Caylyn Tate Ancient Rome Social Studies Unit Education 405 Teaching Social Studies: Curriculum and Instruction Professor McEachron Fall 2012 cmtate wiki net Table of contents

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Anticipatory Set:

People building houses have always had this one big problem (which you may have had also if you ever tried to build a clubhouse), how do you get the roof to stay up?” “How do you build the part of the wall over the door or the window?” Have students quickly write in their Social Studies journal their solution. (Have a long piece of wood or stone that goes over the whole way from one wall to the other.) “To make a big building, you need very long beams to make a flat roof like that. What if you didn’t have big trees to get the wood from in your environment, like in the Mediterranean?” Have students quickly write in their Social Studies journal their solution.

The arch is a way of making a roof or a doorway or a window without using any beams at all: just a lot of small stones, or small blocks of wood, or clay bricks. That's a lot cheaper and easier to get than the big beams. You use the weight of the blocks to hold the arch together.

Teaching Input:

Project the first diagram of a Roman arch and go over the arch vocabulary. Look through pictures of aqueducts and pictures of the Roman Colosseum. Give a brief history of the aqueduct (Build long stone channels to carry clean water from nearby hills to the towns because of the sewage that was in the still standing water) and Colosseum (history provided in the Historical Narrative). (Questions for understanding: “What’s the difference between the aqueduct arches and the arches in the Colosseum?” “The Colosseum and aqueduct both have arches, but have different purposes. Describe them.” “Why do you think the emperor (Vespasian) wanted to build such a large ampitheatre? What contributions do you think it brings (and brought) to Rome?” “Why would the Romans build aqueducts? What are the benefits of having them throughout the empire?”)


Show students how to start building an arch with the provided small wooden blocks and let them try to build their own arches. Use a few trapezoidal pieces to use as keystones. Give the students minimal instruction and let them experiment with different ways to put up the arch.

Checking for Understanding:

After students have constructed the base give students a large U-shaped block or a guide for the blocks to sit on for the arch shape. Have students test the completed arch’s stability by removing the U-shapes. Introduce the use of imposts on top of the pier part of the arch. After a difficult period of trial and error, students will have a greater appreciation for the feat of engineering required to build an arch. (Questions for understanding: “Imagine doing this with blocks weighing as much as a car”. “How do you think Roman architects solved this problem?” “How would you solve this engineering problem without cranes or modern day construction machines/vehicles?” –opportunity to bring up/review simple machines)

Example of wooden block arches:


Guided Practice:
Have students make simple models of Roman arches out of cereal boxes or other cardboard boxes. Students’ focus should be on important features of Roman architecture. Students cut an arch shape out of their box, color the arch and label its different elements, including the keystone, pier and foundation. Refer to the first diagram the students looked at during the input.

Example of cardboard box labeled arches:

“Why was architecture important to the Roman Empire?” “What did arches and aqueducts supply to the empire?” Have students make a list in response to these questions in their Social Studies journal. Collect these journals as a formative assessment of understanding of the meaning of the lesson.

Independent Practice:

Introduce how to compare and contrast. (“Making a list or statement of the similarities and differences between two objects or events.” Example: Comparing and contrasting appearance of the city of Rome today and the city of Rome in 80 AD- no electronics, cars, etc. but they still have some structures or buildings still standing). Have students write a few sentences comparing and contrasting architecture in ancient Rome (arches, aqueducts, etc.) and architecture today.

Pictures of the Colosseum to be shown to class:

The Colosseum:,i:143


Exit Questions: Evaluating Understanding
Name:_____________________________________ Date: _______________

Pick or fill in the answer that best suites the question.

1. What is the following a picture of?

a. an Arena

b. The Colosseum

2. Why did ancient Roman architects build aqueducts?

a. Drain the sewage in the river water

b. To bridge two sides together

c. Bring water to and from the city

d. A and C
3. Ancienct Roman architects built the Colosseum to

a. Have a central place a majority of citizens could gather at once

b. House gladiator matches

c. A and B

4. What is the following picture of?

a. Arches

b. Aqueduct

c. The Colosseum

d. Bridge

Lesson #3 Biography: Myths of Minerva

Third grade; general education social studies classroom


National Social Studies Curriculum Standards:

Culture: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of culture and cultural diversity

Examine the origins and continuing influence of key ideals of the democratic republican form

of government, such as individual human dignity, liberty, justice, equality, and the rule of law,  


  1. Given the reading of Minerva, students will respond to questions about Roman gods/goddesses myths and their purpose to the Romans

  2. Students will name a few Roman gods and goddesses (Minerva and another of their choice) and why the Gods serve as role models for Roman citizens


-McCaughrean, Geraldine . Orchard Book of Roman Myths. New York: Orchard Books, 2003.;

-God and Goddesses Handout, Roman Gods and Goddesses Handout, Exit Question Handout ( attached below); Map of Roman Empire

- An hour

Introduction: Ask students if they have heard a myth or legend. Explain/define how a myth is different from a story. Introduce how they will hear Roman myths about gods and goddesses. The gods protected and helped those Romans to do good deeds and encouraged them to act properly. Define god/goddess, wisdom and thoughtfulness.

