My Eldest picked this International Theme Day as he has been reading the “Percy Jackson” series and has been really interested in the Greek god and goddesses. Even if you don’t want to focus on Greek Mythology this Theme Day is a great way to learn about a different country. You could use this Theme Day as an introduction to the next Olympics as well since Greece is the home of the first Olympics. Whatever your focus, any time is a good time to learn about a different country, so enjoy!
Print out the Family Theme Day Planner and decide which activities you’d like to do and in what order.
Greek is officially known as the Hellenic Republic and includes approximately 1,400 islands! Take out a globe or atlas before you have this Theme Day or go online to show your child where Greece is and compare it to where you live. For more information about Greece check here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greece
Hymn to Liberty is the National Anthem of Greece and is the longest National Anthem in the world by length of text! For information on the Greek National Anthem check here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hymn_to_Liberty. To hear the Greek National Anthem being performed as well as view the English translation of the lyrics check here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VkPRU6C-JQ
Perhaps one of the most famous tunes related to Greece is the Theme from Zorba the Greek. To hear it and see some photos of Greece click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UgndyMfe-8
You can find many free coloring pages online by using your favourite search engine and typing in “Greek Coloring Pages” or print out my Symbols of Greece Coloring Page.
JOURNALING QUESTION PROMPT:
Write out one or more of the following questions in your Family Theme Day Scrapbook or on a piece of paper to glue in your scrapbook: What do you know about Greece (or Greek Mythology)? What would you like to learn about Greece?
NOTE: I like to do the journal prompt last for International Theme Days to see what my children have learned: Would you like to visit Greece? Why or why not? If you travelled to Greece what would you like to visit or do? What are three interesting facts you learned about Greece?
Choose the level of your child:
¨ Toddler – discuss the answer(s) out loud first and have your child draw a picture of the answer
¨ Preschooler/Kindergartener – discuss the answer(s) out loud first and write the answer down for him/her leaving one word for him/her to write out himself/herself with your help. You could also encourage him/her to draw a picture as well.
¨ Early Grade School – have your child either write out the answer himself/herself (encourage phonetic spelling) without your help, or offer to help with spelling each word out loud one word at a time.
¨ Grade School – have your child write a sentence or two on his/her own and then read over and discuss the response. (You decide whether to correct the spelling or not)
¨ Older Child – have your child write a longer response (paragraph).
¨ As A Challenge – instead of a question ask your older child to write a story or poem about Greece or Greek Mythological characters.
Raid your child’s bookshelves to find any books about Greek Mythology or stories that take place in Greece.
Go to the library with your child to find some books about Greece or Greek Mythology.
Go to the library on your own to find books about Greece from both fiction and nonfiction to have already on hand for your theme day. Many libraries allow you to go online and search for titles based on subject. Reserve them if you can to save time.
Try to find some of these nonfiction/learning titles about the country of Greece:
· Greece, by Madeline Donaldson, Lerner Publications Company, 2009 – This is a nice thorough look at Greece starting with a map of the region and looking at different parts of Greece and then expanding with small details about its culture.
· Greece the Culture, by Sierra Adare, Crabtree Publishing Company, 2008 – part of the Bobby Kalman Book series this one offers thorough information and many photographs highlighting the different cultural aspects of Greece, touching on mythology, arts, music, clothing and food etc.. Other books in this series include “Greece the People” and “Greece the Land.”
· Greek Warrior, by Deborah Murrell, QEB Publishing, 2009 – This is a good one for kids who would be more interested in learning about hoplites, Greek soldiers from ancient times.
· The History and Activities of Ancient Greece, by Greg Owens, Heinemann Library, 2007 – A “Hands-On Ancient History” book this one offers a good summary of Greek history and includes a recipe and a few craft ideas at the end.
· If I were a Kids in Ancient Greece, by Cricket Books, 2006 – This is an interesting text as it looks at house rules, toys, school and exercise among other things about ancient Greek life from a kid’s perspective.
· I Wonder Why Greeks Built Temples and other questions about ancient Greece, by Fiona Macdonald, Kingfisher, 2012 – This is an easy one to read and offers a lot of good information about ancient Greece.
