Teaching mythology rocks! Elementary students just can’t get enough of it. Why? Magnificent monsters. Superhuman strength. Incredible acts. Rev up your Greek mythology unit with these ELA activities for kids.
Ms. Sneed Plans for Teaching Mythology
Our favorite fourth grade teacher sat at the side table with her co-teacher.
“This month, we’re teaching Greek mythology,” said Ms. Sneed. “I’d like to focus on gods, demigods, creatures, and their deeds.”
“Perfect,” said Mr. Frank. “Obviously, it will promote cultural literacy. After all, elements of Greek mythology appear in literature. Furthermore, we can tie in allusions. That will hit one of our literature standards, CCSS RL.4.4.”
“Right,” his teacher agreed. “Cultural literacy, vocabulary. Not to mention student engagement.”
Mr. Frank chuckled. “Remember last year? Our students couldn’t get enough myths!”
Ms. Sneed smiled. “Actually, I love it too.”
Introducing Characters from Greek Mythology
“Let’s start with the fantastic story of Cronus. It’s gross and gory – just enough to pique their interest! Furthermore, he’s the father of the Olympians,” said Mr. Frank.
With a few clicks on his keyboard, he found what he was looking for. “This short history of the Greek gods will make a great introduction. You know, Cronus, ruler of the universe, believed that his children will overthrow him. Therefore, he ate them all – Demeter, Hestia, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon.”
“Yep! Gross!” Ms. Sneed said.
“Then, when Zeus was born, Cronus’s wife, Rhea, wisened up. Instead of a baby, she wrapped a stone in a blanket and presented it to Zeus. Of course, he swallowed it whole – without even looking. For years, Zeus was hidden in a cave. When he grew up, he made a solution that made Cronus vomit up his siblings.”
“Super gross!” Ms. Sneed laughed.
“And that’s why the kids love it so much. The Olympians went on to overthrow Cronus, and a new era was born.”
After pausing for a moment in thought, Mr. Frank clicked around on his laptop. “Additionally, we can play this Greek God Rap (3:37).” He clicked again and the video began.
Watching the video made them laugh. “Oh yeah,” said Ms. Sneed. “They will love all of this.”
Teaching Mythology Through Research
“By now, the kids will be really revved up about Greek mythology. Then we can set them loose with a little myth research,” said Ms. Sneed. “I found a set of 33 mythology and research coloring sheets. Every child will research one character.”
“That sounds perfect,” replied her mentor.
“One problem. I don’t have enough mythology books for the kids’ research. But – ta-da! Here’s the solution. Passages for each of these characters are also available on TpT. In addition to hard copies, kids can access them as an eBook. I think I’ll let them use the Chromebooks. No copying for me.
“For more exploration, we can also give them these links:
- Meet the Greek Gods by Rick Riordan
- Ancient Greek Gods from History for Kids
- Ancient Greek Gods for Kids from Mr. Donn
- Greek Myths for Kids
- List of gods and goddesses by Molly Schwichtenberg
The two teachers looked at the clock. “Time to get going,” said Mr. Frank. “I’m really looking forward to teaching mythology!”
Displaying Kids’ Mythology Research
A few weeks later, Mr. Frank visited Ms. Sneed’s classroom. “Wow, I love your myth characters display!” he exclaimed.
“Haha! Thanks!” said Ms. Sneed. “The kids are drawn to it like magnets. I have to pry them away from it every morning.”
Teaching Mythology with Opinion and Persuasive Pieces
“How can we keep momentum?” Mr. Frank asked. “At this point, kids are really excited about Greek myths. And I love teaching mythology too! We’re not ready to give them up. What will we do next?”
“I beat you to it,” said Ms. Sneed. “Argumentative writing about myths! My kids have already begun writing one-paragraph opinion pieces. Earlier this week, they considered which Greek god to invite to dinner. In first person, they explained their choice.
“Now they’re writing persuasive pieces. The kids switched to second person, directing their writing to the audience using the pronoun you. The topic? Which Greek god or goddess would make the best president. Actually, some of them did really well on the first piece. So I’m having them write five paragraphs.”
“How fun!” exclaimed her teaching partner.
“Here, look at these pieces. I’m so proud of these kids.”
“Wow,” said Mr. Frank, “I can’t wait to get started on these.”
Teaching Mythology Allusions
She handed Mr. Frank a set of papers. “That’s a comprehensive list!” he said.
“Yep, 40 terms.
“Actually, I found a full-blown unit on allusions to Greek mythology. In addition to the terms and definitions, it offers printable cards and an ebook. Furthermore, kids can read how these words came into our language. And – of course – there’s a test. Everything we need!”
“Oh yeah,” said Mr. Frank. “You’ve nailed it again. This is a great little unit.”
The corners of Ms. Sneed’s mouth turned up. She sure did love it when her partner said that.
Over the course of her career, Ms. Sneed realized that there were 6 steps to enjoy teaching. In order to survive, she had to organize, plan, and simplify. Then, to thrive, Ms. Sneed needed to learn, engage, and finally – dive in! Follow the Fabulous Teaching Adventures of Ms. Sneed and learn how you can enjoy teaching too.