Primary Primary Geography Primary PSHE

All about Rio: Lesson Ideas

This summer the Olympics, the biggest sporting event on earth, arrive in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Major sporting events are a great excuse for finding out about different countries and cultures and the Olympics are no exception. Through these activities, pupils will gain an understanding of life in Brazil and how it is linked, almost inextricably with sport.


Activity One – Rio Knowledge Web

Suitable for Years 3 to 6

Learning Objectives: 

To find out and present information about a city or country

To display information in a way that is interesting and informative

Many classes starting a new topic complete a ‘knowledge harvest’ – in other words, what do the pupils know before we start the topic? This activity takes this idea and expands on it throughout the topic.

Begin with a blank display space in the classroom, or better still in an area where all pupils can see it. Put up the title ‘Brazil’ and add photographs of aspects of Brazil to stimulate interest. If you want to direct the activity more, choose a picture from aspects such as sport, environment, language, music, food, culture etc. Ask the pupils what they know about Brazil and to write it on a Brazil shaped piece of paper and do a picture to accompany it – you can use the templates which accompany this set of activities.

You can now build this up over the weeks of the topic, asking the pupils to summarise each lesson on Brazil to add to the display or ask them to research aspects to use, maybe for homework.

Activity Two – Dance and carnival

Suitable for Years 2 to 6

Learning Objectives:

To understand why Catholic countries like Brazil host an annual carnival and why Brazil has the biggest carnival in the world

To understand and replicate the themes of the carnival along with its music and dance


Read the story of Jesus’ time in the desert prior to his entry into Jerusalem at Easter. Ask the pupils how they think Jesus would have felt beforehand knowing that he was going to spend forty days and nights alone, without company or food. What might he decide to do on the day before his ordeal? Explain that today, all across the world Christians (and Muslims too during Ramadan) spend a part of the year fasting to emulate Jesus, in the case of Christians or for Muslims, to celebrate the holiest month in Islam when the Qur’an was revealed to Mohammed.

Before this period, Christians, like Jesus might have felt, want a way to have one last day of happiness before the ordeal begins and so we have the fun of Mardi Gras and carnival time. Plan a school or class carnival – it needn’t be for the start of Lent as the Rio Olympics are equally likely to be preceded by a carnival party. Summer is the perfect time for carnival in England as seen in the late summer Notting Hill Carnival. Invite parents and friends along to watch and enjoy the carnival atmosphere.

To complete this activity, look at some of the costumes and masks worn by the participants. Choose a theme, perhaps a different one for each class – you could even base it around the key aspects of Brazil such as sport, culture, environment etc. Make masks and costumes and use PE and dance lessons to learn Samba, the national dance of Brazil for the carnival itself.

You can get some ideas from this video of the Samba Schools which take part in the carnival.

Activity Three – Brazil and Football

Suitable for Years 2 to 6

Learning Objectives:

To be able to understand why Brazil is renowned for sport and in particular football

To compile a biography of some of the great Brazilian sporting legends

Brazil has been acknowledged as the world’s greatest footballing nation with a record five World Cup victories but why are they so good at football? Ask the pupils to find out about leisure activities in Brazil, the climate and how this affects what people do and the environment which affects where people take their leisure time.

Show them this video of ‘altinho’, a pastime for young Brazilians. Ask them to tell you what this shows about opportunities and how hard they practise their skills. Add this information to your Brazil display.

Some of the world’s most famous footballers have hailed from Brazil, Pele being a case in point. Other well-known footballers include Ronaldo and Ronaldinho. In this activity, the pupils will produce a biographical fact file for these footballers. Use the accompanying activity sheet to help the pupils plan their research. Ask the pupils to find out whether there are any other fields of sport where Brazil has dominated (Formula 1 Motor Racing is one, with personalities including Ayrton Senna, Emerson Fittipaldi and Nelson Piquet)

Activity Four – Living in Rio – design a guide for new arrivals

Suitable for Years 3 to 6

Learning Objectives:

To be able to decide what information would be necessary for a person coming to live in Rio

To be able to present the information in an appropriate format for a person coming to live in Rio

Ask the pupils to imagine they have been asked to compile a leaflet for people wanting to live in Rio. What things would they need to know?

To get an idea of what to include look at the Wikitravel page on Rio but remind the pupils that the information they need to include will be different for those. Ask the pupils to tell you what they think might need to be included and compare this with what a visitor to the Olympics would need to know. From the list, ask the pupils to make a leaflet suitable to be given to new residents of the city. The leaflet should include images as well as text. The activity could also be completed as a website or as a PowerPoint.

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro

Looking for non-fiction books to engage your pupils with the upcoming Rio Olympics? Collins Big Cat has a selection of books that will excite and inspire your pupils. Click below to find out more about each book.






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