· Look Around a Greek Temple, by Richard Dargie, Arcturus Publishing, 2008 – Easy to read text with quite good detail and lots of photographs and illustrations to help kids learn about Greek temples.
· Once Upon a Starry Night: Heroes and Gods of the Constellations, by Jacqueline Mitton and Christina Balit, Frances Lincoln Ltd, 2003 – I love the whimsical illustrations in this book of the stories behind some of the constellations.
· Science in Ancient Greece, by Kathlyn Gay, Franklin Watts, 1998 – Young scholars will find this book interesting; it is thorough but not too long.
· Top 10 Worst Things About Ancient Greece You Wouldn’t Want to Know!, written by Victoria England and illustrated by David Antram (Created by David Salariya), Gareth Stevens Publishing, 2012 – An interesting look at ancient Greek life.
· What did the Ancient Greeks Do For Me?, by Patrick, Heinemann Library, 2011 – a quick look at ancient Greek art, theatre, philosophy, science and democracy etc.
Here are some picture books:
· I Have an Olive Tree, by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Karen Barbour, Joanna Cotler Books, 1999 - A beautiful story of family and heritage about a girl who is given an olive tree on her birthday by her old grandfather. When he dies she goes to Greece with her mother to hang her grandfather’s beads on the tree. I love the colourful illustrations in this meaningful tale.
· Mr. Semolina-Semolinus: A Greek Folketale, retold by Anthony L. Manna and Christodoula Mitakidou, and illustrated by Giselle Potter, Atheneum books for Young Readers, 1997 – A Princess makes a man out of almonds known for his kindness but an evil queen steals him away.
· What’s Your Angle, Pythagoras?, by Julie Ellis an illustrated by Phyllis Hornung, Charlesbridge, 2004 – This is a picture book about math! Young Pythagoras discovers a number pattern to solve problems involving right triangles. For another Math Adventure by the same author and illustrator read Pythagoras and the Ratios.
Picture Books about Greek Mythology:
NOTE: A little warning about Greek Mythology…the gods and goddesses were very promiscuous so you may have second thoughts about introducing all of these stories to your children. For some “ safer” choices pick from this list of picture books.
· The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus, written and illustrated by Aliki, HarperCollins Publishers, 1994 – This is a good basic review of the twelve Olympians.
· Greece! Rome! Monsters!, by John Harris and illustrations by Calef Brown, Getty publications, 2002 – This book looks at 19 mythological creatures and has some fun and bright illustrations.
· The McElderry Book of Greek Myths, Retold by Eric A. Kimmel and illustrated by Pep Montserrat, Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2008 - There are twelve myths retold in this book. Also, I love the illustrations in this.
· Mythological Monsters of Ancient Greece, by Sara Fanelli, Candlewick Press, 2002 - My kids love the whimsical collage illustrations in this book of monsters.
· Young Zeus, by G. Brian Karas, Scholastic Press, 2010 – This is a bit of a reinvention of the story of Zeus overthrowing Cronus by making him a little boy.
· Z is for Zeus: a Greek Mythology Alphabet, written by Helen L. Wilbur and illustrated by Victor Juhasz, Sleeping Bear Press, 2008 – Each letter of the alphabet has a fun illustration, little poem and then some additional historical facts on the side of the page.
Here are some books about Greek Mythology for older kids:
· A Gift From Zeus: Sixteen Favorite Myths, written by Jeanne Steig and pictures by William Steig, Joanna Cotler Books, 2001 – My eldest really liked this book of stories. There are minimal illustrations in this book making it better suited for older readers.
· Gifts from the Gods: Ancient Words and Wisdom from Greek and Roman Mythology, written by Lise Lunge-Larsen and illustrated by Gareth Hinds, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2011 – This has the story of Achilles’’ Heel, Arachnid, Echo and Narcissus, among others.
· The Mighty 12: superheroes of Greek Myth, by Charles R. Smith JR. and illustrated by P. Craig Russell, Little, Brown and Company, 2008 – This book of poems summarizes the Olympians and uses comic book style illustrations.
