/educators/lessons/grade-5/Greek_Mythology_Cultures_and_Art

Greek Mythology: Cultures and Art

Truth or Fiction? Is the ancient Greek culture relevant to the trials and tribulations that modern students face? Can a “myth” teach us how to find meaning in our life and work?

Overview

Key Staff

This lesson can be taught by the classroom teacher; however it may be helpful to have an art teacher, art specialist or artist from the community help with drawing and watercolor segment.

Key Skills

Information Media and Technology: Research and Information Fluency
Making Art: Composing and Planning, Producing, Executing and Performing
Developing Arts Literacies: Analyzing and Evaluating - Critique

Summary

This visual arts lesson offers aesthetic, perceptual, creative, and intellectual opportunities. By creating and painting mythological characters, students will improve their ability to analyze, reorganize, critique, and create. Students will also gain insight into Greek culture through the exploration of Greek mythology and make a connection between ancient Greek culture and their own contemporary culture. Accessing the internet and books from the in-class or school library, students will develop research and design skills culminating in an original illustrated myth of their own creation.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Be able to write and speak about their creation in a culminating group forum.
  • Be able to identify their character's special abilities.
  • Be able to talk about the meaning of their character in a group forum.
  • Create watercolor illustrations, write short stories about their created character, and relate it to a specific element of mythology.
  • Look at other archetypal heroes and compare and contrast.
  • Respond to in-class group readings and individual research of Greek mythology.
  • Use the Internet, library, and in-class resources to discover basic elements of Greek mythology.
  • Share verbally what they have learned about Greek mythology in a group discussion.
  • Compare and contrast ancient Greek mythology with contemporary mythology.

Teaching Approach

Arts Integration

Teaching Methods

  • Demonstration
  • Discussion
  • Multimedia Instruction
  • Research
  • Large or Small Group Instruction

Preparation

Lesson Setup

Teacher Background

Session 1:

  • Have mythology vocabulary on the board and as handouts for the students
  • Have images of mythological characters from web or in class resources ready for students to view and discuss
  • Super heroes: a modern mythology
  • Book of Greek Myths
  • Mythological Characters Chart worksheets for students. Before photocopying the worksheet, fill in information for one character as an example

Session 2:

  • Have lined writing paper and pencils a Mythological Characters Chart worksheets ready for students
  • Students will need mythological vocabulary handout from last session

Session 3:

  • Have images of mythological characters from web or in class resources ready for students to view and discuss
  • Review Formal Visual Analysis in “How To” section of ARTSEDGE Web site for support in understanding the principles of composition, if needed
  • Review Managing Arts in the Classroom in “How To” section of ARTSEDGE Web site for support in working with students and arts materials, if needed

Session 4:

  • Have images of mythological characters from web or in class resources ready for students to view and discuss
  • Have color theory vocabulary handouts for student use
  • Have a Sample color wheel
  • Review Formal Visual Analysis in “How To” section of ARTSEDGE Web site for support in understanding the principles of composition, if needed
  • Review Managing Arts in the Classroom in “How To” section of ARTSEDGE Web site for support in working with students and arts materials, if needed

Prior Student Knowledge

A group reading of Book of Greek Myths by Ingri and Edgar D'Aulaire

Physical Space

Classroom

Grouping

  • Small Group Instruction
  • Individualized Instruction

Staging

Session 1: Arrange desks in groups of four
Session 2: Arrange desks in groups of four
Session 3: Regular classroom set up

Instruction

Resources in Reach

Here are the resources you'll need for each activity, in order of instruction.

Build Knowledge: Session 1
Engage: Session 2
Reflect

Introduction

After a group reading of Book of Greek Myths by Ingri and Edgar D'Aulaire, students will engage in open questioning and guided discussion of what they think about the reading. After generating some ideas, introduce the terms and objectives of the assignment. Provide a sample of the assignment geared toward appropriate developmental ability. Using the Mythweb.com Web site, discuss various archetypal characters.

Engage: Session 1

1. Have vocabulary words written on the board and ready to hand out to students. Begin by reviewing the following terms with the students.

  • Myth: comes from the Greek word "mythos," which originally meant "speech" or" discourse" but which later came to mean "fable" or "legend."
  • Mythology: refers to a collection of myths that together form a mythological system.
  • Demigod: a half god or an inferior deity; a fabulous hero, the offspring of a deity and a mortal.
  • Attributes: a quality that is considered as belonging to, or inherent in a person or thing; an essential or necessary property or characteristic. For example, order and harmony are attributes of Apollo.
  • Symbol: something that represents something else by association, resemblance, or convention. For example, the lyre is a symbol for Apollo.
  • Archetype: The original pattern of which all things of the same species are representations or copies; original idea, model or type.

