From kids who play soccer at recess to adults who wave their team’s flag, belt out songs at games, and can’t resist yelling goooooaaaaallll when their teams score, there’s no doubt that soccer is an exciting sport especially as all eyes turn to Brazil, the host country of the 2014 World Cup.
I love the game of soccer. I grew up playing and played throughout high school, had the thrill of watching a USA vs Brazil World Cup semifinal game when World Cup was hosted by the United States in 1994, and watched Brazil play in their home stadium during a pre-kid trip to Rio de Janiero. Now I spend my Saturday mornings rooting for my daughter and her teammates as they enjoy the same game that I loved as a kid.
Whether your family is new to soccer or placing friendly wagers with friends on which team will be the champion, it’s a great time to get to use the excitement about World Cup soccer to teach your child world geography, game related vocabulary, global music, and the game itself. Here are some of the best sites with World Cup related content that can be used to teach and reinforce skills this summer.
Understanding the Game of Soccer
Called futbol in some countries and soccer in others, regardless of what you call the game, it’s fairly easy to understand. The rules do become a bit more complicateddepending on the level of play so rules that you’re used to abiding by at recess or during weekend games with your team, might differ when watching World Cup. According to Kids Play Soccer, there are 17 laws to know. Get to know them by watching this video together.
Just a warning, it goes fast so your kids let your kids pause it between each rule and don’t be surprised if they ask to watch it repeatedly! You can also direct them to Kids Play Soccer’s Basic Soccer Rules to read the different laws at their own pace.
Get to Know Brazil
Brazil may be the host of this year’s World Cup but give your child some context around what this means with a little geography lesson.
If you’ve seen Rio or Rio 2, these movies serve as a way to start conversation about this faraway land with young ages. Brazilian director Carlos Saldanha created the movies to be a love letter to his hometown of Rio and the visual accuracy of visual accuracy of the movie’s black and white sidewalk mosaics in Copacabana and Ipenema, Sugarloaf Mountain’s cable cars, and the Corcovado that towers above the city are a great way for kids to see a bit of the country that serves as the host of World Cup.
Next pull out a globe to help your children locate Brazil. Talk about how it’s located in the southern hemisphere. Point out the equator that divides the halves of the globe and show them how the United States is in the northern hemisphere. Young children will be better able to understand where in the world Brazil is with the help of a concrete example like a globe while older children could use an atlas.
For facts, geography, people and culture, history, and information about the government and economy, no one does a better job than this article about Brazil on National Geographic Kids that’s perfect for early elementary ages and younger. It’s also a great place to learn about other teams competing for soccer’s top honor through the World Cup.
Find the Locations of Various World Cup Venues
World Cup is being held in cities all over the country of Brazil. Take a look at the different host cities through this map on the FIFA website. The FIFATV YouTube channel features a video about each one of the different host cities on Destination: Brazil 2014.
Learn About the Competing Teams
Visit the FIFA site and click on Teams to get a pull down list of teams in alphabetical order, use the bottom navigation of that same pull-down list to locate teams by continent, or use the interactive map of the world. Regardless of how you take a look at who is playing, there are some great lessons to be learned about what continent each country is located in and alphabetical order of the country names.
Look at the World Cup Schedule
World Cup matches begin on Thursday, June 12 with the final concluding just over a month later on Sunday, July 13. There are multiple teams playing each day and at different times. To view the schedule, visit the Matches page on the FIFA website. This easy to navigate page features each country’s flag next to the name of the country for a fabulous visual and way for kids to get to know flags of the world but take a look at the times of the matches- they’re in a 24 hour format!
The 24 hour clock, or military time, listing of the matches provides an important lesson on why time is expressed in this way and how to read it when we’re used to a 12 hour clock. Hint: Have your kids subtract 12 from the time they see on the screen to know the time of the match they’re looking to watch!
Another hint: Under the line that separates the date and the names of the countries playing that day, there’s a “Change to your time” link in the upper right corner. Click it and the times will change to your time zone. Magic! Just don’t tell your kids about this feature if you want to teach them about how to tell time on a 24 hour clock!
Enhance Your Soccer Vocabulary with World Cup Themed Word Puzzles
- Search for the countries that qualified for this year’s World Cup through an online word search. Here’s a more difficult version!
- Match World Cup trivia questions and answers trough this interactive quiz on ESOLCourses.com
- Test your word jumble skills by unscrambling soccer related words
- Self-check your answers or click to get a hint as you complete this online crossword puzzle to match soccer related words to their spots
Enjoy the Music of Brazil and Learn this Year’s Soccer Anthems
We Are One (Ole Ola) is the official song of the 2014 World Cup but you can learn the words to past popular songs like Wavin’ Flag, Shakira’s Waka Waka, or Sign of Victory by R. Kelly by watching the video and filling in gaps to the lyrics using words in a word box.
If you’re looking for more traditional Brazilian music, immerse yourself in my Sounds of Brazil playlist that I created on Spotify. SpotifyLovesFootball.com also provides a different look at the game by featuring interviews and playlists from stars of the tournament and artists, as well as articles exploring the history of the game and its relationship with music. Fans can also find the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014 official playlist, playlists celebrating the musical culture of the host nation, selections from tournament stars Wayne Rooney, Kaká, and David Luiz, and celebrity fans such as Shakira, Jennifer Lopez, Lupe Fiasco, Avicii, and Ricky Martin.
Read More About Soccer
In addition to all of the fabulous online content above, here are some World Cup and soccer themed books to get in the spirit of the game:
- The Soccer Book ($19.95 and features a colorful World Cup bracket)
- The Official 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Kids’ Handbook ($9.95)
- The Official 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Fact File ($12.95)
- Magic Tree House Soccer on Sunday ($12.99)
- Magic Tree House Fact Tracker: Soccer ($5.99)
Hosting a World Cup Party?
Activity Village has all the printables you need for a fun party as you cheer on favorite teams. Bookmarks, booklets, worksheets, word puzzles, coloring pages, and more are available for purchase as a downloadable bundle with 77 pages. Hooray for one stop shopping!
Amazon Affiliate links are included in this post.