Myths & Legends: A Middle School Unit Study

I recently sat down with my daughter to discover what subjects she wanted to study. Greek and Norse Mythology were at the top of her list. I was not surprised. For the past few months, my middle school aged daughter has been fascinated with thePercy Jackson series. I thereby was not surprised that she used the Barnes & Noble gift card she received for Christmas to purchase the boxed set.

mythslegendsTeaching mythology in middle school and high school is a great way to get students interested in reading, writing, and researching ancient history. With the recent popularity of Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan as well as Harry Potter and The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, it has never been easier to capture their attention.

Getting Started with Myths & Legends

Using the book Myths & Legends from DK Publishing as a spine for this unit, I began to gather materials and projects to engage her in a self-guided unit study.  {Many thanks to DK Publishing for providing the book to us for review. Please see my full Disclosure Policy for more details.}

This book retells the stories central to every culture that have been passed down from generation to generation. Well known tales from the Ancient Greeks, as well as lesser-known, but richly colorful, myths of the Americas and the East are included.

What was most appealing about this book was how universal themes such as creation, heroic trials, tricksters’ tales, and death and the afterlife are compared across different cultures. The cultures featured are:

  • Classical Europe (Roman & Greek)
  • Northern, Western, and Eastern Europe
  • Asia
  • Africa
  • The Americas and Oceania

Myths & Legends Philatelic Exhibit

The past few months, my daughter has been utilizing her knowledge of myths & legends to put together a philatelic exhibit entitled, Mythology of the World. She has gathered a variety of philatelic material (postage stamps, first day covers, cancellation marks, as well as postcards and maximum cards) to create a visual story of of how myths & legends continue to captivate us today.

She has entered her project in both local and regional exhibitions and placed well considering how quickly she put it together. She is excited to use the Myths & Legends book from DK Publishing to expand her projects. Her vision is to improve on this one as well as create additional exhibits – one each for British, Greek, and Norse mythology. {A single frame exhibit, as shown below, typically has 16 pages (8 1/2 x 11″).}
myths

A philatelic exhibition is an exhibition of stamps and postal history where stamp collectors (philatelists) compete for medals. The displays are shown in glass frames, and the exhibition is normally accompanied by stamp dealer bourses and post office stands where stamps and other philatelic items may be purchased.

National Mythology Exam

During our research, we also learned of the National Mythology Exam (NME), the most prominent undertaking of Excellence Through Classics, a committee of the American Classical League dedicated to promoting and supporting the study of classics. This seemed like the perfect challenge for her and she was equally intrigued. She plans to take the exam in 2016.

For students in grades 6-9, the examination process consists of a basic 30-item exam, 10 questions on the theme (Theseus), and at least one 10-item literary sub-test of the student’s choice of the following:

  • Iliad
  • Odyssey
  • Aeneid
  • Native American tales
  • African tales
  • Norse Mythology

Homeschooled students are welcome to take the NME. Parents are expected to serve as proctors of the exam, following the same procedures lined out for regular classroom teachers.

The National Mythology Exam website also provides suggestions for texts and resources.

Myths & Legends Unit Resources

In preparation for the NME, I will continue to gather materials and resources for her. We’ve begun to discuss additional projects and activities to help her in her quest.

Some teachers use mythology as a stand-alone unit; other teachers have entire, year-long courses dedicated to the study of myths and legends from around the world. No matter how you choose to teach myths and legends, you’re bound to find some helpful resources here.

  • Greek Mythology – This website contains copies of the Greek stories as well as a wide variety of notes, worksheets, and activities
  • Ticia shares a fun scavenger hunt activity in her post, Greek Mythology Lesson
  • The Scholastic book Greek Mythology Activities includes a mock interview with a god or goddess, a reproducible board game, mapping activities, a read-aloud play, and lots more
  • Classical Mythology – This website provides an extensive list of activities and lessons for the study of mythology with middle school students

About Eva Varga

Eva is passionate about education. She has extensive experience in both formal and informal settings. She presently homeschools her two young children, teaches professional development courses through the Heritage Institute, and writes a middle level secular science curriculum called Science Logic. In addition to her work in education, she is an athlete, competing in Masters swimming events and marathons. In her spare time she enjoys reading, traveling, learning new languages, and above all spending time with her family. ♥

1 comment on “Myths & Legends: A Middle School Unit Study

  1. This looks great Eva, what a fun study! We have enjoyed the Norse Myths, but it’s been a while, might need to pull them out again 🙂

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