Students read ancient greek myths with special attention to the consequences of characters' refusal to obey their parents!
- Grades: 6–8
- Unit Plan:
In this lesson, students will discover what the ancient Greeks thought about children disobeying their parents based on the consequences described in three different myths. Students will work in groups to adapt these mythological stories into a skit format and then present their adaptation to the class.
- Compare and contrast story elements from 3 different myths using a graphic organizer.
- Face an audience with proper eye contact and appropriate voice level to participate in creative dramatics.
- Paper and pencil
- Multiple copies of the following Greek myths: "Daedalus and Icarus," "Bellerophon and Pegasus," and "Helios and Phaethon." These myths can be found in some of the books in my booklist or in your library.
- Overlapping Concepts Graphic Organizer (PDF).
Set Up and Prepare
- Prior to this lesson, you may want to divide the class into three groups (or whatever configuration works for your classroom). Groups will be reading stories and acting out the myths.
- Each group will be reading one of the myths. Gather enough copies of each myth for each student to read.
- Copy the Overlapping Concepts printable (PDF) for each student.
- Write the journal topic on the board to prepare the students for the introductory set.
Step 1: Introductory Set: Begin this lesson with a discussion about the concepts of "honoring thy mother and father" and "respecting one's elders." Ask students how they respect and honor their parents/guardians and elders. Ask them about a time when they did not and what were the consequences. Discuss the negative behaviors they acted out at that time; pride, arrogance, overconfidence, etc. Write the following journal topic or a variation thereof on the board and allow students to respond in their journals: "Write about a time when you were too prideful to respect your parents or elders or someone else in your life. What happened? Is pride a positive or negative characteristic? When is it positive and when is it negative? Give an example to support your position."
Step 2: Upon completion, randomly call on students to share their experiences and ideas on "pride." Explain that they will read three more myths today, all focusing on the effects of having too much pride and how that impacts the relationship between parents and children.
Step 3: Divide the students into three groups. Explain that each group will:
- Be given a different myth from the following options: "Daedalus and Icarus," "Bellerophon and Pegasus," and "Helios and Phaethon"
- Read their group's myth and organize a skit portraying their story
- Create a "theme song" for each of their myths
- Be allowed 10 minutes to perform their skit and theme song
- Perform their skit and parody theme song for the other students
Step 4: Allow time for the groups to complete their tasks.
Step 1: Share with the students that they will be performing their skits and theme songs for the class. While listening to each skit, they will also be listening carefully for specific information about each myth. Distribute the Overlapping Concepts handout and explain that the diagram is helpful when we compare ideas and objects. Tell them they will be comparing each myth as they listen to each skit and song. Have the students label each circle with the name of each of the three myths. Explain the significance of each section of the diagram, how two myths can have similarities, how all three myths can have similarities, and how each myth can have exclusive elements not shared by the others.
Step 2: Allow each group to perform. Students should fill in the handout during each presentation.
Step 3: After each group has performed their skit and song, review the worksheet with the students, discussing each myth's similarities and differences. Walk around the room to observe the students' responses on their worksheet, assisting when necessary.
Step 4: Close the lesson by discussing how these three myths revealed the nature of relationships between parents and children. Generate a brief discussion about the similarities between these ancient myths to their real life relationships with their parents.
Supporting All Learners
The needs of all students should be met at some point in this lesson as it is driven by the theory of multiple intelligences. For example, creatively inclined students should experience success during the dramatic reenactment of the myths, while students who enjoy writing and analyzing literature will excel with the journal writing and parody writing activities.
- Students may always complete a web quest of other Greek myths that deal with children of the gods.
- Students may research Leonardo da Vinci's experiments with human flight, to possibly compare them to Daedalus's wings.
- Students may research the signs of the zodiac, since several are mentioned in the story about Phaethon and Helios.
- Students often ask about the different between Helios and Apollo as both are proclaimed as being "the" sun god. Have the students research the difference between the two deities.
Invite students to write a double-entry journal, one written with a line down the middle of the page. On one side, the students tell a story about a time they learned a lesson from a parent. On the other side, have the students ask the parents to write about a time when the parent was younger that he or she learned a lesson from the grandparent or other adult in the parent's life.
1. Complete the journal entry.
2. Complete the Overlapping Concepts handout (PDF).
3. Perform the skits and the parodies in a group.
You should be able to tell by the assessments whether or not the students understood the deeper meanings of the lesson. In some cases, you may need to lead a blunt and direct conversation about hubris, or having too much pride, and give more examples for your students to analyze.
You may decide to grade any of the written work: the journal entry, the worksheet, or the lyrics of the parody.