2. Gather students close together on the floor. Refer students to the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greek and Roman Art Web site and discuss. Ask the following questions:

  • What came into your mind when you first saw these pictures?
  • Who created this piece and why?
  • When was this art created?
  • What do you think the pictures mean; what do they represent?

Build Knowledge: Session 1

1. Break students up into groups of four to research their mythological characters.

2. Review the definitions for attribute, symbol and myth on the board. Distribute the Mythological Characters Chart worksheet located within the Resource Carousel. Have a sample character filled in on the chart already and walk through this example step by step noting the origin of the data.

3. Direct each student group to consider the attribute, symbol and myth and meaning of each character and fill it in the chart. Explain that identifying the attribute, symbol and myth will give the students a deeper understanding of the meaning of the character, which is their answer for the last column of the chart.

Answers to the handout can be found in classroom encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other in-class literature and Web research.

Rotate the groups periodically so that all students will have ample time at the computer and using in-class resources.

Apply: Session 1

1. Students conduct an in-group discussion to put what they have learned in a cultural and historical context.

  • Who created the mythological gods?
  • When were they created?
  • Where were they created?
  • Why were they created?
  • What is the value and meaning of myths?

2. Consider contemporary mythological figures and compare them to those of the ancient Greeks.

How are the superheroes from the comic books, movies, television, literature, video games the same or different from mythological characters of the past?

What do these contemporary stories have in common with the ancient myths?

Engage: Session 2

1. Briefly review session 1 vocabulary. Have students refer to their vocabulary handouts.

2. Direct students to develop their own mythological character. Using what they have learned researching commonly known mythological characters, students will now create their own unique characters. Hand out new Mythological Characters Chart worksheet located within the Resource Carousel.

3. Students will create a name, one or more attributes, symbol, myth and meaningful significance for their invented character(s). Students may use their research mythological character charts as a reference for creating their characters.

Students will fill in a new mythological character chart to create a structure for their new character.

Using what they have learned researching commonly known mythological characters, students will now create their own unique characters. Hand out new Mythological Characters Chart worksheet.

4. Students will create a name, one or more attributes, symbol, myth and meaningful significance for their invented character(s). Students may use their research mythological character charts as a reference for creating their characters.

Students will fill in a new mythological character chart to create a structure for their new character.

Build Knowlege: Session 2

1. Students will write one or more myths involving their character(s)

Using complete sentences and punctuation, they will write a one page myth with a beginning, middle and end. Each myth must have a conflict to resolve and a moral. Conflicts can be made up or selected from the following list:

  • Your character is on their way somewhere. There is too much traffic, how will he/she get there in time?
  • The job requires unusual strength or knowledge, how will the character get what he or she needs to do the job?
  • Some natural disaster has befallen the community, how will the character save the day?
  • An invisible enemy has invaded, how will the character protect his or her people?
  • A valuable object has been lost or stolen. How will the character recover the object?

Students may use their handout as a reference for examples related to the assignment.

2. Encourage creativity by reminding students that the components of their writing are important because they enable the reader to understand the story. This is each student’s opportunity to create new culture, to tell a story important to them. All great new stories in our culture start somewhere; this is as good a place as any for students to affect our culture.

Apply: Session 2

1. Break students up into groups of four to discuss what they have created.

  • Who are their characters?
  • What are their attributes, symbols and myths?
  • Why did they create these characters?
  • What is the value and meaning of their story?

Engage: Session 3

Briefly review sessions 1 and 2

1. Display images from Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greek and Roman Art web site or other illustrations of mythology from in-class resources as well as examples of contemporary mythological characters. See resource box below for more suggestions for reference images.

2. Select at least 3 types of images to display; simple cartoons, line drawings with color, more complex images with shading and perspective, images with a high degree of perspective composition and detail. See suggestions in resource box below.

