γεια σας! (Or yeia sas, which is Greek for hello!) This week we will immerse ourselves in all things Greece. Besides learning about the people and culture of this ancient and modern civilization, we will also practice important fine and gross motor skills. We will spend time building, creating and even tasting the things that made ancient Greece famous. We hope you enjoy the trip. πάμε! (AKA, pame or “Let’s go!”) Click here to download your weekly tracker!
Note: Occasionally we include project modifications (which can be useful for including younger siblings). We’ll mark those with the minus (-) symbol.
What you need:
Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):
- If You Were Me and Lived in…Ancient Greece by Carole P. Roman
- My First Greek Myths: The Trojan Horse by Anna Goutzouri
- Echo Echo: Reverso Poems About Greek Myths by Marilyn Singer
Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):
- white cardstock
- construction paper
- glue stick
- paper cups
- 2-3 baking sheets
- paper + access to a printer (don’t have one? we like this model)
- black tempera paint
- scrap cardboard (need a piece about the size of a dinner plate)
- ingredients for these cookies
- tape measure
- green foam sheets
- pipe cleaners
- hole punch
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!
Letter of the week: G
The letter G makes two different sounds: /g/ as in Greece and grape and /j/ as in gems and gym, as you can see on the first page of the letter guide. Reinforce the sounds with our Letter of the Week Song.
Remember, the guide isn’t a worksheet! The first page is for you, the grown-up. Use it to introduce the letter name, the sounds it makes, and to demonstrate how to draw each letter. Display the Letter Guide in your school area along with the completed coloring sheet to reinforce the lesson throughout the week.
Next, use the second sheet to create a page for your child’s phonics book. Review the book a few times each week until your child has mastered these phonics.
Let’s start our week with an introduction to Greece and its ancient roots. Start by finding Greece on a world map, in an atlas, or on a globe. Use this as a chance to review the continents and help your child figure out which continent Greece is on. Next, read If You Were Me and Lived in…Ancient Greece.
Activity 1: The Acropolis is one of the most famous archaeological sites of Greece. Take a virtual tour here. Now, let’s make our own with this simple craft. This craft is simple, so let your child take the lead with cutting and pasting. You can also review the shapes used to make the structure.
Activity 2: Do you know why the Acropolis has been able to survive for so long? Part of the reason is because of the columns. Let’s do a STEM activity to learn why circle columns are so strong. Here’s a video that demonstrates this idea.
(-) This columns strength activity will test different shape strength.
- STEP 1: Take 3 pieces of paper and fold each into a different column shapes: A triangle, a square, and a circle/cylinder.
- STEP 2: Tape the ends of the folds together to secure each shape.
- STEP 3: Standing each column up, place one book at a time, carefully, onto each folded shape to see which shape provides the strongest base.
- STEP 4: Record your results!
Activity 3: What did the people wear in ancient Greece? Take a closer look at the himation, which was a garment worn by both men and women. (source) Read a few more details about it here . Now let’s play dress up! Make your own Greek costume with a sheet using this tutorial or this one.
Some of the most famous stories in the world have come from Greek myths. Let’s explore one written by the famous Greek poet Homer.
Activity 1: First, who was Homer? Homer was a famous poet who is credited with writing some of the world’s most famous stories, like The Odyssey and The Iliad. There is actually very little known about the author—some people think Homer may have been a group of people, some think he was actually a woman, some think he may have been a captive, and others think he was blind. (source) This post shows a sculpture of what some people think he may have looked like, but no one really knows. What is known is that this ancient poet wrote some of the world’s most famous stories, including the Trojan War. Let’s read a simplified version of this story in My First Greek Myths: The Trojan Horse.
Activity 2: Let’s make our own Trojan horse using this simple printable your child can color and cut.
Activity 3: Let’s pretend to be poets like Homer and write a poem of our own! Homer’s epic poems did not follow a rhyming scheme, but for our purposes, let’s write a rhyming poem. Help your child come up with the first line of their poem and scribe it for them. (It can be about anything—the sillier the better!) Then, brainstorm a list of words that rhyme with the last word of their verse. Use this list to write another line or two. You’re a poet and you didn’t even know it!
(+) Use their poem as copywork and have your child write below your sample sentence.
Today, we’ll take a closer look at how the arts and Greek lifestyle intertwined.
Activity 1: Much of what we know about life in Ancient Greece has actually been learned from their pottery. That’s because their pottery was often decorated with depictions of their popular myths and early Mediterranean life. This article shares more about how the pottery was made and decorated, and also has several pictures of Greek pottery you can show your child. Next, encourage your child to tell their own story through art with this scratch art pottery craft.
Activity 2: Another famous type of pottery that tells us more about the Greek arts are models that were made of their theatre masks. This article shows an example of one and provides some background information. You can share the information with your child, or just highlight these main points:
- Theater as we know it originated in Athens, Greece. Attending the theatre was very much a communal and civic event. Audiences were large—up to 15,000 each day—and were made up of important individuals such as the priests of Dionysos and members of the Athenian government (who had front-row seats), ordinary Athenian citizens, resident and other foreigners, perhaps women, and possibly even children and some slaves. You can see pictures of an ancient theater here.
