medals our athletes bring home!

I remember in 2006 when the games were hosted here in Melbourne. We had a 6 week first term to make sure everyone was on school holidays during the games! Not even school gets in the way of sport here!

Anyway, I just wanted to remind you that the Commonwealth Games are coming up, and they will provide a wonderful opportunity to infuse some authentic ‘Maths x Sport’ into your Numeracy sessions.

I am including a video I made last year in which I shared some of my Maths Olympics ideas. All of the ideas are transferable for the Commonwealth Games. In this blog, I will explain each of the events in a little more detail.

The Maths Commonwealth Games

When I was in the classroom, many moons ago, I ran a Maths Commonwealth Games with my Year 1/2 students. The students were in groups of 3 students and rotated through several activities. I had a little video at each station explaining what to do, however you certainly don’t need to do that, you can simply explain the events to the students and perhaps have some referees who are overseeing each event (could be a great event to invite parents to be involved)?

The events below are suitable from F-6. The older students can use formal instead of informal units to complete all the required measurements.

The following are the resources you will need for the Maths Commonwealth Games events. 

These are the events (in no particular order):

Cotton Bud Archery

Draw a target on the concrete with chalk. Each competitor has 3 cotton buds and needs to throw them from the start line. Their score is the total of where the 3 throws land (try saying that 3 times quickly!) For older students you could use large numbers or decimal or fraction values in the circles.


Cotton Ball Shot Put

Each competitor has 3 cotton balls. They take turns to throw the balls from the start line. Each competitor measures and record their longest throw (using formal or informal units, depending on age)

Straw Javelin

Each player has 3 straws. In front of them are four plastic/paper plates marked 1-4. Their score is the total points of where the three throws land. For older students you could use decimal or fraction values on the plates)

For example, in the image below the competitor’s score is 3+3+2=8

Straw and Cup Race

Competitors each use their own straw to blow a plastic cup across a table. First cup to fall off the table at the other end is the winner. This could also be a timed event, where each student completes the task individually and is timed by the other students using a stopwatch. Fastest time wins.

Long Jump

Competitors stand at the start line and complete a standing jump. Each competitor is permitted to have 3 jumps and they measure their longest jump. Competitor with the longest jump wins. 

Data Collection

Provide students with a simple sheet to write their scores (older students should be encouraged to create a table themselves- this is an important skill in data collection and presentation). Provide time at the end of each rotation for the competitors to collate the results and award first, second and third place (ordinal number, tick!)

Here is a blog I wrote about the Winter Olympics last year. You will find some further fun events included.

I have also heard great things about the Potato Olympics activities created by the Australian Mathematics and Science Institute (AMSI) here is the link for you to have a look at their activities. 

I hope you and your students have great fun competing in the Maths Commonwealth Games in your class!

Go Australia!

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