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Up on Mount Olympus

About this Daily Classroom Special:
Up on Mount Olympus—A Study of Greek Mythology was written  by former Teachers Network web mentor, Lisa Kihn, a math and language arts teacher at Nevin Platt Middle School in Boulder, Colorado.

Up on Mount Olympus—A Study of Greek Mythology

Subjects: Language Arts
Grades:  5-8

Text: Greek Mythology by Evslin and Evslin and any other Greek mythology or history books that may be available at your school or pubic library.

Begin by orally giving the students a brief history of the Greek gods to pique their interest. This can be done in a variety of ways. I show them pictures on the overhead projector and briefly explain each of the god’s stories. You may also show a video or filmstrip. I then read aloud the first stories in the Greek Mythology book by Evslin and Evslin. I ask for student volunteers to act out the stories in a Reader’s Theater format as I read the story again. I try to include the whole class. This is a very high-energy, enjoyable activity that motivates the students to want to learn more about Greek mythology.


Hand out The 12 Major Greek Gods Worksheet and the Greek and Roman Gods Worksheet

Ask each student to draw a colored picture of one of the gods or goddesses to display in the classroom. Have them think about what their god would look like and include a symbol that would be appropriate for each god (a hand-held mirror for Aphrodite or a crown for Zeus, for example). Post these around the room.

Quiz students on the 12 major gods by reading aloud the name of each god and asking them to spell the name correctly and write an appropriate description.


Teach the Greek Word Stems. Use the following worksheets to guide your teaching.

Greek Word Stem Worksheet.

Greek Word Origins Worksheet

After students have studied the word stems, administer the Greek Word Stem Quiz.


Students read copies of The Twelve Labors of Hercules. As they read they will take notes on each of the twelve labors. Then they will illustrate them in a comic book format.

Students read several myths on their own and respond to them in their reading journal. I often have them illustrate their responses as well.


Greek Newspaper Project 

Hand out the Greek Newspaper Project requirements after students have spent some time studying the myths and heroes. I have students work individually or in pairs. Contact your local newspaper to see if they offer tours of their offices and printing press. Some newspapers have education departments that provide teachers with handouts describing all the parts of the newspaper and the news writing process. Students use this as background information when publishing their own newspaper. It is fun to post all the finished projects around the classroom and celebrate the end of the unit while reading the various “news” stories.


As a culminating event, I teach my students how to write and perform plays. We then stage short one-act Greek myths for students in other classes.  After students have read several myths, assign them to small groups of 3 to 5 students. Ask them to write a Greek mythology skit to perform in front of the class. I allow students to pick their groups and also pick the myth they would like to write in the form of a script. I show several examples of scripts and teach a mini-unit on writing them. After the script is completed, the students can practice and perform their skit. They can make costumes, props, and scenery to enhance their production. The students always have lots of fun doing this.

Writing Greek Mythology Plays

Assessment Rubrics for grading the Greek Newspaper Project.


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