- The actual theatre masks were made from stiffened linen, so they have not survived to our day. What we do have are representations of the masks made from clay.
- The types of masks used helped the audience to know if the play was a comedy (which often had grotesque grins and animated expressions) or a tragedy (which was usually marked by calm serious, or pained expressions).
- The masks made it easier for fewer actors to depict a variety of people (this was especially important because only men could be actors, so with masks they could also play the parts of women), and some experts believe they also amplified the actors’ voices so they could be heard at the back of the open-air theatres.
- In ancient Greece, theatre was also connected to the god Dionysos, who was the god of wine and often depicted with an ever-changing personality. As a result, many plays were performed during the three annual festivals of Dionysos, and many of the masks are also thought to be in homage to him.
Next, let’s make our own paper models of a Greek theatre mask using this tutorial.
Activity 3: Let’s have some Greek Tea + Poetry! Make these 5-ingredient Greek cookies to enjoy with tea as you read from Echo Echo: Reverso Poems About Greek Myths.
(+) If your child is particularly inspired by any of the myths, have them use their mask to act it out!
Did you know the Olympics originated in ancient Greece? This article tells us more about the origins of these famous games. Read the paragraphs at the top to your child, and then click on some of the athlete illustrations to learn about a few of the games.
Activity 1: The Olympic games were designed to honor Zeus, the king of all the Greek gods. Let’s get a quick primer of the stories behind the gods and goddess of Mount Olympus. Print two copies of these Greek mythology cards and play a game of memory. When your child finds a match, share with them the details of that god or goddess.
Activity 2: Let’s have some games of our own! Here are a few ideas to try—pick the ones your child thinks sound like the most fun, or do them all!
- Discus: The real discus was a stone or metal flat disc that competitors had to throw as far as they could. For our version, use a frisbee and see how far your child can throw it in three tries.
- Running: Running was the first event to be included in the Olympic Games. Athletes ran up and down a 192 meter track in the stadium. The Hoplitodromos was a running event where competitors ran in armor carrying heavy shields. Have your own Hoplitodromos by giving your child a bucket or a backpack filled with toys (or some other heavy object to carry) and having them run a course you lay out.
- Long jump: The ancient long jump was very different from the one we have today. There was no runup and jumpers propelled themselves by swinging weights called halteres in their arms. Create a line on the ground with chalk or masking tape and have your child try to jump as far as they can from that spot. Use a tape measurer or a yardstick to measure their jumps!
Activity 3: Declare your child the winner of your at-home Greek Olympics! The winner of an event wasn’t given a gold, silver, or bronze medal like they are in the Olympics today. Instead, they received a wreath of leaves. Let’s make our own (and work those fine motor skills!) with this simple tutorial.
First, print this template and use the leaf shapes to trace leaves onto green craft foam (or you can simply print it onto green cardstock and cut out each leaf). Be sure to mark the circles on the leaf with dots. Once you have created 15-20 leaves, use a hole punch to punch out the dots. Now you can give your child yarn or pipe cleaners to lace through the leaves. Once they have laced enough to tie around their head, tie off the crown to the correct size.
While Greece has ancient roots, make sure your child knows it is still a country today! Today, let’s learn a bit about life in modern-day Greece. Start by watching this family’s trip to Greece with two young children.
Activity 1: Print this flag + coloring sheet to show your child what the flag of Greece looks like today and let your child color it in while sharing these details about the meaning of the flag:
- The colors blue and white symbolize dedication to the Greek Orthodox faith, which is a form of Christianity. (Interestingly, the word ‘Orthodox’ takes its meaning from the Greek words orthos (‘right’) and doxa (‘belief’).)
- The flag is actually a combination of two flags: one for land and one for sea.
- On land, the flag was blue with a white cross, symbolizing “the wisdom of God, freedom and country.” At sea, the flag had five blue and four white horizontal stripes, interpreted as referring to the nine syllables in the battle cry of independence, translated as “Freedom or death.”
Activity 2: The primary language spoken in Greece is Greek! Let’s learn how to say a few Greek words in this video.
Activity 3: Music and dance are very important in Greek culture—in fact, the word “music” is actually derived from the Greek word mousiké, meaning “art of the Muses.”
In Greek mythology, the nine Muses were the goddesses who inspired literature, science, and the arts and who were the source of the knowledge embodied in the poetry, song-lyrics, and myths in the Greek culture. The traditional names and specialties of the nine Muses are: Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Erato (love poetry, lyric art), Euterpe (music, especially flute), Melpomene (tragedy), Polymnia (hymns), Terpsichore (dance), Thalia (comedy), Urania (astronomy). (source)
Music and dance are especially important in Greek celebrations, like weddings! Watch this video to learn how to do a traditional Greek wedding dance called the Hasapiko.
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