Ancient Greek Olympics for elementary and middle school Kids and Teachers, a Simulation for the Classroom, 4-5 day mini unit with handouts and instructions Illustration

Simulation for the Classroom!

Students' Section

The Olympic Games began in ancient Greece in 776 BC.  But, for this simulation, it's around 480 BC and many games have been added to the original Olympic lineup. You are an Olympian contestant, representing your city-state at the Olympic games!

Scroll Down for background on the five Greek City-States with contestants in this competition - Athens, Sparta, Megara, Corinth, Argos  You will need to read these short and humorous backgrounds so you and your team will know how to behave at the games. Good luck!  May the mighty Zeus be with you! 


Opening Procession

Tongue Twisters

Stickyball (Javelin)

Music (Humming)

Boxing (Items in a Box)

Ball in a Basket

Art Recognition

Knucklebones (Jacks)

Award Presentation

Closing Procession

Olympic Coordinators
(Teachers Section)


Simulation Operation

Supportive Links / FAQs


Background on the five Greek City-States in this competition - Sparta, Athens, Corinth, Argos, Megara


You are a Spartan! Be proud! You have endured unbelievable pain and hardship to become a superior Spartan soldier and citizen! Taken away from your parents at age 7, you lived a harsh and often brutal life in the soldiers barracks. You were beaten by older children who started fights to help make you tough and strong. You were often were whipped in front of groups of other Spartans, including your parents, but never cried out in pain. You were given very little food, but encouraged to steal food, instead. If caught stealing, you were beaten. To avoid severe pain, you learned to be cunning, to lie, to cheat, to steal, and how to get away with it! Some of you are members of the Spartan secret police and enjoy spying on slaves. If you find a slave who is showing signs of leadership, you have orders to kill them immediately. You are fierce, capable, and proud of your strength. You know you are superior and are delighted to be Spartan!

Spartan Goals and Behavior at the Olympics: Win at all costs. Lie, cheat, do whatever it takes. If you can't win, at least beat your archrival, those silly citizens of Athens. You are the proud and fierce Spartans! Dress alike with matching arm bands or buttons. Be loud but polite to your teacher who is your superior officer. Be on time. Be disciplined. Keep records. Make up a chant for Sparta, and chant it, while marching in unison, wherever you go. Make up a secret salute, and salute your fellow Spartans. Plot secretly with other Greek city-states to sabotage any Athenian chance at victory. Cheer only for your fellow Spartans at each event. Lie, cheat, steal, but do not get caught, because that is the Spartan way. Good luck at the games.


You are an Athenian! Be courteous. You have been superbly educated in the arts and the sciences, and trained to be extremely productive and capable in times of peace or war. You are an achiever. Until age 6 or 7, you were taught at home by your mother, or by a male slave. From age 7-14, you attended a day school in the neighborhood where you memorized Homeric poetry and learned to play that magnificent instrument, the lyre. You learned drama, public speaking, reading, writing, math, and perhaps even how to play the flute. You attended four years of higher school, and learned more about math and science and government. At 18, you attended military school for two additional years! You are proud to be an Athenian! Famed for its literature, poetry, drama, theatre, schools, buildings, government, and intellectual superiority, you have no doubt that your polis, Athens, is clearly the shining star of all the Greek city-states.

Athenian Goals and Behavior at the Olympics: You know your archrival, those horrible Spartans, will do anything to win, even lie and cheat, but you are Athenians - you would never stoop to such boorish behavior. Cooperate with your fellow Athenians to defeat those brutish Spartans, and do your personal best! Say witty things to impress representatives from other city-states. Be courteous to all Greeks, no matter what inferior city they represent. Make up a clever chant for Athens, and sing or say it each time an Athenian wins an event or a makes a witty comment. Shake hands with your fellow Athenians, whenever you greet them. You are Athenians, the clever, creative, courteous representatives of that shining example of all that is fine and noble, the polis of Athens. Good luck in the games!


You are a Corinthian! As a coastal city-state, you have a glorious history as a cultural and trade center. Although your schools are not as fine, perhaps, as those of Athens, you have been educated in the arts and the sciences. As a child, you were taught at home by your mother, or by a male slave. From age 7-14, you attended a day school near your home where you memorized poetry and studied drama, public speaking, reading, writing, math, and the flute. You attended a higher school, if your parents could afford it. You also went to military school for at least two years. Your polis is famous for its bronze statues, pottery, and vase painters. You are creative problem-solvers. To solve the problem of foreign money pouring into your coastal polis, your city-state created it's own coinage, forcing traders to convert their coin at your banks. (For a fee!) To solve your problem of unemployment, you created a huge and successful public works program. Literature, culture, art, and businesses thrive in your city-state. You are proud to be a practical, productive Corinthian!

