Capturing the Olympic Moment

9, 10, 11, 12

The learners will attend the Special Olympics events that include their assigned Special Olympics participant and use their knowledge of the camera and picture taking techniques to photograph the participant during their event(s). They will select photos and key words/phrases that will be used in the development of a portfolio that will culminate in the development of a portfolio display.

PrintTwo to Three Fifty-Five Minute Class Periods (Exclusive of the time needed for film processing and development.)

The learner will:

  • donate time to a Special Olympics participant.
  • photograph their assigned Special Olympics participant 'in action'.
  • take notes on their action pictures.
  • develop a photo display.
  • share their portfolio with their assigned participant to reflect their feelings about their day together.


  • A camera with film or digita lmemory
  • Notebook or pad to record photo information
  • Picture album (Optional)
Teacher Preparation 

This lesson requires the learners to have a camera (and film or memroy card). An inexpensive disposal camera will be sufficient. This lesson also requires a means to develop the film/print the film. This lesson will also require the learners to be at the Special Olympics site in order to photograph their Special Olympics' participant. Specific Field Trip permission, as required by your particular school district, will need to be obtained and/or arrangements for the learners and participants to arrive in the proper location at the appropriate time will also need to be scheduled.

Home Connection 

Families, friends, and community members will be encouraged to attend the Special Olympic Games in the local community. Fliers can be sent to the homes of the school population and also be posted in strategic locations throughout the town/city.

  • For related Units and Lessons, see also
  • For Special Olympic Information:


  1. Anticipatory Set

    On the day of the scheduled Special Olympics photo shoot, greet the learners as they enter the classroom with a camera tied around your neck and a notebook in your hand while playing the opening/theme song of the Olympics in the background. On the display board, place the words serviceand philanthropy and remind the learners that today they will be providing a philanthropic service to their school community (giving of there time/talent/treasure for the common good). Tell the class that they will need to make sure that they have their needed supplies and personal belongings before heading to the bus (or other arranged transportation). Share a quick review of why the class is doing this project, some appropriate expectations and sports etiquette as well as safety reminders. Distribute the Program of Events and take time to be sure that each learner knows when and where his/her assigned participant will be performing. Once everyone has arrived at the Special Olympics site.

  2. The learners will take their equipment with them and their Program of Events.

  3. They will accompany their assigned participant to the appropriate Special Olympics' competition area (s).

  4. They will remain together throughout the scheduled event(s)/day depending on the arrangements made.

  5. Each learner will take a total of at least 24 pictures of their assigned participant 'in action.' (Some participants may be competing in more than one event.)

  6. Once the film has been developed, instruct the learners that they are toselect photos and organize them in a preliminary photo layout/portfolio complete with their notes, both of which will be shared with their assigned participant during the time set aside for this activity.

  7. Instruct the learners that they are to share their preliminary portfolio with their assigned participant and that together they will need to review and discuss the portfolio and make any agreed upon additions/deletions/changes.

  8. Inform the learners and the participants that each portfolio will be on display during a 'public showing' intended to enhance school and community awareness of the event, recognize/honor all ofthe school's Special Olympics participants, and promote volunteerism in future Special Olympics and/or other such civil society organizations.

  9. Conclude this lesson, 1) by having the learners and their assigned participant select one photo from among their portfolio of pictures to feature in a large backdrop display for all the portfolios, and 2) by having the learner and his/her Special Olympics participant identify a word or phrase to be added to the backdrop display that reflect and capture their feelings about their day together.


The quality of the learner's involvement in the event(s) of the day, i.e. his/her dedication to the assigned Special Olympics participant, the understanding of camera usage and picture taking, along with the sharing, editing and the mutual development of the portfolio, will be assessed.

Cross Curriculum 

As a part of this lesson, the learners will attend a Special Olympics' event(s) involving the Special Olympic participants from their school community.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define philanthropy to include giving and sharing; volunteering; and private individual action intended for the common good. Explain how a volunteer individual/group can act for the common good.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
    2. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Provide a needed service.
      2. Benchmark HS.3 Describe the task and the student role.
      3. Benchmark HS.4 Demonstrate the skills needed for the successful performance of the volunteer job.
      4. Benchmark HS.5 Articulate and demonstrate the safety procedures that are part of the volunteer experience.
      5. Benchmark HS.6 Describe the procedures and the importance of sensitivity to the people with whom students are working.
    3. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Identify outcomes from the service.