A study of Ancient Greece stirs the imaginations of students, and provides essential background for understanding U.S. history and government.
There are lots of excellent books for this study:
- Ancient Greece (DK Eyewitness Books) is, like all DK books, richly illustrated and filled with information. Some people find DK books “busy”, but we’re fans.
- D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths is written for kids — clearly, without anything inappropriate for the classroom, but also without leaving out any essential bits. The drawings are wonderful, too.
- National Geographic Treasury of Greek Mythology is a particularly beautiful book, with illustrations by Christina Balit and very clear retellings of the ancient tales by Donna Jo Napoli. The book also includes lots of additional data on the stars and planets, literary traditions, and Ancient Greek culture.
- Spend the Day in Ancient Greece: Projects and Activities that Bring the Past to Life is a fun book with hands-on activities that help make the information clear.
- Classical Kids: An Activity Guide to Life in Ancient Greece and Rome is another activity-based book, with everything from costumes to food to games.
- Ancient Greece!: 40 Hands-On Activities to Experience This Wondrous Age is one more hands-on activity book — there’s just so much in a study of Ancient Greece that lends itself to this approach!
- History Pockets: Ancient Greece has a nice collection of reproducible projects that can be done separately or combined to make a book. Great for Open House!
- Ancient Greece has writing prompts ad thought-provoking activities for middle school and up.
- Ancient Greece Thematic Unit from Teacher Created uses the D’Aulaire and Eyewitness books discussed above, plus hands-on activities.
- Discovery Education has a research-based lesson plan that gives a great foundation for a study of Ancient Greece.
- Core Knowledge Lessons on Ancient Greece, plus its companion page
- Universal Artists has a good basic resource site at AncientGreece.com.
- Mr. Donn’s Ancient Greece unit
- Emory University’s Odyssey Online is a fun multimedia experience
Some of our favorite lesson plans for Ancient Greece:
- Explore Greek mythology with Persephone and Demeter Lesson Plans and the Weather Gods Smackdown. Have students choose their favorite god or hero from the Greek pantheon and create a trading card or poster board presentation about him or her.
- Connect Greek mythology with your study of astronomy. Start with Pluto Lesson Plans. Use Google Sky to explore heavenly bodies, and then have students look up the corresponding stories in Greek mythology. Note that some of our planets and constellations use Roman names for characters also found in Greek mythology.
- Spend some time learning about the Ancient Greek Olympics and comparing them with the modern Olympics. Use Venn diagrams to capture the differences and similarities. Then have students write a report about the modern Olympics from the point of view of an Ancient Greek time traveler.
- Family relationships in Ancient Greece were very different from those in modern American families. Challenge students to write a situation comedy set in Ancient Greece. Analyze modern situation comedies centering on families to understand how modern families are portrayed. Research Ancient Greek family dynamics. Then have students create an overall plan for a Ancient Greek family situation comedy and write a trailer for the new series coming up on TV. Create a script and a storyboard for the trailer — film it if that’s practical for your classroom.
- Have students enjoy a Google Earth tour of the Acropolis. Many people believe that Ancient Greece is in many ways the foundation of our civilization, while others would say that our modern society is completely alien from Greece. Organize a debate on this question, having students on both sides research and present evidence for their positions.