· Mythological Creatures: A Classical Bestiary, by Lynn Curlee, Antheneum Books for Young Readers, 2008 – Using one illustration per story this book goes into more detail about the various monsters of Greek Mythology.
· Oh My Gods: A Look-It-U Guide to the Gods of Mythology, by Megan E. Bryant, Scholastic 2010 – There are four in this Mythlopedia Series. These are interesting fact-filled books that older kids will love to pour over. The other titles are “All in the Family,” “What a Beast,” and “She’s All That!”
There are some chapter books based on Greek mythological characters that might get your older kids reading more. Try one of these series:
· Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief (book one), by Rick Riordan – There are also graphic novels of these books adapted by Robert Venditti with art by Attila Futaki and color by José Villarrubia.
· The Goddess Girls , written by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams
GREEK ARCHITECTURE COLLAGE:
Materials: Coloured paper, glue stick, pencil, child safe scissors, (Optional: some pictures of ancient Greek columns or buildings form Greece (we loved the white buildings with blue roofs in Santorini) .
Step 1: Have your child look at books about Greece or pictures online and then decide what type of architecture he/she wants to re-create.
Step 2: Help your child break the architecture down into basic shapes. Smaller children may require you to draw the basic shapes but older kids may want to do it themselves. For an ancient Greek picture cut out long rectangles for basic columns and a triangle for a roof.
Step 3: Have your child glue the shapes to a piece of coloured paper to create a building.
Step 4: Display or glue into your Family Theme Day scrapbook.
PAPER PLATE MOSAIC:
NOTE: mosaics are made of pebbles of different colours to create patterns and pictures on floors or walls. Check here for some examples: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosaic
Materials: paper plate, small cut out squares of coloured paper (you can make these ahead of time for your kids or have them cut them out using child safe scissors), glue stick, face cloth for sticky fingers.
Step 1: Have your child create his/her own pattern by gluing the little squares of paper to the paper plate.
Step 2: Display.
GREEK MYTHOLOGY POTTERY:
NOTE: For some information on Pottery of Ancient Greece and some examples check here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_pottery
Materials: Clay pot from a craft store, black paint, (Optional: pictures of ancient Greek pottery) , paint brushes, black sharpie markers for details (Optional), plastic or newspapers to cover work space, art smock or old clothes for painting, wax paper or paper plate for a pallet.
Step 1: Have your kids look at some examples of Ancient Greek Pottery and/or read some Greek Myths together to pick a subject.
Step 2: Have your children decorate their pot using black paints. They can either create their own designs or copy Greek symbols or create a story about a Greek Myth. (I love the tiny Zeus with a lightning bolt in his hand that my Youngest painted on his).
Step 3: Display ! You could even fill with potting soil and plants some seeds or seedlings in them.
PAPER DOLL GREEK DANCERS:
Materials: white paper (the longer the better), pencil, child safe scissors, markers .
Step 1: Cut your white paper into a long wide strip/
Step 2: Fold the paper over a number of times to layer the paper (if the paper were to be opened and left bent it would be zig zagged) but leaving a decent amount of space to draw an outline of person on the top layer.
Step 3: Help younger kids by drawing the outline of a person on the top layer. Make sure the arm extends to the end and the legs too. A basic “X” form works for the body’s outline.
Step 4: Cut around the outline of the body leaving the arms and toes attached to each other (this might be better suited for parents of younger kids).
Step 5: Have your kids use markers or crayons to decorate the dancers to look like a line of dancing Greeks! We used a photo found in a library book to design ours.
Step 6: Display, attach together to create a banner, or glue in your Family Theme Day Scrapbook.
PAPER ROLL GREEK FIGURE:
NOTE: Ancient Greeks wore chitons (not togas…that’s Roman) which is a long tube of fabric that slips over the head. I tried to imitate that look for this craft. A woman’s chiton was called a peplos. To learn more about the chiton check here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiton_%28costume%29 and for the peplos check here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peplos
Materials: empty toilet paper roll, white paper, green paper, black parker, glue stick, damp cloth for sticky fingers, child safe scissors.
Step 1: Cut out a strip of white paper to fit around the toilet paper roll and glue it on leaving enough room for a head.
