Mythology: Common Characteristics

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SWBAT identify and apply knowledge of the common characteristics of myths.

Big Idea

Discover how the Greek gods struggled with the Titans and gained control of the heavens, the earth and the underworld.

Activator: Homework Review

15 minutes

Students arrive to class with the Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Greece family tree worksheet that was assigned for homework in the previous class. In order to fill it our correctly students need to read the Greek Gods chart carefully and thoroughly, which is what makes this assignment perfect for building that skill.

At first glance, most students think the assignment will be a breeze, but many find it challenging. The students are engaged by the topic and that keeps them working at the task. These worksheets are on pages 2 and 3 of this packet. An answer sheet is available here. The information contained in these documents become a useful resource throughout the unit. After reviewing the homework, we spend time on the first page in the packet noting the eight common characteristics of myths.  

The one change that we make is to add that sometimes myths teach a lesson. It is important that students realize that not all of the characteristics appear in every myth.

The Beginning of Everything!

30 minutes

The information in the family tree just scratches the surface of Greek mythology and wets the students’ appetite for more. For that, we turn to D’Aularies’ Book of Greek Myths (Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc., 1962) and read pages 8-15. Along the way we note the common characteristics as they appear in the text. For example, on page 9 we note the appearance of many gods, the fact that they look like humans and have human emotions, the mention of superhuman qualities, acts of violence, and that the gods sometimes are disguised as humans or animals. Also, we admire the detailed and colorful illustrations that bring the story to life and discover how the Greek gods struggled with the Titans and gained control of the heavens, the earth and the underworld.

After reading page 15, we stop and close the books. The students take a quiz on what we read so far. You can access the quiz by logging into your teacher account on and entering this code: SOC-3691368. A print copy of the quiz appears here. Then we go back to the text and read pages 16-23 to learn more about Zeus and his family.

Wrap Up

15 minutes

In the next section of the lesson, I ask students to search for Natural Phenomena in myths. The text contains numerous explanations of natural phenomena, such as the creation of the world and the reasons for thunder and lightening. I have students work in pairs or small groups to find as many examples as possible. 

Homework: I assign students the Greek Gods and Goddesses packet for homework in which they need to match a written description with an illustration and also need to fill in  a chart with both the Greek and Roman names of a few of the gods and goddesses.