Ancient Greece Unit Study: Week 4

We begin our final week of Greek studies by learning about ancient Greek inventions and government. We will learn about the lasting impact the Greeks have had on our modern world and their influence in our lives. Download our skills and books tracker for your records.

What you need:

Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):

Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):

Note: We break down our supply list by so you can choose what you need based on which lessons you plan to do with your child.

Trireme craft:

Build a catapult:

Pipe pan craft:

Make Greek coins:

Rennet experiment:

Rennet custard recipe:

What to do:

We recommend doing the below lessons in this order to build on each skill your child will develop, but don’t feel that you *need* to do them in this order. Do what works for you and your child. If they love an activity, feel free to repeat! Not a winner? Skip and try the next thing. Have fun!

Lesson 1:

Another important part of ancient Greek life? Battle! Because of their geographic location, many Greek battles took place at sea, and the trireme was one of the key tools of war. Let’s learn more about these incredibly fast ships.

Activity 1: Read about Themistocles in the book Ancient Greece for Kids. You can see an up-close picture of a trireme here.

Activity 2: Use this instructional video to create one of the three artistic versions of trireme.

Activity 3: Writing. Let’s add an additional entry to our Greek journal. Over the past three weeks, your child has learned a lot about ancient Greek people, their stories, the places they built, and the food they ate. For this final entry, ask them to imagine themselves as a traveler in those times. Write about what they might see on a visit to ancient Greece. Include a picture of the ship in your entry.

This assignment is a mixture of creative writing (because they are being asked to use their imaginations) but also an opportunity to connect with the material they have learned so far. Help reluctant writers by reviewing the lessons, books, and topics covered over the past three weeks. Which people or food or places did they enjoy learning about? If they struggle to write, encourage them to type on the computer or record a digital log (think Star Trek captain’s log!) The point is to organize their thoughts and tell a story, not to work on the mechanics of writing.

Lesson 2:

Let’s learn about some famous Greek inventions.

Activity 1: Read + Discover. Read page 78 in Usborne’s Greeks book to learn about several inventors and their discoveries. Point out the crossbow and the catapult, which are two of the inventions highlighted at the bottom. 

Activity 2: Watch this video to see what we are going to build today! As the video says, we are using elasticity to make a catapult. Unfortunately, there aren’t printed instructions on their website, so watch and pause the video as you build it. 


  • 13 pencils 
  • 20 rubber bands 
  • 1 medium size popsicle stick
  • 1 plastic spoon
  • mini marshmallows, pom poms, or crumpled pieces of paper

Activity 3: Another invention depicted in the Usborne Greeks book is Archimedes’ screw. We learned about him last week. Let’s make our own version of this device

Lesson 3:

Another art form you found a lot in ancient Greece? Music! Let’s tune in to what you might have heard back then.

Activity 1: Read + Discover. Read Usborne Greeks pages 54 and 55 to learn about the instruments used in ancient Greece. 

Activity 2: Next, make a pan pipe craft.

Activity 3: Music also played a part in Greek mythology. This story of Orpheus and Eurydice includes a lyre that has made its way into some famous paintings as well. (Read over the story before sharing it with your child to make sure the theme is appropriate for your family.) This story inspired many famous art pieces such as this one by Louis Ducis and this one by French artist Jean Raoux and this painting by Peter Paul Rubens. Although the lyre doesn’t make an appearance in this sculpture by Auguste Rodin, it is inspired by the same myth. 

Activity 4: We don’t know what ancient Greek music sounded like, but we can listen to some possibilities for fun. Listen to these tunes. Does it make you want to dance or move? Go for it!

Lesson 4:

One of the most lasting impacts of ancient Greece is their forms of government. Let’s learn more about it today.

Activity 1: Read + Discover. There were various forms of government that were tried in Ancient Greece. The four most common systems of Greek government were:

  • Democracy: rule by the people (in Greece these were male citizens)
  • Monarchy: rule by an individual who had inherited his role
  • Oligarchy: rule by a select group of individuals
  • Tyranny: rule by an individual who had seized power by unconstitutional means

Read the details about each form here.  

Next, read about the influence of the ancient Greek government on today’s modern-day governments in this post. (If you are living in the UK, you will be able to view the videos on that site, too. If not, you can read the transcript.)

Activity 2: Let’s make Greek coins using clay, stamps (or you can carve your own designs), and metallic paint using this post as inspiration.

Lesson 5:

For our final food history lesson of this unit, we’ll learn about a popular (and delicious) Greek cheese, feta.

Activity 1: Feta is a type of cheese that originates in Greece. In fact, according to Greek mythology, the gods sent Aristaios, son of Apollo, to teach Greeks the art of cheese making. In the story by Homer, Cyclope Polyfimos was the first to prepare cheese. In the story, he is transporting the milk that he collected from his sheep in skin bags made of animal stomachs, and one day he realized to his great surprise that the milk had curdled and had taken on a solid, tasty, and conservable form. (source) Watch this video for a more truthful history of cheese

Activity 2: Science application. Let’s learn about the chemistry of cheese making. Watch this video for a scientific explanation of what makes cheese happen. 

As the video mentioned, in order to get the milk to become cheese, one must add either an acid or an enzyme to get the molecules to stick to each other and form a solid structure. The enzymes commonly used today when making cheese are known as rennet. You can find rennet by another name too, junket. 

Activity 3: Let’s get into the kitchen to learn more about the enzyme used to make cheese as we prepare a rennet custard. Begin by watching this video for a history of this dessert. (We’ll prepare a recipe in Activity 4. First, let’s understand the science.)

For our experiment, let’s see when the rennet will have a chemical reaction in cow’s milk. We will use three temperatures of milk to test if that affects the chemical reaction of the rennet.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Using masking tape and a pen, label each cup as follows: “cold”, “110℉/43℃”, “160℉/71℃”. Mix a tablet of rennet and one tablespoon of water and then divide equally into each custard cup. Set aside.
  2. Add cold milk to the cup that is labeled “cold” and stir.
  3. Add warm milk that has been heated to 110℉/43℃  to the cup labeled “110℉”/ “43℃”, and stir.
  4. Add boiled milk that has been heated to 160℉/71℃ to the third cup labeled “160℉” or “71℃”, and stir.
  5. Refrigerated for 2 hours or until set.

Observations: Once the solution chills, compare the three cups. Which cup has firm custard? Which fails to set? What temperature causes the rennet to alter the milk? 

Activity 4: Let’s make this Rennet Custard recipe today. 

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Published by The Learn + Live Letter

The Learn + Live Letter is a play- and project-based homeschool curriculum for children ages 3-12.

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