Step 2: Cut out a thin strip of green paper to be the laurel and glue to the top of the roll.
Step 3: Cut out some tiny leaves and glue those to the laurel.
Step 4: Draw details using a black marker, like the face or folds of the chiton cloth.
GREEK MYTHOLOGY CONSTELLATIONS:
NOTE: There are many stories in Greek Mythology where the hero is honored by having his/her image displayed in the sky as a constellation. For more information about constellations check here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constellation
Materials: Star Stickers, books about Greek myths, pencil, black paper, white crayons or white paint.
Step 1: Have your child decide which hero or Greek character he/she wants to create a constellation for. Your child can either invent his/her own constellation or copy one for a real Greek Myth (many books about Stars and Constellations will have these). My Youngest wanted to make a constellation for Batman!
Step 2: Have your child place star stickers to create an outline for the drawing (or copying a real constellation). You may need to draw a basic outline for younger children and have your child place stickers along that light pencil drawing.
Step 3: Lastly, have your child connect the dots/stars and draw the hero using white crayon. We used white paint because I couldn't’ find black paper for this craft so glued black tissue paper to a piece of construction paper and crayon would have ripped the tissue paper.
NOTE: Many Greek festivals in ancient times included open air theater performances. All the actors were male and the characters were easy to recognize due to masks . For more information about the Theatre of Ancient Greece and to see some examples of Greek masks used for theatre check here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theatre_of_ancient_Greece#Masks_and_ritual
Materials: Paper plate, pencil, markers or crayons. Child safe scissors.
Step 1: Have your child draw a face on the paper plate with a large mouth (either happy or sad). Then let your child outline it in black marker or crayon.
Step 2: Help your child cut out the mouth and eyes.
OLIVE WREATH CROWN/LAUREL:
You could also make an olive wreath crown out of green paper by following the directions I offer on our Olympic Theme Day!
For more ideas check out this “Hands-On History” book: Ancient Greeks: Dress, Eat, Write, and Play Just Like the Greeks, by Joe Fullman, QEB Publishing, 2009.
If you want some food inspiration for your Greece Theme Day here are some children’s books that offer information and a few recipes:
Foods of Greece, by Barbara Sheen Kidhaven press, 2006
Cooking in World Cultures: Food and Cooking in ancient Greece, by Clive Gifford and illustrations by Paul Cherrill, PowerKids Press, 2010
Blueberry and Greek Yogurt Greek Flag:
If you don’t have adventuresome kids and think they won’t want to try authentic Greek food you could always make this flag snack…it does use Greek yogurt after all.
Ingredients: Greek Yogurt, blueberries
Step 1: Spread some thick Greek yogurt on a plate in a rectangle.
Step 2: Arrange blueberries on top to mimic the Greek flag!
Olives: For a more traditional Greek snack serve up some olives. My Eldest did NOT want to eat these but my youngest LOVES them!
Feta Cheese: Marinate some feta cheese in olive oil and herbs and then give your kids some toothpicks to snack on this cheesy Greek fare. I served ours up with some pita. I looked here for inspiration: http://www.abeautifulmess.com/2013/04/marinated-olives-and-feta.html
Make some Avgolemono Soup for lunch (basically a chicken soup with lemon and egg). For a recipe try here: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/avgolemono_soup/
I served up some spanakopita for lunch that I bought from the frozen appetizer section of my grocery store– these spinach stuffed phyllo are yummy to me but my veggie hating boys needed a bit of convincing.
Dolmas are stuffed grape leaves. If you can find those at a store serve some of them for lunch or if you want to try to make some check online for a recipe. I bought mine.
Serve up some lamb or seafood for a taste of Greece.
For something more traditional make souvlaki – this is a popular Greek fast food and is basically grilled meat (usually lamb, but you can make it with pork, beef or chicken). You can find many different recipes for this online. We had lamb for dinner for our Theme Day.
For a Greek side make a Horiatiki or a Village Salad (basically known as a Greek Salad in restaurants) – chop up tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper and add feta and olives with a quick olive oil and lemon dressing (and oregano). You can find many recipes on line and in cookbooks. You can marinate the meat in a ladolemono sauce, which is basically olive oil, lemons and other herbs mixed in.
