It Came From Greek Mythology…

…sounds like a terrible horror movie from the mid-‘50s. It is in fact an excellent resource from our friends at the National Endowment for the Humanities! Their EDSITEment page has tons of lesson plans and other teaching resources for social studies, language arts, art and foreign languages, and one such fine example is found in this unit for Greek mythology.

Caravaggio’s Narcissus – One of the more “modern” references to mythology utilized in this lesson plan.

Most lesson plans I’ve found online are the basic “who’s who,” usually featuring a worksheet that compares the Greek and Roman names for the Olympians. Frankly, I find this quite boring. As I TA’d my university’s mythology class, the focus was quite different, and in my opinion much more interesting. We looked at the ancient takes on the myths, but also modern ones, listening to arias from famous operas, reading English poetry, and watching the occasional episode of Mr. Rogers.

This is the approach of the NEH lesson plan. The first classroom activity, for example, uses an audio interview with Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series. (Many students middle-school-aged and older will be familiar with his works, either from the books or the mediocre 2010 film, so they’ll be able to relate.) Then students discuss the connections between mythological heroes and more modern ones, like superheroes. Another activity features an online scavenger hunt, where the students use websites of most excellent art museums for famous works of art that depict various stories from Ovid.

The author of the lesson plan recommends it for grades 3-5, but I think it could easily be adapted for higher grades. Throw in a 2-4 page writing assignment and some Shakespearean references, perhaps, and you’re golden. Also try hunting around for other images of myths (not hard to find) to expand the scope of the unit.

Here’s that link again: It Came From Greek Mythology.

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