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Educational Resources

Canadian Olympic Fashion

A Teaching Strategy for Use With Library and Archives Canada's Canadian Olympians Website

Students will construct a timeline of a Canadian Olympic sport and design a uniform for a Canadian Olympic team.


Canadian Studies (History), Language Arts, and Visual Arts and Drama
Ages 14-16

Learning Outcomes (WCP)
Objectives (QC)
Learning Outcomes (APEF)
Expectations (ON)

Social Studies Outcomes (History, Geography):

In completing this project, students will:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the elements of Canadian identity
  • Explain to what extent certain national symbols represent Canada and Canadians

Arts Outcomes (Drama):

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the conventions of role-playing and the structuring of dramatic works
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the elements and principles of dramatic expression (e.g., voice, movement, production)
  • Demonstrate an understanding of group responsibility in the creation of a drama

Arts Outcome (Visual Arts):

Design a uniform around specific objectives and challenges (e.g., composition issues, subject matter, use of visual language)

Language Arts Outcome:

(R) Reading

  • Read and demonstrate an understanding of a range of literary and informational texts, both contemporary and historic

This Language Arts Outcome corresponds to:

  • WCP GO - R: 3.2
  • Quebec objectives - 3 (Reading)
  • APEF CGO - R: 5/6

Student Demonstration of Learning

Students will work in small groups to research the Canadian Olympic tradition in a sport of their choice and integrate their findings into the design of a uniform for a Canadian Olympic team. Groups will "sell" their designs in a role-playing presentation.

Materials/Resources Required

Computers with access to the Internet
Student Handout
Assessment Criteria

Web Links

Library and Archives Canada's For Teachers website

Library and Archives Canada's For Students website

Library and Archives Canada's ARCHIVED - Celebrating Women's Achievements website

Canadian Olympic Committee

International Olympic Committee

Olympic Museum

History of the Games

CBC Sports: Olympics

Instructional Procedures

Enhancing Student Interest

This activity could be timed to coincide with the Olympic Games, or with some other major sporting event.

Large Group Work

Share promotional materials with students related to past, present, or upcoming Olympic Games, such as:

  • photos
  • flyers
  • posters
  • video clips
  • bookswebsites

Invite students to respond to the above materials, as well as to the concept of the Olympics.

Challenge the whole class to briefly list as many official Olympic sports as they can. The class can then refer to references (see Web Links) to discover Olympic sports of which they were previously unaware.

Students should form small groups (2 - 3 members) according to their shared interest in one Olympic sport.

Small Group Work

Each small group is given the Student Handout, which describes their career-performance task. Groups then continue with the following procedure:

I. Research

Each group is directed to Library and Archives Canada's Canadian Olympians website. Starting here, the students are to examine any and all materials related to their sport's Canadian Olympic history. See Web Links for other sites. Students should look for:

  • Photos
  • Articles
  • Biographies of famous athletes
  • Rules, regulations and explanations
  • Equipment
  • History of the sport
  • Other helpful information

II. Analysis

All acquired information is organized sequentially along a timeline. The timeline is designed to reveal as much as possible about Canada's involvement in the history, athletes, and fashion of each group's chosen sport. Students should consider the ways in which the history of the Canadian Olympic tradition has informed uniform design. Groups can answer the following questions:

What aspects of the sport's past Canadian uniform design does the group find:

a) attractive?
b) interesting?
c) unique, original, different?
d) functional, purposeful, helpful to the athlete?
e) ugly, embarrassing, not to be repeated?

What colours are:

a) effective?
b) symbolic?
c) dominant?
d) not used?
e) inappropriate?

Regarding materials:

a) Which are used? Why?
b) Which aren't used? Why not?
c) What qualities are necessary in the materials to be considered for this sport's uniform?
d) Can certain materials contribute to improved performance in the sport?
e) What other factors need to be considered in selecting the uniform's materials?

Regarding the logo:

a) What have been the dominant traditional symbols?
b) Have these symbols undergone change over time? How?
c) Where has the logo traditionally been located on the uniform? Why? Are other locations possible or desirable?
d) What size has the logo been with respect to the rest of the uniform?
e) How has text been incorporated into the logo design?

III. Experimentation

Having considered the above questions (as well as others which the students themselves contribute to the analysis) the group is ready for experimentation.

Each member of the group will be given a few days to work independently and create at least one sketch of a team uniform that incorporates the ideas discussed during the analysis stage. At this point, the students should focus on the ideas represented in the drawings, and not be preoccupied by their artistic quality.

Group members return to with their sketch or sketches in hand. The group must now work co-operatively to create one agreed-upon drawing which combines the best elements from each of the individual sketches.

IV. Revision

The group drawing (still not artistically refined) is revealed to an outside group (another team of students) for the purpose of obtaining an objective response. The PMI (Plus/Minus/Interesting) chart in the Student Handout facilitates feedback.

V. Presentation

Each group considers the feedback they received, and then collaborates to refine their artistic product. Upon completion, the team must sell its final uniform in a consultant-client role-playing presentation to the Canadian Olympic Committee (that is, the rest of the class).

Each group's challenge is to promote their uniform's attractiveness and innovation, its links to Canadian Olympic tradition and identity, and its functional characteristics. Groups are given creative freedom to select the presentation format they feel would be most effective (e.g., informational, multi-media, commercial, celebrity endorsement, fashion show) in convincing the COA.

Notes on Enriching This Activity