Artistic Olympics

The Olympics inspired much conversation around our favourite sports and the most exciting sports to watch. Students all had their preferences.

To show their preferred sport, students were asked to trace and cut out a silhouette of a sports person competing in that sport. It was interesting to discuss the word ‘silhouette’ - what language it is from? How do you pronounce it? What letters are silent? And, when doing a Google search: How do you spell it?


Choosing the sport was the easy part - using fine motor skills to cut out the silhouette was more difficult. Using scissors is more challenging than some think. Students are sometimes unwilling to cut something that is small or finely detailed. “I can’t do it” and “I’m not good at cutting out” are commonly-heard phrases. This skill links closely to the key competency of managing self - if I can’t cut something, how will I get better at it?

“Key competencies are not just for school, but for life. Children use key competencies in many situations at home, at sport or cultural occasions and at school, and eventually in work situations. The key competencies are designed to foster in children the kind of capabilities they will need as they become adults and as they go through life.

Managing self means:

  • being self-motivated

  • having a can-do attitude

Managing self is also about building up resilience as a learner. It is particularly important for able students to see mistakes as learning opportunities.” (Capable kids: Working with the key competencies, TKI)



Students painted a background using different shades of colours, trying hard to keep within the lines. Once they had cut out their silhouette, they attached it carefully to their pop of colour and added a black border to enhance the shape of the silhouette. Students were developing practical knowledge in visual art by “exploring some art-making conventions, applying knowledge of elements and selected principles through the use of materials and processes”, as stated in the New Zealand curriculum. Students could “describe the ideas their own and others’ objects and images communicated”. They enjoyed sharing their knowledge about different sports.



My silhouette is fencing - there are two fencers. What are those called? Are they called swords? - Luca

I chose football - it’s definitely my favourite. - Matt

I’m not happy with my silhouette. It was so hard to cut out the small parts. - Declyn

My paint went over the lines! - Blake

Can you tell mine is boxing? - Keiran

Keywords: Managing self, Olympics, visual art

2021 Graham ArtisticOlympics 03