As the near culmination (we have a small Ancient China block to come) of Teal’s fifth grade ancient civilization studies this year, we learned about Greek mythology and history. (You can see some of Teal’s work on the other ancient civilizations HERE.) We read many Greek Mythology stories two years ago, but Teal loves the stories so much I felt like it was relevant to bring them again during her fifth grade year.
- Greek Mythology and History from Donna Simmons’ Fifth Grade Syllabus
- D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths
- Ancient Greece by Charles Kovacs
- English from the Roots Up by Joegil Lundquist
- BBC’s In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great by Michael Wood
- The Waldorf Book of Poetry, ed. by David Kennedy
I followed Donna Simmons’ schedule in the fifth grade syllabus fairly closely. We began by reading about the Greek Gods and Goddesses in the D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths. Some of the activities Teal did in addition to our daily readings include; a chalk pastel drawing of Zeus, a drawing of Artemis and an accompanying summary of her story, sculpting a minotaur from clay, writing a summary of the story of Pelops and the start of the Olympic games, a summary of the story of Heracles, memorizing and copying “Hercules” by Eileen Hutchins into her MLB, copying the poem “Hymn to Prometheus” by Roy Wilkinson into her MLB, and copying the opening stanza of The Iliad into her MLB. We also read Simmons’ play “Demeter and Persephone” and ate pomegranates for lunch.
After the mythology section was complete, we dived into the Greek History section of Kovacs’ book. Teal and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the history presented by Kovacs. The stories were very well written and often included something funny that made us laugh. They really made the history feel alive! Some of Teal’s work on Greek History included; memorizing the Greek alphabet (She developed her own little tune that made it easy for her to memorize,) drawing a map of Greece, learning about and drawing the three types of Greek columns, writing an imaginary letter from a person in Athens to his cousin in Sparta, and taking a field trip to see Greek inspired columns in our city and Greek letters on the fraternities and sororities of the nearby university.
In the Simmons’ syllabus, Donna recommends making a point of drawing your child’s attention to Greek words which are a part of our language, but advises that it is not the time to get into a formal study of Greek roots. I weighed her council and thought of my little “author-to-be” Teal and decided that we would go ahead and learn a bunch of Greek root words during this main lesson block. I used the book English from the Roots Up, which was recommended by a friend many years ago. There are 37 Greek roots in the book so I split them up – six roots each week, with seven roots the first week. Teal copied the Greek root and its English translation onto little note cards, then chose two examples of words we use all the time that come from the Greek root. She and I enjoyed the activity. We casually reviewed the words each day and then moved to new words the next week. It was fun and informal, but I am pleased with how much we both learned!
Last, but not least we watched BBC’s In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great. This four-hour documentary is recommended by Donna Simmons. (We watched it over the course of four days! I don’t think it’s doable in one sitting.) When asked just now if she liked the documentary, Teal said, “I like how you ‘went’ to Alexander’s places. I liked the narrator. I thought it was a pretty good movie.” I have to admit that I did not watch this documentary before plugging it in. There was at least one comment per episode where I cringed a little inside. For example, in the first episode an Egyptian hieroglyph is mentioned in which wine in being poured over a phallus and you get to see that hieroglyph. Truthfully, my kids didn’t seem to notice any of those comments. I was just left thinking, “Hmm.”
Still to come, as a completion of our Ancient Studies this year, we are going to go to a museum and eat Greek food. The one thing I regret is not including a painting activity of some sort! I also sort of regret not making a map of Alexander’s conquests.
Thanks for visiting today!