3. Hand out copies of the Vocabulary list for composition.

  • Rhythm: A regularly recurrent grouping of tones, shapes, lines or other element of art
  • Symmetry: Correspondence in size, shape, and relative position, of parts that are on opposite sides of a dividing plane.
  • Emphasis: To illustrate with special force; make especially distinct, positive or impressive.
  • Balance: State of equipoise, as between different elements of design.
  • Harmony: Agreement between the parts of a design or composition giving unity of effect or an aesthetically pleasing whole.
  • Variety: A collection of differing shapes, lines, colors or other element of art.
  • Unity: A totality of related parts; the reference of the elements of an artistic composition to a single main idea or point of view.
  • Shape: A characteristic visible form.
  • Form: A presentation of various shapes, either recognizable or abstract.
  • Positive space: That part of the composition which is drawn or rendered.
  • Negative space: That part of the composition which is not drawn or rendered.
  • Texture: The visible structural quality resulting from the artist’s use of elements of art.

4. Point out different ways the elements of composition such as line, texture and shape are used in each picture.

5. Review key points: one character, one symbol, one attribute, and meaningful significance. Ask students to consider using line quality, texture and shape in a way that reflects the attribute, symbol, mood, tone, or emotion that their character represents.

6. Observe the composition of the illustrations. Is there a fore, middle and background? Is there more than one figure in the composition? Does the image convey a particular scene from the myth? Does the image show action or contemplation of the characters?

Direct the students to consider the “message” of their illustration as they plan their composition. Will their image tell the story of the beginning, middle or end of their myth? Or will it be portrait of their character?

Build Knowledge: Session 3

Encourage students to be creative and unique in their illustrations while including the key points of symbol, attribute, and significant meaning.

1. Have students identify the key points from the written activity for their watercolor art project.

2. Distribute #2 or “HB” pencils and plain bond or tracing paper to students. Students may refer to existing images, without directly copying them, for ideas on postures and actions for their characters. Allow about 10 - 15 minutes for students to experiment with their compositions. Have students create several “thumbnail” sketches (small quick pencil sketches) of their characters in a variety of poses and situations to determine which illustration will be most interesting for them to paint.

3. Visit with each student to observe their rough ideas. Ask for explanations of what the students are drawing while encouraging responses to provoke deeper thought, such as: Your symbol is very interesting. What does it mean to you? I can tell by the detail in your character you have given it a lot of thought. Why does he have that expression? Discuss with the students which of their ideas best portrays their character and will be most interesting to paint.

4. Have students select the idea they will commit to watercolor.

Apply: Session 3

1. Distribute “H” pencils and watercolor paper to each student.

2. Direct students to do a light pencil drawing of their illustration on their watercolor paper. An “H” hard lead pencil (2-4) works best. If not available, a standard # 2 or HB pencil will do. Encourage students to start with a “light” touch and sharp pencils so changes can be easily erased. Students who are uncomfortable with freehand drawing can use a grid to transfer their thumbnail to the final size.

If some aspect of the drawing is difficult for the student, remind them that frustration is a natural part of the process, even for professional artists. Professional artists use “studies” to solve this problem.

3. Encourage them to keep trying and to experiment on a separate sheet of paper to work out the kinks of their drawing until they discover what they like. Keep students on task and remind them that taking their time to get their drawing worked out will make the painting part of the process go much easier.

Direct students who work more quickly than others to add more detail to their work, making it more engaging to them and others.

At the end of this session, all students should have their drawings completed and ready to add watercolor. Collect the drawings and save them for the next session.

Engage: Session 4

Briefly review sessions 1,2 and 3

1. Select at least 3 types of images; simple cartoons, line drawings with color, more complex images with shading and perspective, images with a high degree of perspective composition and detail. See resource box below for suggestions.

2. Return to the images from Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greek and Roman Art Web site or other illustrations of mythology from in-class resources as well as examples of contemporary mythological characters.

3. Hand out the color theory vocabulary lists to students.

4. Put color wheel up on the board.

This time have the students focus on the element of color in each of the images. Discuss the ways color is used in these pieces. Are they monochromatic or multi-chromatic? Are the hues intense or soft or somewhere in between? How are contrasting or complimentary colors used? Ask the students to consider using colors that reflect the attribute, symbol, mood, tone, or emotion that their character represents.

  • Hue or Tint: The actual color itself, such as red or yellow.
  • Intensity: The degree of saturation of color.
  • Value: The lightness or darkness of a color.
  • Primary colors: Red, Yellow and Blue. All colors are produced by mixing these colors. These colors cannot be made by combining any other colors.
  • Secondary colors: Orange, Green and Violet. These colors are produced by mixing any two primary colors in equal parts.
  • Tertiary colors: These colors are produced by mixing secondary colors.

