9 Ancient Athens and Sparta Projects and Activities

Athens and Sparta.  Sparta and Athens.  Which city-state do you prefer?  If you could go back right now to Ancient Greece and be either a wealthy citizen of Athens or a Spartan general, which would you pick?

Teaching about Athens and Sparta is one of my favorite times of the school year.  It is also one of the very clear memories I have from when I was learning about Ancient Greece in sixth grade - and we only spent about 20 minutes on it!

In this post, I'm going to list some ideas for projects and / or classroom activities having to do Athens and Sparta.

Project / Activity Ideas for Ancient Athens

  •  Guided Tour of Ancient Athens - Write a script.  Then make a video or audio recording of your tour of Athens.  You don't have to follow the script exactly.  It's just to give you some structure.  Include sound effects and some unexpected things to make it more exciting.  At a minimum you should probably take your tour guests to the acropolis, the agora, and some Athenian homes.  Perhaps you run in to some famous Athenians while you're out and about.  Socrates?  Pericles? 
  • Ancient Athens Book Jacket - Make a dust jacket for a book about Ancient Athens.  The front should have a nice picture.  It could be an aerial view of the city, or it could be a closeup of something famous - the Parthenon, for example.  You'll need a good title too.  On the inside flaps, put some highlights from the book.  Big ideas...What was Athens like?  Why is it important to history?  What are some important events and people in Athens?  Usually a book jacket will have a picture and a short bio of the author.  This can go on a flap or on the back.  It's a good idea to put some book reviews and "blurbs" from other authors too.  Or, it would be fun to put some blurbs from famous ancients.  What would Hammurabi have to say about a book on Athens?  King Tut?  
  • Athens in Your City - Another tour idea, but with a twist...You are probably aware that the United States and other countries copied elements of Greek architecture - columns in particular.  Study books, drawings, photos of the ruins of Athens, etc.  Then find places in your own city that have a similar style to places in Athens.  Put together a tour that fellow students or others could take to see how Athens' legacy exists in your city.  Wouldn't it be cool if you could take your class on a field trip of the tour you designed?

Project / Activity Ideas for Ancient Sparta

  • The REAL Spartan Race - You probably have heard of Spartan races.  They are races that test the strength, stamina, and will of the contestants.  Research the training of Spartan soldiers.  Design a real Spartan race that King Leonidas himself would have been proud to run!
  • Spartan Whose Line Is It Anyway? - What would a Spartan get on a pizza if they could have one?  What would happen if you put a Spartan kid in a modern-day middle school?  Think of a number of these scenarios and put them on index cards.  Put the index cards in a pile and have pairs or groups draw a card.  Then they read the scenario and have to act it out on the fly - no rehearsal - this is improv!  Record a video for hilarious viewing later... 

Ancient Athens and Sparta Combo Projects / Activities

  • Athletic Shoe Design - We all love our sneakers.  They are part of our individual style.  What if you had to design the shoes that athletes from Athens and Sparta would wear in the next Ancient Greek Olympics?  (They didn't have athletic shoes, of course, but just roll with it.)  Design a set of shoes for each city-state.  Incorporate the values and ideals of each city in their design.  Draw your designs or create them on a computer.  Extra credit - actually make the shoes!
  • iPod Playlists - If ancient Athenians and Spartans had iPods, what songs would be on them?  List 10 songs for each city-state, including the song title and the artist or band.  They can be real songs or made-up songs.  Have fun with it!  Consider adding an icon for each song too.  Examples:  An ancient Minoan might have "Eruption" by Van Halen on his iPod.  A Mycenaean might have "Horse With No Name" by America on her iPod.
  • Athens and Sparta National Anthems - Get with a partner.  One of you will write a national anthem for Athens, the other for Sparta.  Make up the tune or use the Star Spangled Banner if you like.  Each of you will get up and sing your national anthem to the class! 
  • Athens and Sparta Flags - On one side of a piece of paper, design a flag for Athens.  Do the same for Sparta on the other side.  (If the colors will bleed through, just go ahead and use two sheets.)  As a class or with a group, flip through them and see if everybody can guess which one's which.  
Thanks for reading!  Maybe you found an idea you like, or maybe you thought of a better one.

Please let me hear from you in the comments if you tried any of these...

Here are a few other ideas for Ancient Greece projects:

37 Project Ideas for the Geography of Ancient Greece
11 Ancient Minoans Project Ideas
13 Ancient Mycenaeans Projects / Activities

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