Myth Madness: Medusa & Athena

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SWBAT recount myths and determine the central message of the myth.

Big Idea

In this lesson, students will read the Greek myth of Medusa & Athena and complete a story map on the myth.

Enroll Students Into Learning

5 minutes

Today, I meet my students on the rug and we start out be reviewing what we know so far about Greek mythology.  Yesterday, we learned that there are three major reasons Ancient Greeks wrote myths: to explain something in nature, to teach a lesson, or to celebrate hero stories.  We also quickly review our Greek Mythology Family Tree Anchor Chart, where we discuss how the Titans and Olympians came to be according to ancient mythology. 

Experience Learning

5 minutes

Today, we’ll get started on reading our first myth together.  Before we begin reading though, I explain to the students that there are many versions of the stories we’re going to be reading together over the next week or so.  We take a second and discuss how Greek myths belong to the genre of traditional literature, and as we know from studying this genre earlier in the year, traditional literature often started through oral story telling.  Since so many people told the stories, and then those stories were passed on by other people, the stories get changed and there become many different versions of the same story.  I explain to the kids that throughout the week or so that we’re reading Greek myths, I’ll bring in additional texts to read (which they can read during centers, when finished with work, etc.), but it’s important that they know they may come across another story that is similar, but not exactly the same as what we’ve read together.

With that, we had back to our seats and begin to read our first myth together.  Today, we read through the story of Medusa and Athena.  This is a great first myth to read with the kids because many of the students know of Medusa, and know that she has “snake hair”, which of course is very intriguing for them!  What they don’t know, however, is how Medusa got this “snake hair”, and what the myth’s central message truly is for readers!  As we read, the students are hanging on each word to see what happens!  What could be better!

Label New Learning

5 minutes

After we have read the myth for today, we take a look at our Greek Mythology Family Tree Anchor Chart.  I ask the students if we were introduced to any of the Olympians today in our text.  The students say yes, we met Athena, so I add a clip art picture of Athena to our chart. (Clipart created by The LibraryFox and is available for purchase within her TeachersPayTeachers store.)  We take a second to describe Athena: What character traits does she have?  Do you think she treats mortals well or poorly?  Do you think what she did to Medusa was right?

After discussing Athena, I ask if we’ve met any other characters in this myth.  The kids say yes, that we met Medusa.  We take a second to describe Medusa based on what we learned about her today: What character traits does she have?  Do you think she deserved what Athena did to her?  I explain to the students that Medusa isn’t exactly one of the Olympians, or the Titans, but she is included in quite a bit of Greek mythology.  Since we can’t put her in the family tree with the gods and goddesses, we’ll place her at the bottom of our chart, and we’ll call this section “Allusions”.  I explain that “allusions” are stories (or parts of stories) that are often referred to in other stories, books, etc.  In fact, many of the allusions that we’ll come across over the next week or so as we read together are still relevant today!  I add our clip art picture of Medusa to our chart!

Demonstrate Skills

10 minutes

Now that we’ve read and discussed the text quite a bit, we’re going to work on completing a short story map for the myth.  The story map requires the students to identify the following:

-The myth’s characters

-The myth’s setting

-A summary of the myth

-The central message of the myth

Since this is our first myth, today, I’ll model for students how to complete a story map like this.  We get started, working together on identifying all the parts, as I write on the SmartBoard and the students write at their seats.  


5 minutes

When we are all finished, I ask the students to take out their Greek Mythology booklet covers (which we created yesterday and have stored in our red reading folders), open them up, and tuck their recently completed Medusa & Athena story map inside.  Then I ask the students to put their Greek mythology booklets back into their red reading folders.  The students are already asking which myth we’ll read tomorrow!  This is music to my ears!