Build Knowledge: Session 4

1. Do a demonstration of watercolor techniques.

Students should keep their colors pure by mixing their colors on their palettes and not directly on the paints.

They must clean their brushes when going from one color to another to avoid getting muddy colors.

Show the students how to organize their materials on their desk. For instance, water should be near the paints, and the palette should be near their paper. They then paint from the palette to the paper. In this way they can avoid “accidentally” dripping on their papers when they are reaching for the water or creating new colors.

Having a scrap paper available for experimenting with techniques is advisable and a paper towel for clean-up.

Apply: Session 4

1. Assign students to distribute drawings from the last session, brushes, watercolor paints and water jugs/cans and paper towels to each student.

2. Direct students to use watercolors to enhance and complete their drawings.

3. Circle the room, commenting on aspects of the assignment and on the student creations. Why did you use those colors? Do they relate to your character in any specific way? Could they?

If a student is struggling with an aspect of their painting such as getting the color or brush strokes they want, encourage the student to return to the experimenting phase on a separate sheet of paper to test for desired results.

At the end of the activity, students will individually share his/her art. Students will identify their characters; explain the attribute and symbol and what it means to them. Make sure students have signed their art.

4. Designate students for clean up. One student to collect and clean brushes, one to collect and clean the counters and tables, another to return all other materials to the correct place, and one to collect everyone's art, checking to see that all pieces have been signed. One student should be assigned to clean up whatever remains on the desks and another student should wipe down the desks with wet paper towels after the desks are cleared.

Reflect

1. Have students gather in forum in a big circle on floor with their written and painted activities. Begin by reviewing the vocabulary terms introduced at the beginning of the lesson.

  • Myth: comes from the Greek word "mythos," which originally meant "speech" or" discourse" but which later came to mean "fable" or "legend."
  • Mythology: refers to a collection of myths that together form a mythological system.
  • Demigod: a half god or an inferior deity; a fabulous hero, the offspring of a deity and a mortal.
  • Attributes: that which is attributed; a quality that is considered as belonging to, or inherent in a person or thing; an essential or necessary property or characteristic.
  • Symbol: something that represents something else by association, resemblance, or convention.
  • Archetype: The original pattern of which all things of the same species are representations or copies; original idea, model or type.

2. Ask the following questions:

  • What is a myth?
  • How do myths help us understand ourselves and others?
  • How are myths reflected in culture?

3. Restate the assignment and ask for volunteers to share either their stories or an explanation of the three components in their mythological creations. Have students ask the presenter questions. Each student must participate. Then, ask students as a group the following questions, rotating around the circle from student to student:

  • Which of the characters that we studied did you find most interesting? Why?
  • Did you have any problems with this assignment? If any, what were they?
  • What did you like most about these activities? What did you like the least?

Add any other questions that are generated during discussion, gauge when discussion has been exhausted, then

4. Wrap up the discussion with a summary of everything the students accomplished and learned. Note their research, writing, and art and appropriately highlight problems that occurred and how they were resolved. Congratulate all students on a job well done in an appropriate fashion. Display all art in one area of the room (if possible).

Standards

The Common Core State Standards Initiative seeks to bring diverse state curricula into alignment through a set of common learning goals and assessments. In 2010, Standards were released for English language arts and mathematics. Common standards have not yet been released for science, social studies, and other subject areas, including the arts. In addition, some states have yet to, or have chosen not to, adopt the Common Core standards.

During this transitional period, ArtsEdge will present all relevant state and nationals standards as they apply to our lessons.

National Standards for Arts Education

For the full text of the content and achievement standards in Arts Education, visit our Standards section.

ArtsEdge Lessons connect to the National Standards for Arts Education, the Common Core Standards, and a range of other subject area standards.

Common Core/State Standards

Select state and grade(s) below, then click "Find" to display Common Core and state standards.

National Standards For Arts Education
Visual Art

Grade 5-8 Visual Arts Standard 3: Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas

Grade 5-8 Visual Arts Standard 4: Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures

Grade 5-8 Visual Arts Standard 6: Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines

National Standards in Other Subjects
Language Arts

Language Arts Standard 1: Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process

Language Arts Standard 4: Gathers and uses information for research purposes

Language Arts Standard 9: Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media

Language Arts

Language Arts Standard 8: Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes

Historical Understanding

Historical Understanding Standard 2: Understands the historical perspective

Credits

Writers

Charles Nickerson
Original Writer

Ann Reilly
Adaptation

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