Monsters, & Heroes
5 basic forms of Greek storytelling that are still alive and well
today. You can we will write and/or perform your own versions of
these storytelling forms. On this page we place special emphasis on the
myth, the fable, illustrations on pottery, and an epic-like adventure tale.
will find an explanation of each form:
Fables are still being told and retold -- in their original form and
in slightly different form. People will change the characters a bit,
or change the setting in which the story takes place, or maybe even
update the problems that get resolved -- but the underlying tale, the
meaning and the lesson remain the same.
& The Grasshopper is
of a fable that is still very
works hard storing away food for winter while the grasshopper just
goofs off. The ant advises the grasshopper to follow his example and
store up some food, but the grasshopper just laughs him off, making
fun of him instead. Finally, the winter does come and the grasshopper
finds himself cold and hungry. Some versions of this story have happy
endings while some have very sad endings. The moral, or lesson, of
the story is that it is wise to prepare for hard times ahead. (Note:
fables always have a lesson or moral to them.)
characters (i.e. very stereo-typed or two dimensional)
animal characters (with human feelings/motives)
beginning of the fable shows the setting and the situation in which
the characters find themselves.
The middle of the fable explains what the problem is and how characters
attempt to solve the problem.
The end of the fable shows the moral or lesson to be learned from the story. (Lynn
focus of a fable is to teach a lesson. Therefore everything in the
story must be kept simple, so as not to distract the reader from
getting the point!
several fables to see how it is done. Then try your own hand at writing
a fable. You might begin with rewriting one of Aesop's fables in
your own words. You could update your story -- by putting the
characters in a place or situation that is similar to Aesop's, but
more modern -- or change the way they talk. You could even have your
moral be delivered rap style!
class we wrote our own original fables. Maybe you have one inside
of you! Think about what moral or life lesson you would like
to share with others. Then make up a story around it. Plug in some
animal characters, slap on your lesson or moral saying, and -- voila!
You've written your own fable!
mythology isn't just something kids are made to read about in school
-- it's the stuff of great movies, such as Disney's Hercules and great
fiction such as Rick Riordan's
Percy Jackson novels. You learn more about those stories on your own, so I won't retell
myths tell the stories of Greek gods, goddesses, and heroes (usually
always the child of a god and a mortal human). They
also can tell the stories of the beginnings of things
-- how Life began, where did we all come from -- that sort of thing.
The myths often involve magical creatures such as Pegasus, the
Titans, or various nymphs and satyrs.
Greek Links page (or your library) to read some of the Greek myths.
Then have some fun making up a myth of your own. Your myth can be set
in ancient Greece or in the present -- in your own house. A good myth
in your own house might be "The Origin of Morning Coffee".
You could tell a funny story about what life was like before your
parents had morning coffee and how coffee pots came to exist. Or,
make up a funny explanation of what the "Ritual of The
Coffee" is "really" all about. (Is it an offering to
appease the angry gods of sleep or traffic?)
there are myths from many other cultures, including: ancient China,
Persia, India, the Native American cultures, as well as from various
African nations -- including Egypt. So... check 'em out!
class we will be creating our own Mythological Zoo, with pop-up
illustrations and mythological descriptions of the origins and
abilities of our strange creations.)
Want to read some Greek Mythology adapted for kids? Browse
Greek Links or
try one of the books below.
to Greek Links
fable is short and to the point, the epic is typically very long and
very elaborate. The modern equivalent of the epic would probably be
the TV mini-series! Like Aesop's fables, the great Epics ― like
The Iliad and The Odyssey ― also get redone every now and again.
The Odyssey is especially popular. Even PBS's TV show Arthur did
it's own version, with D.W. in the role of the hero Odysseus. Did you
know that William Shakespeare did his own version of The Iliad?
you think Shakespeare is ancient history, consider that Homer -- the
author of the Iliad --lived an even
time ago, about 2,500 years ago!)
are long adventure stories that were originally written in the form
of poetry. (While there are other types of Greek poetry, I don't
focus on it here.)
