Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Library Unit On Greek Mythology

The second Percy Jackson movie will open in theaters on August 7th, just before school begins this year.  For an elementary school librarian, this is an event that needs to be used well, because it presents a fantastic opportunity for capitalizing on the interest bandwagon among the 4th, 5th and 6th graders about Percy Jackson and the Olympians book series as well as the underlying mythology stories and characters that permeate the books.

Doesn't it just scream book promotion and myth teaching for the older kids?

Especially if you add in the upcoming winter Olympics, and its roots in Ancient Greece and competition for the favor of the gods.  That is some fascinating history in its own right.

Over the last couple of weeks (as my chemo brain has allowed), I have been planning a multi-week unit to discuss Greek and Roman mythology, as well as to introduce the students to some other myths from around the world.  Am trying to piece this together so that we read a myth together and then work on activities and worksheets to further deepen their understanding of the myth, as well as how it has been used over the years as a story to impact behavior or as a warning or whatever else might be an underlying theme.

What I am hoping to do is have the kids put together their own notebook as we go through this over the course of a few weeks.  Each myth would have its own section for crafts, worksheets, and a copy of a story summary for each one.  That way, at the end of the entire process, they would have their own book of mythology that they built themselves.

There is so much new vocabulary in a lot of these stories, words that we pull from the original Greek and Roman myths that are used every day -- that alone is worth teaching all of this, I think. 

In putting all of this together, I have found some wonderful resources:

-- Literature Pockets, Greek and Roman Myths, Grades 4-6: for the Medusa craft and the Apollo poem and sun wheel craft alone, this is so worth it.  But it also has some great vocabulary worksheets and story summaries that I'll be using as well.

--Greek Mythology Activities: Activities to Help Students Build Background Knowledge About Ancient Greece, Explore the Genre of Myths, and Learn Important Vocabulary: this has a fantastic alphabetical listing of all of the Greek gods, complete with illustrations and some wonderful game and activity ideas as well.

-- Read and Understand Myths & Legends, Grades 4-6: this has some great worksheet ideas for dictionary and parts of speech practice, figuring out the elements of the stories as well as analyzing the characters, their motivations and the lessons they learn.

-- I also picked up a cheaper used copy of Jim Henson's The Storyteller - Greek Myths to supplement some of the stories as we read them in class. (Given that I start radiation shortly for breast cancer treatment, I thought having a back-up plan for a substitute would be a prudent move. Turns out these are really fun to watch and I think the kids are going to love them.) 

For other movie options, I have the following:

-- Percy Jackson And The Olympians: The Lightning Thief

-- Hercules

I have also found a number of ideas online on blogs and from Pinterest that I am trying to adapt for our school, including a mythology Jeopardy game (PDF) that you can make with some baggies, tape, a cheap shower curtain and some 3x5 cards.  (You can generate even more mythology Q & A here.)  If I can get this put together, we'll be having Jeopardy Olympics at the end of learning all of this which should be some serious fun for the kids.

All of this is still in the planning stages, as I am still deciding which myths to do.  Will post more as I firm things up a bit.

(Gorgeous photo of a statue of Pan via Darren Johnson.)

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