Ancient Rome for Teachers
Activities and Projects
These are activity and project ideas for kids and teachers to use in your unit study of ancient Rome. These activities can be adjusted for any grade. We hope you'll find some ideas you can use.
Rome as a Republic (SPQR): Can you save the Roman Republic? (Roman Reforms)
Roman Senate: Roman Senate Simulation
Struggle for Power under the Republic: Patricians vs. Plebeians, classroom simulation, Experiencing a Struggle for Power
Roman Law under the Republic: Why should laws apply equally and be public? (lesson plans, classroom activities)
Julius Caesar: Gossip at the Forum (classroom play, 1-2 class periods) See Pantomime/Theatre for how to behave at the theatre in ancient Rome
History Mystery: Caesar - Students investigate the assassination of Julius Caesar by weighing 8 different pieces of evidence. Visually stimulating, highly engaging and perfect for Common Core.
Digging for the Truth: Pompeii - An inquiry-based introduction to Rome where students examine a series of artifacts buried in the ruins of Pompeii to make predictions about what the Roman Empire was like.
Rome Dossiers - A collaborative investigation into the question of who was responsible for the death of Jesus. Students analyze information sheets for each of the three main players in the Crucifixion and debate who was most responsible.
Roman Legionary - Drill! You might want them to learn about the Roman Legion before this activity here. Move into Groups: Make Shields and Daggers out of cardboard and construction paper - one shield, one dagger for each students, groups help each other and have a similarity in equipment, just as the ancient Romans would have. Then: March around the school in Turtle Formation. Sneak by open doors of other classrooms in groups of "turtles". (Get permission from the office first, of course.) The kids love this one.
Equip a Roman Soldier Simulation - Class Activity
Weigh the Evidence: Rome - In this lab built for The Common Core students examine a series of sources to determine if Rome left the world with a positive legacy. This lab focuses on the skill of source reliability by asking students to rate how believable and useful each source is before making their final conclusions.
The Roman Gazetteer. This is certainly not a new idea, but it's always fun. Have your kids create a newspaper for ancient Rome. Put all the pieces together and print copies so that each student has one completed copy. It's great review or introduction to ancient Rome, and a nice piece for students to take home and share with parents. Editorials, Classified, Sports & Entertainment, etc.
Take several 8½″ × 11″ pieces of paper, and plan how much room each section of your newspaper will take. (Space is limited!) Hand each student, based on the section they select, a pre-cut piece of paper. As reporters, they must accomplish their job within assigned space limits. This makes putting your newspaper together much easier! For unassigned space, or space left empty from students who do not complete this assignment, simply run an ad - this space available for advertising. Call.... And/or offer empty space as an extra credit project to interested students. As students tend to lose things, and need several copies of blank pieces of paper, have extras blanks available, based on sizing. To stay organized, number the back of various sizes with Roman Numerals. That way, you can have a blank paper stack for each size.
Under each heading, include a short paragraph of background information.
Make a sign-up sheet, that covers all newspaper headings, and post it in your classroom. Have the kids sign-up as reporters under the section they choose. For organizational purposes, note the Roman Numeral "size" next to each section. For example, the cartoon section might be called: Forum Funnies. Example: Consul Claudius sneezed today. At least he accomplished SOMETHING! The gossip section might be called "Rome Wonders"; example: New man about town! Gladiator Claudius gains freedom today! Will he replace Nero as ladies man #1? Keep your eye on this column for updates!
Information about ancient Roman daily life can be found here.
Milestone Advertising: Hand your kids the following Assignment: The Romans did a wonderful job building roads! To help people find their way, while traveling these roads, the Romans more or less invented the milestone which grew increasingly wordy, and increasingly tall, to be easily readable from a vehicle. Some are 6 feet tall. Each milestone usually gave the mileage to the nearest large city, sometimes to an intermediate place as well; and the date and perhaps who paid for the road. We're going to add business advertising! Your job is to create a business ad to add to a milestone, somewhat like billboard advertising. What would you say, to advertise your company's service or product, if you had limited advertising space on one of these ancient Roman milestones? To accomplish your job, first you must create a service or product of interest for ancient Rome, and then create an ad to advertise it. From your ad, it should be easy to figure out what service or product your company offers citizens of Rome. Remember, your ad must be very brief and to the point as you only have limited space!
Roman Emperors: Which emperor would you choose to be your leader?
Rome Culture Shock (Part 1: Opera, Part 2: Barbarian Ordeals, Part 3: Barbarian Ordeals Quiz)>The idea behind the Culture Shock labs is to give students a taste of the culture of the civilization. This is done through a series of mini-labs sometimes in groups. This particular one works best as a whole class activity. The first lab gives students a taste of opera (though I am well aware this came around long after the Roman Empire) and Latin. Upon entry I have some stereotypical opera playing and students respond to whether they like it or not. I then play O Fortuna from Carmina Burana (which is a much more interesting opera piece) and have them complete the worksheet. In the second lab students read a short passage about barbarian laws and then take a 10 question "quiz" on the material. To determine the answers to the questions students volunteer to complete "ordeals" in the classroom such as balancing a book on their head or doing pushups. If they succeed, whatever answer that student put is correct (even if everyone else knows it is wrong!) If they fail, whatever they put is wrong.
The Ancients Walk Amongst Us: Bring in newspapers, magazines, and old phone books. Have scissors and glue handy. Working in groups, have the kids find examples of Roman Gods and Roman Times in advertising and news articles. For example: The Venus Beauty Salon, The Mercury Cafe. Have the kids cut out the examples they find. Have each group arrange their "finds" on a large piece of construction paper or cardboard, and then post on a bulletin board or a wall.
Online Game Day: Ancient Rome - Games and Interactive Learning Sites for Kids - I set this activity to work by creating a scavenger hunt sheet of things for kids to find in the sites listed on their exploration sheet. The kids have to site the source for each scavenger find for verification.
Choose Your Own Adventure from over 70 different classroom activities and possible assignments
Roman Adventure - A Choose-your-own-Adventure style game for the whole class to review the Roman Empire. My students absolutely love this one (even if I'm honestly not sure why.) Works best if you have some sort of point system for classroom management and rewards.
Online Quiz: Interactive Quiz Questions with Answers about Ancient Rome for Kids and Teachers
See Also: Lesson Plans for Ancient Rome - several have a lesson with activity