The Olympic rings are thought to symbolise the five continents: Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and the US
The Olympic Torch was lit on May 12 at Olympia, then carried for 10 days around Greece, before arriving in Australia for a 100-day tour of more than 1,000 towns. The Olympiad opens on September 15 at Sydney Olympic Park, which seats 100,000 spectators, and closes on October 1.
Invite comparisons between the Games, past and present. How far do they reflect the contemporary culture? Investigate lost events such as horse-racing and the "dashes", and find out when basketball, handball, judo and taekwondo became Olympic sports.
The modern pentathlon includes cross-country horse-riding, fencing, pistol-shooting, swimming and cross-country running. What are the decathlon events in which Daley Thompson was the winner of gold medals in 1980 and 1984? And what is involved in the women's heptathlon?
A new triathlon makes its first appearance at the Sydney Olympics. It includes a 1.5km swim in the Sydney Harbour, a 40km bike ride and a 10km run around the city's opera house and botanic gardens.
Numbers may mean very little unless they are considered in practical terms. Distance and weight are easy to illustrate in school. The long-jump record becomes unforgettable once you have paced it out. The weight of a discus - two kilograms for men and one kilogram for women - can easily be experienced by using other heavy objects.
The same can be done with the shot, which weighs 7.6kg for men and 6.3kg for women, or the javelin, which is 2.3m long for women, 2.7m long for men, and weighs 600g and 800g respectively.
Encourage children to find everyday comparisons; the marathon is 42.195km; a half-marathon is 21km. In the Olmpics, the full race commemorates the distance - originally 39km - covered by the unknown Greek soldier who ran from Marathon to Athens to announce their victory over the invading Persians. He is known in legend as Pheidippides.
You and your sport
Encourage children to consider sports not included in the traditional school sports days, but which they might find enjoying and fulfilling. Many sports, such as rugby, tennis and Unihoc, have junior versions which are a gentle introduction to the sport. Early success can be motivating for children and participation is also beneficial to their health.
Remember that although the number of children walking to school has declined (by 28 per cent between 1976 and 1994), more than half still get to school in this manner. Despite this, only a minority of primary children are doing the recognised minimum amount of exercise a week for general fitness.
Facts and words
* The Olympic motto is citius, altius, fortius - "swifter, higher, stronger".
* The Olympic flag is five interlinking rings of blue, black, red, yellow and green. They represent the five continents joined in sport. The colours were taken from the flags of those competing in 1920.
* Mildred "Babe" Didrikson won the 80m hurdles and javelin gold medals and a silver medal in the high jump in 1932; the only person to win medals in all the areas of track and field events.
* Stadium. The word comes from the Greek word stade, which was a race the length of the arena (192.27m).
* Starting from scratch. A phrase from the Olympian foot races, which began from a line scratched in the ground.
Further reading: The Knowledge - Flaming Olympics, a new edition for Sydney 2000 by Michael Coleman is published by Scholastic Books, pound;3.99.