Content Focus: Talk about how Roman gods and goddesses were different than the ones they may be familiar with (Christian or Jewish God, or Allah etc.) because each one had its own history, job, and purpose or polytheistic (defined below). The Roman Empire was one of the few ancient empires, which encouraged and accepted multiple types of religions from those lands they conquered; however, they did have a system of their own. (Culture Diversity)

Explain that most myths were initially handed down through the oral tradition. Read out loud one myth. Read The Orchard Book of Roman Myths. Ask about which elements of the Roman myths and gods (or goddesses) make the stories believable or unbelievable. What are some of the main elements/meaning do you think was the purpose to take away from some of the stories for the Roman people? (Answer: Roman gods and goddesses served as role models for Roman citizens and would also do things to benefit the Romans if they behaved properly.) Focus on the story of Minerva with questions like: Leading questions for these topics include: If this myth takes place in a coastal town along the Roman Empire, can someone come up here and outline where the town could possibly be? (Use Roman Empire map attached) Why was Minerva’s gift better? (The townspeople had more uses for the olive tree.) Why did she give that gift to the townspeople? (The townspeople were gracious with their gift) What words would you use to describe the Roman goddess Minerva?

Explain how Roman gods were explanations for natural things around them for which there was no other explanation known. For example, if there was little rainfall and little grain to harvest (gather), the Romans would pray to Ceres the goddess of the harvest to provide them with more grain.

Supply students with the Gods and Goddesses handout (short definition of a few Roman gods) and secondary resources from the school library. Fill out Student Handout 1 by modeling with what was already learned and discussed from the Minerva story. Allow them to look through the sources and fill in the chart on another god or goddess of their choice.

Ask the students to share their god or goddess of their choice which they studied. Why were they important? Let students create their own god or goddess by requiring them to fill out a similar chart to the studied Roman gods and drawing a picture on the back.

Closure: Why would gods and goddesses be important to the Romans? Can you think of any other society that may have had or has multiple gods? (Prompt with Native Americans) Were the colonists very accepting of the Native American’s different beliefs? How do you think the Romans ability to accept others beliefs helped the empire? Explain how more people were willing to live under an empire where they can still practice their beliefs, which may have helped the empire’s reign last so long.


Formative: Students’ responses during questioning while reading the myth about Minerva.

Summative: Students’ correctly identifying the qualities and purpose of the goddess Minerva, along with an additional god or goddess they select. Student’s creation of their own god or goddess by addressing it’s qualities, purpose, and an interesting fact or short myth about their create deity. Student’s responding to the Exit Questions correctly.


Minerva is the Roman goddess of wisdom, medicine, the arts, dyeing, science and trade, but also of war. Minerva is the daughter of Jupiter (king of all the gods) and said to be born of his brain. She was born armed and fortified with wisdom and virtue. Minerva was probably the favorite child out of all of Jupiter’s children.

Story of Minerva:

Neptune, Lord of the Sea, was a very powerful god. He loved attention. He loved having towns build temples to worship him. He loved the gifts people brought him. Neptune was always on the lookout for towns that had not yet been claimed by a god. He wanted as many towns as possible to call his own. Although towns could only have one god to watch over them, gods could watch over as many towns as they chose. One day, Minerva, goddess of wisdom, and Neptune, lord of the sea, both claimed a coastal village. Normally, the people in the village would have been thrilled to be selected by a god to watch over them. But two gods at once? A town could have only one guardian, and they did not want to choose. They did not want to anger either god. Minerva, who was wise as well as beautiful, understood their worry. She suggested that both gods should give the town a gift. The townspeople could decide which gift was better. Neptune loved the idea. The townspeople, if possible, were even more nervous than before. Neptune tapped the side of the mountain. Water flowed out in a beautiful stream. Fresh water was so important. When they tasted the water, it was salt water! Then Minerva rewarded the townspeople for being gracious (define to third graders as kind and pleasant) with the gift and waved her hand. An olive tree began to grow. The people tasted the olives. Smiles broke out. The olives were delicious. The olive tree would provide food, shelter, and oil for cooking. It was a magnificent gift indeed. But no coastal village would risk angering the lord of the sea, the mighty Neptune. Fortunately for the people, they did not have to choose. Neptune threw back his head and laughed his mighty roar. "Yours is a far better gift than mine, my lovely niece. The village is yours!" Even today, Minerva's special tree is the olive and grows along the coasts of the Mediterranean.
Vocabulary: polytheistic- the worship or belief in multiple deities; wisdom- a deep understanding and realization of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to apply perceptions, judgments and actions; myth- A traditional story, esp. one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon; gracious- kind and pleasant

