Purpose: To develop a better understanding of the Greek city-states.
Children can easily become confused when studying the ancient Greek
civilization. Some can understand that these people were all Greeks. Others
can understand that these people were loyal to their city-state. Most have
trouble putting these two ideas together.
Positioning: This 4-5 day unit may be taught anytime during
your study of ancient Greece, but works extremely well positioned immediately
before any comparison of Athens and Sparta.
Paper, crayons, colored pencils, or paint
A bag of bows (red, white, and blue) to use as prizes
Tape recorder, music
Materials you need for the games
5 sets of jacks
at least 2 baskets and 6 light weight balls
shoeboxes prepared for random drawings (tongue-twisters, art)
box filled with items (for memory game)
paper javelins, or purchased toss games (we used some from the dollar
a watch to wear, with a second hand, or some kind of timer
copies of each city-state's pledge (to hand to the students, if
Introduce the Greek Olympics to your class. Explain that the Olympics
were so important to the ancient Greeks that wars were stopped, to allow
participants to attend. So important were these Olympic games to the ancient
Greeks, that we are going to hold our own Olympics. In ancient Greece, each
city-state sent a team to represent them in these famous games. At
our Olympics, we will have representatives from 5 different city-states.
TO BE GREEK: The ancient Greeks all spoke the same language. They believed
in the same gods. They shared a common heritage. They perceived themselves
TO BE A CITIZEN OF A CITY-STATE: They referred to themselves,
however, as citizens of their individual city-states. Each city-state was
a separate political unit, having its own personality, goals, customs and
laws. Ancient Greeks were very loyal to their city-state.
What I want you to do now is to break up into 5 groups.
HANDOUT: Give each group the handout on Profiles of 5 Greek
City-States. Direct your students to read this material, to discuss it in
their group, and to start designing their flag and pledge, plus whatever
else they might wish to design. Tell your students that they will be reading,
or performing their pledge (as pledges can be read, sung, chanted, or performed
as a cheer) at the opening of the Olympics. Each class will be doing this
same activity, so keep an eye out for your fellow Argives, Spartans, Athenians,
Corinthians, and Megarians.
Have books or material on flags of the world available for their use,
if available, to give them some ideas. If possible, also have a collection
of various pledges available for them to use as examples. Offer help on pledges
Greet your class at the door.
Prepare for the Olympics!
Continue working in groups. Finish flags, pledge, and any other material.
HANDOUT: Give each group the handout on the Olympic Events (or
one you created, with events of your choice). Have each team select one
representative, plus an alternate, for events that require a single
representative. Make sure they hand these sheets in, so that you know who
will be representing each city-state in single representative events. Remind
your Olympians that they will need to select a song to hum, for the Music
Appreciation event. Encourage them to practice the tongue-twisters, to use
secret handshakes and salutes, and to start plotting with other city-state
DAY THREE & DAY FOUR
Run the Olympics!
PREPARATION: Set up your classroom to make room for the games. Shove
furniture out of the way as much as possible. Put together desks (or use
a table) in the center of the room. Put a podium or a table in the corner.
Clear your bulletin boards to make room for the flags of your city-states
per class. Hang five signs - one sign per city-state, so the students know
where to hang their flags. Have something available to use to hang the flags
and stick on the bows.
OLYMPICS OPERATION: Surprise your students! As they prepare to march into
the classroom in the opening procession, play music. (We used the theme from
Star Wars). When the lead team (Argives) stop at the podium, stop the music.
Greet your Olympians!
Hail athletes from Argos, famous Greek
Hail athletes from Athens, famous Greek scholars!
Hail athletes from Corinth, famous Greek traders!
Hail athletes from Megara, famous Greek colonizers!
Hail athletes from Sparta, famous Greek warriors!
In ancient Greece, the Olympics were held in honor of
Zeus. Today, our Olympics will be held in honor of the Ancient Greeks.
Have each city-state read or perform their pledge! Hail each one!
When all city-states have been individually honored, open the games with
something like this:
All hail the Ancient Greeks. HAIL HAIL! Honored Olympians,
post your flags, and let the games BEGIN!
(Hang flags on the wall. This not only looks very nice, but gets the flags
out of the way, and designates each team area within the room.)
FINAL NOTE: If you run your Olympics for two days, open the second day
with the opening processional, again. Play your music. These are the Olympics.
Enter and exit the games with fanfare!
CLEAN UP: Have the students clean up the room, to prepare for the next
class. Close by reminding the students that in ancient Greece, competitors
at the Olympics won nothing except perhaps a laurel wreath. But today,
since we are honoring the ancient Greeks, we will honor them with something
they have would have enjoyed - one piece of candy per child. Distribute
DISMISSAL: As your students exit for their next class, stand at the
Hail Greek athletes from Argos, Athens, Corinth, Megara, and
Sparta! All Greece thanks and honors you!