Play on!

Epidauros (III)Creative Commons License

Institute for the Study of the Ancient World via Compfight

Have you ever seen or acted in a play? When I was in second grade I had the role of the narrator in a classroom production, the title of which escapes me now.  Ten years later, as a senior in high school, my class took to the stage in the musical My Fair Lady.  I played a maid with one line.  Singing was not my forte.  After I graduated college I spent a summer studying at Cambridge University in England; while there I had a number of opportunities to see plays in both London and in Stratford-upon-Avon.  I remember seeing The TempestCats, Phantom of the Opera, and The Starlight Express.  

Since then, I have had many opportunities to watch amateur and professional plays at our own Venice Theater.  I love watching A Christmas Carol every December, and one of my favorite shows ever was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat performed by Epiphany middle schoolers.  I saw that show three times in three days and gave it a standing ovation every time.

Epidauros (VI)InCreative Commons Licensestitute for the Study of the Ancient World via Compfight

The Ancient Greeks were no different than we are with our modern day fascination with acting, Broadway, Hollywood, and awards shows.  They held a three day drama festival in Athens each year dedicated to Dionysus, the god of the theater and of wine.  During those three days, three playwrights presented three plays, and the playwright with the best play received a prize.

Take a trip to Ancient Greece and the City Dionysia via the BBC  and The British Museum.  Explore the orchestra and the teatron, watch the actors in their masks, climb the Parthenon, and vote for the play you like best.  Perhaps Sophocles will win again!

After visiting the sites for awhile, leave a note for future explorers as a comment below.  Have fun!

Epidaurus Theater Randy Durrum via Compfight




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A QR Field Trip to Ancient Greece

Today I told my kids that we were taking a virtual field trip, also known as a webquest, to Ancient Greece via our new iPads.   Similar to an actual field trip, the goal is not to rush off the bus, see one thing, run to be the first person back to the bus, and then stand around waiting, doing nothing, until everyone else returns to the bus. The goal is  to learn as much as possible in the time allotted.

Parthenon, Athens

The Parthenon in Athens

Photo Credit: Pedro Szekely via Compfight

Imagine that you are on a field trip to the Acropolis.  Everyone must stay at the Acropolis, no side trips to McDonald’s, but everyone is free to explore the parts of the Acropolis that he or she finds most interesting.  Some kids might go to the Parthenon, others to the Erechtheion, to the Propylaia, or to the temple of Athena Nike.   That’s how our virtual trip worked as well.  The kids scanned a QR code which brought them to a website related to Ancient Greece.  Once on the site, each student was free to explore according to his/her own tastes and interests.

Here is one site we visited.  Click on the picture to explore with us!

Explore Ancient Greece via the BBC

Explore Ancient Greece via the BBC

On a real field trip, after returning to the bus, you might talk with people around you about what you saw in your section of the park.  “The Parthenon is huge!  It looks like the one in the Percy Jackson movie!” or “My Nikes stood at the Temple of Nike!”  We had similar discussions on our virtual field trip.  Once we had explored the site individually, we shared our information in small groups, and then chose the most interesting tidbit to relate to the entire class.

In order to find the web sites most efficiently, some of us whose iPads had a free scanner app on them scanned the QR code to quickly connect to the site.  Those without a scanning app could also find the site by typing the URL address.

Facts about Ancient Greece

Facts about Ancient Greece


What was the most interesting piece of information you learned while visiting Ancient Greece?


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Scavenger Hunt Success

Did you know that vending machines were invented by the Ancient Greeks?  The Greek mathematician Hero of Alexandria developed a machine that dispensed holy water when a coin was inserted.   It is said that Plato invented the alarm clock and that Aeschylus is responsible for our system of trial by juryWhat do Ajax, Midas, Nike, Oracle, and Pandora have in common?   They are all products or companies named for characters in Greek mythology.  These are just a few of the interesting discoveries we made as we hunted in our modern lives for evidence of the legacy of Ancient Greece. 