Student Handout 1

Name: ____________________________________ Date:________________________

Roman God/Goddess

Qualities or Abilities

Purpose/Meaning to Romans

What They’ve Done for the Romans


Your Roman God/Goddess:

Name of God/Goddess

Qualities or Abilities

Purpose/Meaning to Romans

What they’ve done for the Romans

Draw a picture on the back

Student Handout 2

Gods and Goddesses
(The names in parenthesis are the Gods or Goddesses that have different names for Greek mythology than in Roman mythology but are similar)
The Titans – The first gods of the universe

Cronus and Rhea – parents

(Saturn) – the youngest child of Gaea, the earth and Uranus, the sky, ruler of the Titans, father of Jupiter
The Olympians – lived on Mt. Olympus, children of Saturn
(Zeus)– ruler of all the gods, god of the skies
(Neptune) – god of the sea and sea travel
(Pluto) – god of the dead and underworld, god of wealth and greed
(Juno) - queen of the gods, wife of Zeus
(Ceres) – goddess of the harvest and growth, grain
(Vesta) – goddess of the hearth, fire, protector of home and family
Olympian Children
(Minerva) – goddess of handicrafts, wisdom, and war
Apollo – God of light, truth, healing, archery, music
(Diana) – Apollo’s twin sister, goddess of the hunt and the moon, wild things, protector of children and young animals
(Mercury) – God of sleep and dreams, messengers, Protector of travelers
(Mars) – God of war and violence
(Vulcan) – god of fire, god of the forge (blacksmith), maker of armor and weapons

(Bacchus) – god of wine and fertility, born to a mortal

(Proserpina) - queen of the underworld, maiden of spring
(Venus) - goddess of love and beauty
(Cupid) – God of love

Exit Questions:

Name:____________________________________ Date:________________

  1. A myth is

    1. Something told concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social wonder

    2. An account of fictional people and events told for people to enjoy

  1. A myth in Roman culture was usually told orally TRUE or FALSE

  1. Define polytheism:

Believing in several gods and/or goddesses


Lesson 4 Inquiry Lesson: The Fall of the Roman Empire
Background Information:

The Roman Empire lasted from 27 BC - 476 AD, a period exceeding 500 years. At its most powerful the territories of the Roman Empire included lands in West and South Europe (the lands around the Mediterranean), Britain, Asia Minor, North Africa including Egypt. The decline of the Roman Empire was due to many reasons but the major causes of the decline are detailed below. There was no specific order of the causes for the fall of the Roman Empire. Different causes occurred over its time period of over five hundred years.

Over the year’s antagonism developed between the Senate and the Emperor, beginning with the assassination of Julius Caesar. Often he rallied his troops by his own personal exertions, stopping those who fled, keeping others in their ranks, and seizing men by the throat, turned them again towards the enemy. He became a spell-binding orator able to sway others to his will through the force of his words. He was an accomplished writer who eloquently advertised his own achievements. He was a brilliant military leader, who over nine years of continuous fighting conquered Gaul adding modern-day France, parts of Switzerland and the Low Countries to Rome's possessions. With the strength of his victorious legion backing him up, Julius Caesar marched on the city of Rome and grabbed the reins of power. Julius Caesar was a man who changed history. With the corruption between the two political forces, the Roman Emperor had the legal power to rule Rome’s religious, civil and military affairs with the Senate acting as an advisory body. The emperor had power over life and death. The powerful, spoilt, wealthy Roman Emperors inevitably became corrupt and many lived a debauched, deluded and immoral lifestyle. The Roman Empire saw many examples of antagonism between the Senators and the Emperors. Either the Senators didn't like the Emperor or the Emperors was at odds with the Senators.

During the time of the Roman Empire there were not only foreign wars, civil wars, street fights, fires and revolts there were also natural disasters such as plagues, famines and earthquakes. As in all periods and societies the people looked for someone to blame and different religions to turn to. The development and controversy that Christianity also brought to the Roman people and divided them. Life and the future seemed hopeless for the millions of people who were ruled by Rome where an early death was almost inevitable. Christianity taught the belief in an afterlife which gave hope and courage to the desperate. Eventually the Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great, proclaimed himself a Christian and issued an edict promising the Christians his favor and protection. Attitudes in the Roman Empire changed from being antagonistic to becoming pacifistic. A combination of these factors, as well as several other events and circumstances, led to the downfall of the Roman Empire.


  • (2008).Causes for the fall of the Roman Empire. Retreived from:

  • Rempel, G., (n.d.). Why Rome fell. Retrieved from:

  • Smitha, F., (2009). Christian emperors fail at empire, to 378 CE. Retreived from:


National Council of Social Studies Standards

(d) Practice forms of civic discussion and participation consistent with the ideals of citizens in a

democratic republic

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