We’ve been exploring Ancient Greece for about three weeks now. The kids have been so into the mythology and the hero stories we haven’t covered much else besides the geometry and mathematicians. And that’s OK, the mythology, Iliad, and Odyssey are so huge to the foundation of the civilization that this will make a good base when they revisit Ancient Greece. Over the next few weeks I want to cover a little philosophy, a little government, and the Olympics.
We kick-started our wider exploration by spending the whole day in Ancient Greece! We took inspiration from the book Spend the Day in Ancient Greece.
There is so much to cover in this book, and we certainly didn’t fit it all in in one day! We’d already covered clepsydras, made a Trojan Horse, and we have plans to put together an Olympic event so I skipped those sections, and we rearranged some parts to work better in our day.
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The book weaves the story of a moderately wealthy family though all the activities. The children wake up and get dressed, then the daughter weaves while the son has lessons. In late morning the family goes to the theatre to hear a poetry contest. The mother and daughter head home while father and son watch sporting events. In the later afternoon the family gets ready for a parade celebrating the goddess Athena and celebrates at the top of the Acropolis. Finally, the family picnics with all other Athenians in a big celebration feast.
The previous evening, I’d whipped up a little booklet so that the girls could take notes about their day. After each activity we stopped for a few minutes to answer any relevant questions. You can download a copy of the booklet here – it’s customized to what I intended to cover, so it may or may not work for you – feel free to take it as inspiration!
I started by reading the beginning story set up pages aloud, and then we got dressed up! The girls loved wearing their chitons and kept them on until we left the house much later in the day. I then read the beginning of the weaving section. We’d already started weaving so the girls didn’t need much introduction or help. We were also halfway through “The Wanderings of Odysseus” so I read aloud until their attention lagged. (Apparently this book is super expensive…we borrowed our copy from the library!)
I read a couple of sidebars about the types of food typical to Ancient Greece, then we then headed to the kitchen to prepare dinner. (WIN – dinner was ready before lunch!) The girls helped to prepare all the ingredients for a spanakopita pie. We used the recipe from A Virtual Vegan, along with her vegan feta cheese recipe. They got the cheese made and lined the bottom of the pan with phyllo pastry, then I sauteed up spinach and finished up the assembly while they completely independently made a pound cake, as suggested in the book, for our dessert. The girls did really well. Fungirl took charge of deciding which cups and spoons to use to get the right measurements, and they took turns with everything else.
For our last morning activity we headed to school! I read the introduction to Alexander’s Lessons and we worked through a couple or the alphabet and name writing activities in the book. I also added in a number writing activity from ‘Can You Count in Ancient Greek?’ and that kept us occupied until lunch time. We then read about “Lunch in the Agora” and the girls sketched some coins.
Earlier in the morning, while the girl were still mixing the cake I’d chopped extra veggies. They went to set up the table outside while I threw pita breads and frozen falafel in the oven to warm up. We took hummus, tzatziki, olives, and salad outside for a fun meze style lunch with our homeschool buddies. All our lunch time food came from Trader Joe’s – and they carry vegan tzatziki!
The kids ate and got to run around for a little bit. We then rounded them up and they listened to the story sections about Greek theatre and we made masks. The other family brought along some props and a set of Ancient Greek Readers Theatre plays. The kids chose parts with the two adults filling in the rest. We acted through two of the plays – they were fantastic! The kids loved having simple props to hold and really enjoyed the fun stories.
We spent the rest of the afternoon outside – we’d had a full day “doing school” straight through from 9am-3pm – just like a normal school day. We never do that anymore!
Once our friends left we headed inside and I read aloud the parts of “Spend the Day in Ancient Greece” about the parade and Athena’s Feast. I completely forgot that I’d meant to also throw in the section on “Getting Ready for the Feast” and make some jewelry, but we were hungry!
We ate our spanakopita for dinner. I thought it was fantastic – and have been enjoying eating all the leftovers ever since! The girls got about halfway through and decided it wasn’t for them. They did, however,enjoy drizzling their cake with warm agave (it would traditionally have been honey), cashew yogurt, and dried fruit.
Before bed I asked the girls to finish up any notes from the day in their books – we used these notes later in the week to freewrite a journal entry or “day in the life” story.
Again, you can download a free copy of the booklet.
If you have the ability to dive into this book and spend a whole day in Ancient Greece I highly recommend it. We had a blast – and were exhausted in a good way at the end of the day. Unfortunately we missed out on the Spend the Day in Ancient Egypt version of the book last Fall, but I’ll certainly be looking out for the Spend the Day in Ancient Rome edition when we get to the Romans!