Can you add any items to our list of legacies of Ancient Greece?

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Scavenger Hunt: Ancient Greece in the Modern World

Hey Kids!

Today I was riding my bike on Casey Key, and I saw this statue in front of someone’s home:phone photos 005

A little further in, I noticed this artwork,

phone photos 007

Right away I thought of the documentary we saw in class, Who Were the Greeks?, which asks its title question because the legacy of the Greeks, in democracy, philosophy, art, architecture, literature, science, and sport, continues in our modern day culture all over the world.  This morning was a perfect example.  Two thousand years and six thousand miles from Ancient Greece, the influence of their artwork and architecture stands amid palm trees on a little key in the Gulf of Mexico.

I pulled out my cell phone, snapped a photo, and rode on, until the gate of the house next door caught my eye.

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Do you remember the story of Heracles?  How is this gate a tribute to this Greek hero?

I am on to something, I thought.  I took another photo, rode home, uploaded my pictures to the computer and voila!  A scavenger hunt is born.

I am proposing a challenge.  Look around you.  What evidence of the legacies of Ancient Greece can you find in your daily life and travels?   Where do you see the philosophy, art, architecture, literature, science, and sport of the Greeks in your life in modern day America (or Canada, or England, or Australia…wherever you live).  Make it your quest this week to find as many examples of Ancient Greek life in our lives today.  Leave a comment, and let us know what you unearth.

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Perseus vs. Percy Jackson

Hey, Kids!

Welcome back to school!

This week we start reading mythology from around the world.  Our first visit will be to Ancient Greece where we will meet Perseus, a Greek hero and model for Percy Jackson.  Have you seen the new Percy Jackson movie?  How much do you know about the Greek hero Perseus and the gods of Olympus from reading Percy Jackson or seeing the movies?  Take this quiz on the National Geographic Kids website to find out.

Also, take a look at our sidebar and find the category “Myths and Legends”.  Click on it and try the quiz “Which Hero Are You?”


Photo Credit: lapidim via Compfight cc
The Ideal of Beauty

What do you already know about Greece? Leave a comment with three facts you know about this country. Tomorrow we’ll have a list of what we know and what we think we know. Then we can figure out what we want to know about the home of heroes Perseus, Hercules, Theseus, Jason, and Odysseus and work to answer our questions.

The game is afoot!


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We travel with Dr. Indiana Jones

This week our young archeologists journeyed half-way across the globe in search of artifacts for inclusion in a special exhibit at our museum.  Accompanying the world famous Dr. Indiana Jones, our students excavated the sites of ancient Greek myths and medieval Brittish legends.   After spending a week researching and digging, they returned to the States with their artifacts in hand.  The students presented these National Treasures  to our museum curator and board of directors, hoping that they might be of such significance as to be included in our most recent exhibit scheduled for tomorrow Night at the Museum.  See for yourself, and then let us know…

What is your favorite museum movie?


Oral Reports about Ancient Civilizations on PhotoPeach

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Today we reviewed for our first unit test by playing Jeopardy!  Each member of the winning team gets three bonus points added onto his or her test; the second place team receives two points, and the third place team, one point.  Our categories were: Myths, Legends, Fables, Hercules, Olympians, History and Geography, Art, Vocabulary, and Literary Terms.

Can you answer any of our Jeopardy! questions?

1. In what countries are the Pillars of Hercules?

2. What slave is credited with telling fables to buy his freedom?

3. What instrument did Orpheus play?

4. Who is Sir Galahad’s father?

5. What is a Sisyphian task?

6. What figure of speech is used in this sentence: “The whole world sorrowed with him.”?

7. Where was Sir Thomas Mallory when he wrote Le Morte D’Arthur?

8. Define ebullient.

9. On what Greek island in the Mediterranean were Daedalus and Icarus imprisoned?

10. What Greek art form depicted the labors of Hercules?


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