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Sixth Graders Learn about Greek

Submitted by sarah.ledingham on Tue, 04/16/2019 - 09:04
Student: Max

Mrs. James's sixth-grade class did a social studies unit on ancient Greece. These last two weeks we were split into six different “city-states”.  The city-states were Athens, Sparta, Argos, Thebes, Corinth, and Delphi. All of the city-states would be given contests and tasks to compete for points. The table with the most points, in the end, would win.

Our first task was to create a banner to hang over our “city-state” (desks). We had to have important figures from our city-state, patron god or goddess, what our city was known for, and a motto that we thought went along with our state. “Interesting fact, Athens though having the same patron goddess as Sparta was still repeatedly attacked by Sparta.”  The standings for the banner contest were Athens in first Sparta in second Thebes in third.

Every city needs a temple. Seriously, if you didn't have at least one for every god they would smite you, kill all your plants, cause diseases and death. Meanwhile, the smart guys over in that city over there are happy making money and all that amazing stuff, so you really needed a temple back then to show off. And on the plus side, please the gods. Greek temples were the masterpiece of the city. We got to use paper clips, paper, a yard of tape and rubber bands. By the end, we had to build these amazing temples. Everyone had at least a half decent temple, well, except for Sparta. Let’s just say the gods were angry at the Spartans that day. The standing of the temple building contest was Athens in first place with a great temple complete with art on the roof, amazing stability “for earthquakes,” and even two walls. In second place: Thebes. And in the third: Corinth with a never before seen temple with all walls no pillars.

You probably don't think of greeks as dancers but they were actually quite amazing at it, really.

The dance we learned was called the Zorba. It was definitely not extremely hard to memorize but when you're pretty much running around the room almost kneeing the person next to you every time you step, yah, it can get pretty difficult. The dance is: put your left foot behind your right, cross your right knee over the left, cross your left knee across your right, repeat. It was actually quite fun! First, we had each table do the dance in front of the room, then picked the best three tables. We did the Zorba around the room - the first one to make a mistake was the third, second was second, and last first. Thebes took first, Athens took second and Corinth took third.     

Next, catapults! Every state needed a catapult about as much as a teenager needs a phone; you wouldn't look cool without one. They could destroy walls, smash people, take over a city, I mean who wouldn't want one? So, we made catapults. Huge amazing catapults that could launch little balls of playdough! We got unlimited popsicle sticks, unlimited rubber bands and unlimited tape. The catapults would take place in three different competitions one was accuracy, another was distance and the last was destroying. For the destroying part, each table set up a cup tower with the same amount of cups. For points every cup knocked down was a point taken away from the team with the cup tower. The team shooting got three shots. In first, for the accuracy, was Athens. In second, was nobody. In third was nobody.  For distance, Sparta took first, Athens took second, and Corinth took third. In the attacking contest, Sparta lost a lot of points and went way back down to third place in the overall competition.

For our last competition, we did readers theater. Readers theater is where you have a story that is read by different people. It's like a play, just not with as much moving around and more talking. Every city-state was assigned a story and given two days to practice. Then, on the third day each group performed their story and the best told and performed would get a different amount of points. All of the teams did really well but in first was Athens. Their story was Narcissus and Echo the story went like this: Zeus goes on a walk to definitely not flirt with the nymphs and while he is walking he meets Echo and Echo is just talking and talking and it is extremely annoying so he makes it so that she will only be able to say what others say so Zeus storms off “literally” and here comes Narcissus also on a walk. He is spouting horrible poetry about himself when he spots a pond and he looks in it and sees his reflection in the pond and he really wants to kiss that person in the pond, so he does. Then, it disappeared and he gets sad. Then, it comes back and he hugs it and it disappears again and he starts screaming and Echo joins the chorus from her hiding spot and Narcissus jumps in. Secretly, Echo has always liked Narcissus and so she ran and died in a cave.

Our second place winners were Sparta. Their story was Daedalus and Icarus the story goes like this: After building the labyrinth Daedalus was imprisoned for giving Areadne a ball of yarn so she could save Theasesis who was going into the labyrinth. The king found out and put them in the labyrinth in a small cell and let his son visit every week. So, Daedalus devised a way to get out with his son and he started working every time a bird would come by he would ask it for a feather. He did this for about a month. Then, he used the wax from the candle in his cell to put them all together, he then used some of his robe as straps. The next time his son came, he put them on his son and him and they jumped out the window. As they flew Daedalus explained how Icarus shouldn't go too close to the sun or the sun would melt the wax and to not go too close to the ocean or the water would wash off the wax but Icarus didn’t heed his warnings. He flew up into the sky diving back down and he flew back up into the sky and the wax melted and he fell into the ocean.  

In third place was Thebes. Their story was Athena and Arachne. Arachne was an amazing weaver she could weave tapestries like nobody's business and one day she was weaving in the village square where one of her “fans” said, “wow Arachne you must have been taught by Athena herself.” But Arachne, being selfish and prideful, said, “no I am self-taught.” And since gods really like their names, Athena on Olympus perked up and looked down to earth to little bitty Arachne and her fans. Athena zoomed down to earth and disguised herself as an old woman “in order to look wise.” She walked over to Arachne and said, “do you really think that you’re better than Athena?” Arachne said, “yes and if anyone doubts me on that tell Athena I challenge her to a weaving contest.” So, Athena grew to full size and loomed over Arachne. Arachne said, “okay let's do this thing.” Athena conjured a huge golden loom she and Arachne sat down and began to weave. In the end, Athena had created a beautiful tapestry depicting all the gods in their glory. But Arachne did the opposite. She weaved every stupid thing that had ever happened to the gods and because of that Athena broke off a piece of the loom and started beating Arachne. The crowd started chanting, “Athena! Athena! Athena!” But then she stopped and started talking to the crowd about how you shouldn’t turn on your own people blah blah blah. Meanwhile, Arachne snuck away took a piece of thread and hung herself. But, Athena cut the string (she hated suicide) and turned her into a spider so she could forever weave her beautiful tapestries.       

So the standings were Thebes in first by a lot with 53 points! In second was Athens and Corinth with 21 points each and in third was Sparta. But, we couldn't have a tie so we chose to do a contest between Athens and Corinth. Athens’s tribute was Hayden; Corinth’s was Daerik. The contest was an arm wrestling contest so they went up to the front of the room and Daerik won so Corinth took second and Athens third. This was my favorite unit of all because we learned a lot but also had a lot of fun.