Corinthian Goals and Behavior at the Olympics: If you can't win, help Argos and Megara to defeat those vain Athenians, and those animals, the Spartans. Do what it takes, but be honest about it. You cheer the winner of each event, whoever that might be, and greet your fellow Corinthians with warmth and good sportsmanship whenever you see them. You do not need the nonsense of secret handshakes or salutes. You roll your eyes each time you see one. You are Corinthians! You are proud of your abilities, your achievements, your honesty, and your obviously superior city-state. Good luck in the games!


You are an Argive! You have been educated in the arts and the sciences, and trained to be productive and capable in times of peace or war. You have much of which to be proud. Although your close neighbor, Corinth, is on the coastline, your polis is located on a plain, where the weather tends to be hot and dry in the summer, and cold and wet in the winter. Your soil is not especially fertile, and you must fight the elements to grow food. In spite of this hardship, your magnificent stone sculptures of athletes, rippling with muscle, are the envy of many a Greek city-state. You are famous for your wonderful musicians and poets. Drama reached new heights in your polis. Plays are performed in open-air theatres, drawing crowds of 20,000 or more Argive citizens! Unfortunately, you have a problem. When Athens and Sparta asked your polis to send supplies and troops to fight the Persians, after the battle of Thermopylae in 480 BCE, you refused. For this decision, you are held in disgrace by the other Greek city-states.

Argive Goals and Behavior at the Olympics: Your goal is to reverse the negative reputation you currently hold in the ancient Greek world. You will have to work hard to convince other city-states that your athletes, soldiers, scholars, orators, architects, poets, dancers, and artists are as fine, if not superior, to the other city-states. You cheer Argive victories, and win as many events as you can. Your goal is to make sure that Athens and Sparta don't win at all. (Your plan is to throw your support to Corinth or Megara toward the end of the competition if it appears you can not win.) You are Argives, hard-working, honest, loyal, clever, creative, courteous representatives of Argos, and of her glorious past. Good luck in the games!


You are a Megarian! Be proud that you are a Greek and come from such a respected city-state as Megara. As a coastal city-state, your history is similar to Corinth's, your neighbor. You believe your schools are as fine as those of Athens, although you have no doubt that any Athenian would disagree. You have been trained in the arts and the sciences. As a child, you were taught at home by your mother, or by a male slave. From age 7-14, you attended a day school near your home where you memorized poetry and studied drama, public speaking, reading, writing, science, poetry, the flute, the lyre, and a great deal of mathematics. Like most Megarians, you love money and have been trained to be an excellent accountant. You attended a higher school, and went to military school. Your polis is famous for its glorious textiles, which are the envy of other Greek city-states. You have, of course, your own coinage, an idea you copied from Corinth. Literature, culture, art, and businesses thrive in your city-state. You believe you offer your citizens even more freedom than Athens. (After the Peloponnesian War, Athens' famous philosopher, Plato, moved to Megara, where he remained for 10 years, so perhaps you are right! You also founded the city of Byzantium, also called Constantinople, now called Istanbul, way back in 630 BCE.) You are proud of your city-state's past and present achievements, and proud to be a Megarian!

Megarian Goals and Behavior at the Olympics: If you can't win, help Argos and Corinth to defeat those boastful Athenians and those militant fanatics, the Spartans. If it comes down to Athens or Sparta, cheer for Sparta, loudly. (They might be militant, but those are good friends to have in time of war! Besides, you are tired of hearing about wonderful Athens.) You are Megarians, proud of your history, your flourishing businesses, your world famous textiles, your freedoms, your schools, your coastal advantage - your rich and vibrant city-state, Megara. Good luck in the games!

For Students and Teachers

Opening Procession Ball in a Basket
Tongue-Twisters Art Recognition
Stickyball (Javelin) Knucklebones (Jacks)
Music (Humming) Award Presentation
Boxing (Items in a Box) Closing Procession

  Opening Procession. Report to class on time! Join your city-state. Collect your flag, your pledge, and any other material you have created to wear. NO talking in the hall! Line-up outside your classroom, by city, alphabetically (a Greek invention!), by teams, with flags. March into class. Be disciplined. Stay in line while marching around the table. Continue marching until all Olympians have entered the classroom and have marched around the table in the center of the room at least once. Lead team (Argives), stop at the podium in the corner. Quietly await the instructions of your Olympic coordinator (your teacher). You are Olympians, the finest of all the Greek athletes! Hold your heads high!

  Olympic Tongue Twisters. One member, selected in advance, from each team. Selected Olympian will say, three times, the tongue-twister they have drawn at random from the Olympic Tongue Twister Shoebox. The Olympic coordinator (the teacher) will time this event. Best time wins! First place receives a bow. Send a runner (but walk!) to stick this bow on your flag!

  1. Miss Smith’s fish-sauce shop seldom sells shellfish.

  2. There’s a sandwich on the sand which was sent by a sane witch.

  3. Ripe white wheat reapers reap ripe white wheat right.

  4. Blake’s black bike’s back brake bracket block broke.

  5. Swan swam over the sea. Swim, swan, swim. Swan swam back again. Well swum swan.

  6. Buckets of black bug’s blood.

  7. Five fat friars frying flat fish.

  8. Betty bought some bitter butter and it made her batter bitter, so Betty bought some better butter to make her batter better.

