Last Updated on September 30, 2023 by TrayKay
When navigating through history topics with my kids, timelines and maps were, of course, standard go-to activities. They provided a visual roadmap to help us connect events, and understand the context of what we were studying. But l also liked to add variety by throwing in other types of projects that not only looked good in the learning portfolio, but could also double as assessments, replacing traditional quizzes and tests. Projects may not be as easy to “grade” (if you use grades) because there’s really no one right answer. But they enabled the kids to creatively showcase their understanding of topics in ways that went beyond rote memorization of facts and dates.
Fortunately, there are a lot of “creatives” out there who have come up with cool activity and project ideas to supplement any world history lessons. Here are some that focus on ancient civilizations in particular, along with free resources to help kickstart the history escapades.
Artifact Investigation: If you’re studying how we know what we know about ancient civilizations, Archaeology for Kids has a good overview of what archaeologists do and the tools they use. There are also hands-on activities, like making your own time capsule, and examining an artifact by filling out a field journal.
Here are some more free resources for studying artifacts:
The following is a sampling of hands-on activities for creating models of ancient technology and objects to learn about different aspects of ancient life. (These and other activities are included in these unit studies on Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and Ancient Rome).
Exploring Ancient Art and Architecture: Create art projects inspired by ancient masterpieces. The Artyfactory site, for example, provides instructions for making creating an Ancient Egyptian portrait and other sketching exercises based on Egyptian crowns, gods, hieroglyphs and cartouches.
Here’s a tutorial for drawing a terracotta warrior, and coloring page.
Use Google Arts and Culture to take virtual tours of famous ancient sites and structures like the Pyramids of Giza, the Colosseum in Rome, and the Taj Mahal. Create models or dioramas of structures using a variety of materials such as wood, clay, cardboard, styrofoam, food, etc. Use this worksheet to note important information about the site or landmark to create an oral report, or slideshow presentation.
A series of activities on pyramid building includes making a pyramid model, doing associated math, and exploring how simple machines were used by the ancients.
Cooking Up History
Incorporating historical recipes into homeschooling lessons can be an interesting way to connect with the past. Food acts as a window into culture and history, providing insights into ancient cultures’ traditions, trade routes, and agriculture.
Start by checking out this food timeline that references some of the oldest recipes from Mesopotamia, and common foods in the ancients’ diets. Try your hand at making some palace cakes from Ur, or Egyptian flat bread.
You can read about Ancient Egyptian food, beverages, and agriculture in this tutorial.
For Ancient Greece, you’ll find recipes for Spanikopita, Avgolemono Soup, and Baklava here.
Or try out these recipes from Ancient Recipes with Sohla:
One way to get some writing in, without it being a traditional report, is a journaling activity. Research the culture and customs of an ancient civilization and create a character from the time period. Write diary entries of events that took place, giving descriptions from the character’s point of view.
Here are some ideas for kids to write from the perspective of:
- a doctor in ancient Egypt
- the Pharaoh’s vizier
- a citizen of Sparta or Athens
- a soldier who fought in one of the Punic Wars
- a sea captain
- a Roman citizen from different classes
At the free site inklewriter, kids can write choose your own adventure stories with branching paths and multiple endings. Parents can also create stories with it to review facts about an ancient civilization in a fun way.
Time-Traveling Journalists: Report on significant events from ancient times by producing news articles or newscasts. Here are some ideas:
Act out events in ancient characters’ lives, whether it’s a historically significant occurrence, or just an average day. Here’s a sampling of some plays that can be done with kids at a co-op or other group setting, (or maybe you have a big family):
What are some free sites and activities for ancient civilizations and world history you like to use with your family? Leave a comment.