One day during my high school career I went up to my favorite English teacher and asked her a rather esoteric question about Greek mythology. She looked at me and said, “Actually Ticia, if I wanted to know more about Greek mythology I would go to you. You’ve probably read more than me.” Which actually set me back on my heels because she was my super cool English teacher who made Shakespeare fun, who had “fun vocabulary,” who had us learn SAT words by researching Greek and Roman mythology. I was sure she knew more than me.
That was the day I learned I was a history buff. Fast forward a few years, and I’m teaching my kids about Ancient Greece for our homeschool history and it’s so much fun. I love pulling in the random bits I learned in my English class and from my history teacher.
Ancient Greece Unit: their culture
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”
When Thomas Jefferson penned those words he was being influenced by Greek culture. Now over 200 years after he wrote those words we are still being influenced by Greek culture.
Greek Columns– To get an idea of how influential this particular piece of architecture is, take a look at our nation’s capital. You will see Greek columns there in almost every major building.
Ancient Olympic Activities– I have two different posts on this, I am putting this first one in the cultural side because we took the idea from the ancient Olympics, many different “countries” meeting to cooperate and made it into our modern Olympics.
Greek mythology lesson– This only scratches the surface of Greek mythology. I absolutely LOVE Greek mythology, and can’t wait to delve further into its’ twists and turns when the kids are older and mature enough to handle the content.
Ancient Greeks for preschool– Take a look at Greek artwork and have a go at making some of your own.
Ancient Greek unit: their history
While Greece greatly affected us by its’ massive effect on our culture, it had that effect because of their history. A few key battles lost and we wouldn’t have the Greek empire, we would have the Persian empire and how it changed the world.
Small arms combat– you need this as a basis for why Greece did so well fighting. They perfected the phalanx system that was the basis for much of ancient warfare. From there the Romans improved upon it creating the mandible system, and this style stood in good stead for almost a thousand years.
Xerxes and the Hellespont Bridge– This is one of those lesser known turning points in history. Xerxes and the Persian empire won their first battle in this war, but they stretched themselves too thin and lost a great naval battle. That would have completely changed the English language we speak now. We might be talking about the Persian origins of our language rather than the Greek origins.
The Second Persian Invasion of Greece– This would be the follow on to that first post. Xerxes created that impressive feat of engineering, and we get to see how it all plays out.
The First Olympics– Now let’s look at the historical significance of this event. Greece recognized they needed a way to unify their warring city-states and build common cause for when they were invaded and so they created the Olympic games. It’s a fascinating bit of history that we see mirrored in the 20th century when the Olympics are revived.
Ancient Greece Unit resources
Our spine was Mystery of History 1 for this unit, but being me I raided my local library and checked out about 50 books, but 50 is a long list, so I’m narrowing that list down to 20 or so ancient Greece books, but adding them to this list would make the post interminably long, so come back next Monday when I tell you my favorites.
Check out more great history ideas over at the Massive Guide to Homeschooling History