Kriss Kross, part II

I can’t believe I forgot to put this up here. I made another crossword puzzle a few weeks ago, something to keep kids busy while I was subbing for middle school study hall.

On one side of the page I copied a handout on the 12 (but really 14) Olympians. I forgot to include Hestia, dernnit. Maybe I’ll update it at some point to include her. On the other was the crossword. For some reason, middle schoolers really love crosswords. Go figure. Downloads after the jump.

Continue reading


Student Project on Founding Figures

I’ve been looking more and more at comparative mythology lately – the similarities between the myths of various cultures. Many believe that most myths have at least an original basis in some form of truth, and for that reason many mythical archetypes transfer beyond one single mythology. This in turn expands to modern mythologies; we still look to gods, heroes and god-like heroes for inspiration.

In this assessment I created for a grad school project, students will explore the ancient-modern connection more thoroughly though an in-depth look at the Aeneas myth and mythical foundation figures in general. The Latin textbook Ecce Romani introduces the myth of Aeneas early on in the first text of the series, and many teachers love to bring in Vergil’s Aeneid for more advanced students to read in translation. For younger readers, a simplified version of the epic by Emily Frenkel and Simon Weller could be used.

In Part I of the project, they will compare two mythical founders to discover what traits are found in the archetype, and write up the similarities and differences in an essay form. I gave the following as choices for their comparisons:

  • Gilgamesh (Iraq)
  • Rurik (Russia)
  • Arthur (England)
  • Jimmu (Japan)

These of course could be added to as seen fit. The variety of cultures seen here, each with a founding figure that shares traits with the others, speaks to the power of this particular archetype.

In Part II of the project, they will create their own founding myth, putting a creative spin on it and making the archetype their own. Because I am based in Chicago, I ask them to create a founding figure for this troubled city.

By looking at Aeneas, the typified Roman hero, as well as other such figures from around the world, they will discover what traits they find in those they look up to. Downloads after the jump.

Continue reading

Jason and the Golden Trivia

The 4-6th graders I’m working with were asked to read a condensed version of the Apollonius’ Argonautica. The book of choice was Jason and the Golden Fleece by James Riordan (no relation to Rick), with illustrations by Jason Cockcroft.

The book is well-written and the illustrations are gorgeous. Some liberties are taken with the myth, of course, particularly with Medea. According to the story, she and Jason live happily ever after until she dies peacefully of old age. Um, yeah… A bit off. But a good read for the 3-5th grade level.

To test their comprehension of the reading, we played a trivia game. Because these kids are obsessed with mythology, the questions are for the most part more advanced. A copy for the questions as well as a link to the book are after the jump.

Continue reading

Medea’s Day Care – “We’ll love your kids to death!”

(Woo! Long time no post!)

This summer I’m working with a group of 4-6 graders who are complete classics nerds. It’s wonderful. I told them my favorite myth figure is Medea, and they came up with the title of this post: Medea’s Day Care – “We’ll love your kids to death!” They’ve been joking about it the past two days.

So, I decided to incorporate their natural gift for irony into an enrichment activity for their program! We came up with ironic business names for various mythological characters. They really got into it! Below are some examples of their excellent work:

Cyclops Glasses

Dionysus Rehab

Hestia Dance Club

Minotaur Corn Maze

Trojan Horse Used Cars

Zeus Migraine Medicine

I think the migraine medicine is my favorite…

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.

Art Institute of Chicago Teacher’s Manual

Ok, this one is cool. I was really impressed when I stumbled upon this looking for ANY and ALL existing lesson plans on the internet for Latin and the Classics (there ain’t that many, I can tell you that).


One of the pieces linked to in this excellent teacher’s guide to the museum.

As a Chicago native, going to the Art Institute of Chicago has always been one of my favorite pastimes, and I always try to make a trip whenever I’m in town. As a classicist, I always make a beeline for the Greece/Rome exhibit. Theirs might not be as large and all-encompassing as, say, the British Museum or even NYC’s Met, but I still think it is quite impressive. What’s even more impressive is the fact that they’ve put out a whopping 155-page teacher’s guide for the pieces they do have, all available for download! Continue reading