  9. Ray Rag ran across a rough road. Across a rough road Ray Rag ran. Where is the rough road Ray Rag ran across?

  10. A Tudor who tooted the flute, tried to tutor two tooters to toot. Said the two to the tutor, Is it harder to toot or to tutor two tooters to toot?

  11. Meter maid Mary married manly Matthew Marcus Mayo, a moody male mailman moving mostly metered mail.

  12. To begin to toboggan first, buy a toboggan. But do not buy too big a toboggan. Too big a toboggan is too big to buy to begin to toboggan.

  13. She had shoulder surgery.

  14. She sells seashells on the seashore. The seashells she sells are seashore seashells.

  15. I would if I could, and if I couldn’t, how could I? You couldn’t, unless you could, could you?

  Sticky Ball (Javelin Throwing). All Olympians compete. Have each member of each team throw a paper javelin as far as they can. All Olympians compete in this activity, and receive a total team score. Best team score wins! First place receives a bow. Send a runner (but walk!) to stick this bow on your flag! (You may choose to substitute the javelin toss with any toss game. We used purchased games from the dollar store, the ones with two balls that stick to a piece of felt. Any game works, as long as it fits the Olympic goal of strength and aim!)

  Music Appreciation (Humming). One or more Olympians compete per team, as a unit. You may either hum the tune you have selected as a team, or select one or more members of your team to represent you in this activity at the Olympics. Team members, selected in advance, will hum a tune for the Olympics coordinator (the teacher). Try to select a tune your Olympic coordinator might know. Best time wins. First place receives a bow. Send a runner (but walk!) to stick this bow on your flag!

  Boxing (Items in a Box). One member, selected in advance, from each team. Each selected representative will proceed to the "Boxing" Arena, where you will be shown one box full of items for 20 seconds. You will have one minute to write down everything you can remember. Best score wins. First place receives a bow. Send a runner (but walk!) to stick this bow on your flag! (This event may be changed to include all Olympians, by arranging 5 "Boxing" areas, with 5 boxes of items. Totals may be added by volunteers as competitors participate in the next event.)

  Ball in a Basket. All Olympians compete. Your goal is to toss balls into a basket. Best count wins. Team score. First place receives a bow. Send a runner (but walk!) to stick this bow on your flag!

  Art Recognition. One member, selected in advance, from each team. For this one, you'll need to use the bulletin board or an overhead projector. A member from each team will select at random (from the Olympics Art Appreciation Shoebox) an item to draw. Your teammates must guess what it is. Best time wins. First place receives a bow. Send a runner (but walk!) to stick this bow on your flag!

  Knucklebones (Jacks) All Olympians compete. One member of each team will report to a Jack Arena. Let the games begin! Each member will do one round of onesies, the next person will do twosies, the next threesies, etc. If you miss, you're out. Best team score. For example, if representatives of Athens each win in their Jack Arena, Athens would receive 2 points, one for each win. Best total team score wins this event. First place receives a bow. Send a runner (but walk!) to stick this bow on your flag!

  Award Presentation. Honor First, Second, and Third place winners. Winners selected by totaling number of events won at the Olympics. Take your place to be honored! All Olympians cheer winners in the Greek way - HAIL HAIL! The Olympics coordinator will award bows, for you to add proudly to your city-state flag.

  Closing Procession. All city-states, get your flags. NO talking in the hall! Line up inside the classroom, by city, alphabetically (a Greek invention!), by teams, with flags. March proudly around the table at least twice. Exit the Olympic Arena. When all Olympians have exited the Arena, the games are officially over. Return to class. Post all flags on the wall (leaving room for the flags of the next class). Clean up!

Teacher's Section
Day by Day Instructions

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.


  • Prepare Handouts, using the information provided in this lesson plan

    • Olympic Events

    • Background on 5 Greek City-States - Athens, Sparta, Corinth, Argos, Megara

  • 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 store)

    • 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 necessary)

Simulation Operation
(Lesson Plan)


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.

Note to teachers: You may wish to use the city-state descriptions at the bottom of this page, or write some of your own, or have your students research the character of city-state they have been assigned.

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 as Greeks.

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. Assign each group one city-state (Sparta, Athens, Corinth, Argos, Corinth)

Direct students 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 as needed.


Greet your class at the door.

  • Hail Argives!

  • Hail Athenians!

  • Hail Corinthians!

  • Hail Megarians!

  • Hail Spartans!

Prepare for the Olympics!

Continue working in groups. Finish flags, pledge, and any other material.

HANDOUT: Give each group a handout on the Olympic Events as we have created them above (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 representatives for secret deals.


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 musicians!

  • 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 candy.

DISMISSAL: As your students exit for their next class, stand at the door:

Hail Greek athletes from Argos, Athens, Corinth, Megara, and Sparta! All Greece thanks and honors you!



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