Tales from the Odyssey by popular Magic Tree
House author Mary Pope Osborne.
Giants and Cannibals! Wonders and Witches! One Amazing Hero.
Brave Odysseus is far from home, tossed by stormy seas, and
cursed by an angry one-eyed giant. If he ever wants to see his
family again, he will have to face hungry cannibals, outwit a
beautiful witch, and sail past a six-headed serpent. His journey
is the ultimate test of endurance and courage. In this exciting
series, best-selling author Mary Pope Osborne retells Homerï¿½s
Odyssey, one of the most thrilling adventure stories of all
time. For ages 8 and up.
Tales of the Greek Heroes by Roger
While by no means the most scholarly collection of Greek myths and legends, Roger Lancelyn Green's retellings are among the most accessible, particularly to younger
readers, while retaining the poetic quality of the ancient texts. TALES OF THE GREEK HEROES recounts the origins of the Greek pantheon, the adventures of Perseus, the seven labors of Heracles, and the voyage of Jason and the Argonauts.
For ages 10 and up.
to Greek Links
not think of any ancient Greek plays
seen recently, but their legacy does still live on. First of all,
own modern theater owes much to the ancient Greeks. Just
think about the way you sit when you go to a play (or even a the
movies, or a hockey game) -- you usually sit in seats, arranged in
rows, which rise up higher toward the rear of the theater.
Here is a
picture of the theater in Dodona Greece. Does it remind you of a
modern stadium? The seating was designed this way so that everyone
could see the action down on the stage below, and so that the sound
of the actors would be contained in the theater arena and travel
upward toward the audience. No microphones or P.A. systems in those
days -- you just had to belt out your lines, good and loud!
But it is
not just the earlier technical aspects of Greek theater that live on
today. Many of the ancient Greek plays were so popular, spoke so
strongly to basic human emotions and problems, that they are still
around today. Although, like Aesop's fables, some of the details have
been changed. (Example.)
plays about the Greek gods and about honoring and giving thanks to
them were a major part of the the Greek plays, especially in the
early days of theater.
the chief characteristics of the Greek plays was the
"chorus". This was a group of men who would sing a
narrative about the story. The earliest plays in Greek history had only
a chorus. Later on, an actor was added who would speak his lines to
the chorus. Even later in history, the format had become more
complex, with many actors on stages, interacting with each other,
acting out the story in the way that we are familiar with today in our
important feature of the ancient Greek plays were the masks worn by
the performers. If you would like to act out a fable or myth that you
have written, take a piece of cardboard and trace the face or head of
your character onto it. Then cut it out and paint it (or cover it
with white paper and simply decorate with markers or crayons). Be
sure to create an expression on your mask that shows your characters
feelings. The ancient Greeks had sad faces for plays with sad endings
and events (called a "tragedy") or happy faces for plays
with positive outcomes (a "comedy").
Greek Myth Plays by Carol Pugliano-Martin.
Help students build fluency and gain confidence as readers with the timeless tales of King Midas, Daedalus and Icarus, Echo and Narcissus, and more. This collection of short scripts features parts that are written to accommodate readers at different proficiency levels-so everyone can participate. Includes tips for putting on the plays and related activities.
Marketed for use with Grades 3-5, but used good for middle
to Greek Links
whose ever picked up a picture book knows that a story can be told
without any words at all.
So it is
here, with the story on the Grecian vase. This vase tells a story
all the action going on in this picture.
Try drawing your own pictures. You can
draw pictures that illustrate a story you've already thought up,
or... you can let the process of drawing help you imagine the story
you want to tell.
for our links to Ancient
Greek myths, fables, and epic hero tales, as well as maps, photos,
and illustrations of ancient Greece.
Looking for a fun and effective way to learn more about Greek
Mythology? Try the Percy Jackson series by New York Times
#1 best-selling author Rick Riordan.
Funny, fast paced, and filled with quirky characters and wild
action that kids love, they're a great way to bring the
qualities and characters of the Greek pantheon to life!
Send us some email!
E.K. KIDS CLUB
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ANCIENT GREEK STORYTELLING
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