My favorite high school English teacher always loved to talk about "teachable moments" — the rare, unplanned instances when circumstances present amazing opportunities for learning. Teachers love these moments, and as parents, we can learn to capitalize on them as well.

The Olympics are a prime example of such a teachable moment. Children of all ages are fascinated by the Olympics, so parents can easily turn the excitement of watching the games into valuable lessons that are both interesting and educational.

1. Geography

Over 200 nations are expected to compete this summer — so it's doubtful that anyone could locate them all on a map. You and your children can get a crash course in geography by watching the Parade of Nations during today's Opening Ceremonies, and then hunting for each represented nation on a map or globe. Try turning it into a game by competing to see who can locate each country first.

2. Mathematics

Olympic mathematics can be as simple as calculating scores, but the games can also be used to teach more complex math skills such as fractions, graphing, and even word problems.

3. Sportsmanship

Olympic history is filled with examples of sportsmanship, both good and bad — just read Time magazine's Brief History of Olympic Sore Losers for some of the worst. Often, seeing poor sportsmanship first hand is all it takes to teach children a valuable lesson in how to behave on (and off) the field.

4. World History and Culture

Popular athletes from other countries can offer wonderful opportunities to learn about the world — I first learned about the Berlin Wall and divide between East and West Germany from watching figure skater Katerina Witt during the 1988 Winter Olympics.

5. Research Skills

Head to your local library (or just turn to Google) to learn more than you do by watching the Olympics on television. Encourage your kids to research why the Olympics first began in ancient Greece, or how the torch and interlocking rings became important symbols of the games. And if you really want to crack the whip, ask for a written or oral report.

6. Science

Olympic athletes need to be talented, but there's also some serious science behind their success. NBC Learn has partnered with the National Science Foundation to produce Science of the Summer Olympics and Science of Winter Olympics, short video segments which demonstrate the scientific principles at play in different Olympic events.

7. Physical Education

Almost 75% of American children don't get enough exercise — so if the Olympics teach our children just one lesson, hopefully it's the importance of physical activity. First Lady Michelle Obama is even encouraging Olympic Fun Day meetups in communities across the country as part of her Let's Move! initiative, so that kids can support their favorite athletes by getting active themselves.

Using the Olympics to inspire our nation of sedentary kids to get moving and get healthy? Prime example of capitalizing on a teachable moment — well played, Michelle, well played.