My Top 3 Greek Mythology Units

Greek Mythology Units for Middle School Students

Greek Mythology is hands-down one of the most popular units that I have ever taught to my middle school students–second only to my Fun Poetry Unit. With the rise of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series and other modern allusions to Greek Mythology, students’ interest in the ancient stories is higher than ever. I love to capitalize on that interest and teach students important literacy skills while enjoying the engaging stories of well-known Greek mythical figures.

When I teach Greek Mythology, I divide our study up into three subunits. I begin building students’ base knowledge about twelve major Greek gods and goddesses. Following that, we spend some time reading and analyzing the themes of several famous Greek myths. And finally, we study The Hero’s Journey and eight of the most well-known Greek Heroes. The entire unit takes about a month and students LOVE it! At the end of each lesson, they are literally BEGGING for more Greek Mythology!

Let’s take a closer look at each of the subunits!

1. Greek Gods and Goddess Unit

Lesson Plans for Each of the Twelve major gods and goddesses from Greek Mythology.
Greek Gods and Goddesses Unit

First, my students and I take a look at ancient Greek Deity. Greek Mythology is full of interesting characters, but perhaps none so intriguing as the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece! This FUN no-prep middle school unit examines each goddess and god individually. Students will be able to recognize each deity’s Greek and Roman name, his or her title or realm, the symbols associated with him or her and become familiar with the major myths involving each god or goddess. The twelve gods I include in this unit are Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Hades, Athena, Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Hermes, Hephaestus and Artemis.

For each deity, I use a note card for students to keep track of the vital information of each god–by vital, I mean the information mentioned previously and that will also be on the test! On the flip side of the note card, I’ve included an artist’s depiction of the god or goddess. If we have time, I’ll ask students to color the whole thing; but at a minimum, I ask that students at least color any visible symbols of the goddess or god. This helps them recognize the goddess or god in art, pictures, etc.

We end this part of the unit with a test (review included) and a fun creative activity that my students have always really enjoyed!

2. Introduction to Greek Mythology

Introduction to Greek Mythology.
Introduction to Greek Mythology Unit

Secondly, in the unit, I like to pause and reflect with students about why it’s a good idea to study Greek Mythology. I have devoted an entire additional blog post about my top four reasons we should study Greek Mythology, so I won’t go into that here. However, I do review these reasons with students as part of the unit. We read seven Greek Myths and analyze the theme of each myth. I really enjoy pausing with students and considering what might be a life lesson that can be learned from each myth. Typically, there are many in each myth. Often, my students decipher themes that haven’t even occurred to me! I love this part of the unit where students can think critically!

Lesson Plans for Greek Mythology
Lesson Materials for Introducing Greek Mythology for Middle School Students.

The myths that we read include:

  • The Tragedy of Echo and Narcissus
  • The Tragedy of Phaethon
  • Prometheus and the Theft of Fire
  • The Story of Pandora
  • The Judgment of Paris
  • Oedipus and the Oracle at Delphi
  • The Minotaur, Daedalus and Icarus

Each of these stories is so fun to read with students! Some they may have heard of before and others they may not be familiar with. Either way, they are exciting myths to study and analyze together. This unit also includes some creative projects at the end that are a fun way to wrap up this section of our Greek Mythology study.

3. The Hero’s Journey – Greek Mythology

The Hero's Journey Greek Mythology Unit Plan

Finally, the last portion of my Greek Mythology unit is centered around Joseph Campbell’s monomyth or “The Hero’s Journey.” We begin the unit by introducing the journey and then proceed to read about eight famous Greek Heroes: Perseus, Atalanta, Bellerophon, Achilles, Theseus, Heracles, Jason and Odysseus. For each hero story, students can mark how the hero went through The Hero’s Journey and then complete an additional fun and creative activity.

This unit concludes with a formal writing assignment that takes students through the entire writing process discussing their personal hero. We work on prewriting/brainstorming, drafting, revising, editing and publishing. It’s maybe less fun, per se, for students, but it is meaningful for each them to think about someone they admire and why.

Fun and Engagement are Contagious!

As with most lessons we teach in our classrooms, if we are having fun, our students are more likely to have fun. Smiles and enthusiasm are contagious; so are pessimism and dread! So find something to be happy about and have fun studying Greek Mythology with your students!

One thing that may put a smile on your face is that if you bundle these three resources, you’ll get 20% off!

Greek Mythology Unit Plan 20% off Discount

Talk Soon,

Brenna (Mrs. Nelson)


Lame Duck Lessons – Holiday Edition (Middle School)

You know those awkward “lame duck” days at the end of a semester or just before a long school holiday? Perhaps you’ve just finished a great ELA unit and aren’t ready to dive into another project. Your middle school students are preparing to leave for an extended break and their thoughts are far from school: they are dreaming of ski trips and snowball fights; Christmas presents and holiday feasts. What is the point of beginning something new when you’ll have to reteach it when school resumes?

On the other hand, you don’t want to waste precious learning time! You want your class to be rigorous and valuable to your students. In addition, no teacher wants to be known as the “easy” or “party” teacher! What is a teacher to do?

Holiday Lame Duck Lessons are the perfect solution! What is a Lame Duck Lesson, you may ask? A Lame Duck Lesson is a high-interest, self-contained lesson that usually lasts just 1-2 class periods. These festive activities continue to teach core content and demand high expectations of students, but do it in a fun and engaging manner.

Two of my favorite middle school resources are perfect for those odd days where it just doesn’t make sense to embark upon a new unit!

1. Write a Business Letter (to Santa) – Middle School ELA Activity

How to Write a Business Letter (to Santa) Holiday ELA Lesson and Resources

A Holiday Lesson that Aligns with Core Curriculum

  1. In this lesson, students will learn how to write a business letter: a totally legitimate Language Arts lesson! While students may in future find themselves writing business letters in a wide variety of real-life circumstances, they can learn and practice in a fun and festive way in your classroom.

Let the Slides Presentation do the Teaching for You

This resource is no-prep and includes a step-by-step lesson plan and outline. Following an instructional and engaging Slides Presentation, students will write a letter to Santa Claus presenting a Christmas wish list. Alternatively, if students are uncomfortable with this assignment for any reason, they may write a business letter to anyone they choose for any purpose.

These letters may be fun and silly or contemplative and serious. I usually leave this up to the students.

Typically, this lesson takes about one 50-minute class period. It’s a great way to continue teaching your students important skills, while also not committing to a weeks-long unit.

2. Celebrating Diversity in the Holiday Season

Another Lame Duck Holiday resource that I like to use in my middle school Language Arts classes is my “Celebrating Diversity in the Holiday Season” lesson. While many students may celebrate Christmas, it is important to recognize those that may celebrate differently (or not at all). The last thing we as teachers would want to do is marginalize any group or groups of our students. Instead, teachers might educate students about a few of the holidays that are often celebrated towards the end of the calendar year: Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas. This teaching resource does just that!

While there are many other holidays that could be recognized, these were the three that I chose to have my students compare and contrast for this activity. Students will read a short one-page informational article describing the history and origins of each holiday. Following their reading, they will complete a compare / contrast graphic organizer to help them list the differences and similarities among the three holidays.

Celebrating Diversity in the Holiday Season.

To take it further, students can practice their paragraph writing skills by writing a paragraph summarizing both the similarities and differences they have listed on the graphic organizer. With this one simple holiday activity, students are practicing their informational text reading, close reading, reading for detail, analytical skills, paragraph writing and more!

Holiday Activities that teach core curriculum are some of my favorites! How do you like to keep students engaged during the Holiday Season?

Happy Holidays!

Brenna (Mrs. Nelson)