I served our souvlaki and salad with a side of pita and tsatziki, a yogurt dipping sauce. Here is a recipe for the sauce: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/1321fb/
Amigthalo Pralines are easy to make. I found a recipe in one of the books we took out from the library but this webpage offers one as well: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/1321fb/ . This dessert is basically candied almonds so they cannot be enjoyed in “nut free” houses.
Another simple desert is using yummy thick Greek yogurt and drizzling honey on top and then adding walnuts. For a photo of our Greek desserts check out my More Goodies Album on our Facebook Page.
Baklava is another delicious Greek dessert made with phyllo dough. I’ve never been brave enough to work with phyllo dough but I have eaten baklava before and it is delicious. If you can find some already made
Print out a copy of my Greece Flag Worksheet and have your child colour it.
GEOGRAPHY OF GREECE:
Print out a copy of my Basic Geography of Greece Worksheet and have your child colour it. Then together as a family search an atlas or online for the capital city of Greece. Have your child write the answer on the worksheet. We also wrote the names of the seas. Please excuse any anomalies in the shape of the country or any missing islands or inaccuracies as the worksheet was drawn by me and hence is not perfect.
Print out my Simple Greek Words Printable and try to say some everyday phrases in Greek. I apologise for any errors. Here is where I found the words I used: http://www.hillmanwonders.com/greece/greek_phrases.htm and http://gogreece.about.com/od/greeklanguage/a/learn_to_count_in_greek.htm
Print out a copy of my Greek Alphabet Printable and as a family discuss them to see if you can guess which sounds or letters in the English language they may represent. Then check here for the Greek Alphabet English Equivalent Key. There are sure to be errors but these are the sites I used for reference: http://www.ibiblio.org/koine/greek/lessons/alphabet.html and http://www.ilearngreek.com/lessons/alphabet.L1.asp and http://greekfood.about.com/od/glossary/a/alphabet.htm
GREEK ALPHABET ACTIVITY IDEA:
Have your child try to create his/her name using the ancient Greek alphabet. Have him/her draw the name on a piece of paper and then go over it with permanent marker. Make the paper look old by heating the oven at 250F and then dipping the paper in some coffee. Spread the wet and stained paper on a cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes until it dries.
Print out a copy of my Greek Mythology: The Olympians Chart and together as a family see if you can fill in the chart while your read about the various gods and goddesses. Can you find their Roman names, their function (what they were the god or goddess of) and a symbol for each one?
If your children want to learn more about Greek Mythology print out a copy of my Greek Mythology: The Heroes Chart and as you read about the various Greek heroes fill it out.
To see picture of ten of the most famous Greek temples check here: http://www.touropia.com/famous-greek-temples/
For more about Greece check out this tourism site: http://www.visitgreece.gr/
For a Greek Myth quiz try here: http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/games/puzzlesquizzes/quizyournoodle-greek-myths/
For more on Greek Mythological Creatures check here: http://www.theoi.com/greek-mythology/bestiary.html
For the Ancient Greeks , hoop rolling was a popular form of recreation. If you have a hula hoop and a wooden spoon or stick your child can try it. Simple keep the hoop rolling by using the stick. Fro more information on this ancient activity check here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoop_rolling
Search through your child’s DVD/ video collection (or visit your local library before hand) to see if you can find any shows about Greece or Greek Mythology.
For young children try these titles:
· The Backyardigans: Mighty Match Up
For a cartoon movie based on an ancient here try this:
· Disney’s Hercules
Older kids may enjoy:
· The Percy Jackson movies—for a modern twist on the mythology.
Try to find this non-fiction learning title at your local library:
· Countries Around the World: Greece, Schlessinger Media – this is a little 13 minute show
Many museums have sections that feature ancient Greek artifacts. If you are lucky enough to live near a museum that does, go there for an afternoon and explore the ancient world together.
The Acropolis of Athens
Photo: G Klewchuk
Visit a museum to see ancient Greek Artifacts
Photo: L Klewchuk