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Year 5 Topic: Ancient Greece to Democracy Today

Coming soon...

Introducing Ancient Greece!

We are going back in time thousands of years for our next topic, as we find out about life in ancient Greece... and begin to find out some of the origins of an idea - democracy - that is still part of our lives in the UK today!

Who were the ancient Greeks?

Find out more about where when and how the ancient Greeks lived. As you watch the videos, follow the powerpoints and read the information books, think about these questions: How were their lives similar and different to our lives today? What did the Romans have in common with the ancient Greeks? What did they learn from them?

Introduction Video: Who were the ancient Greeks?

Who were the ancient Greeks? - BBC Bitesize

Powerpoint: Introducing the ancient Greeks!


Short information book: Ancient Greeks (Usborne Beginners)


In-depth Information Book: Visitors' Guide to Ancient Greece (Usborne)



A tour of ancient Greece!

Follow the Wonders of Ancient Greece powerpoint and take the Ancient Greece Google Earth tour to travel the ancient world and discover some of the many famous places from history (and legend) in ancient Greece! Which of them do you think have archaeological evidence to prove that they existed?

Send a postcard from ancient Greece!

Use a piece of paper, card or our template to create some postcards: with a picture of an ancient Greek place on one side, and a description from you of what it was like! Send them to us at school, or upload them to us if you can!

Walk around places in ancient Greece on your computer!

The computer game 'Assassin's Creed: Odyssey' has a special Discovery Mode whereby you can switch off the combat to allow you to simple ride and walk about to all the places in its version of ancient Greece. It will give some fascinating information as you do so! Sadly, the game is expensive and the Adventure Mode (actual game) game-play itself is not suitable for a younger age range. I have included links to some videos here about places in ancient Greece at different eras of its history: from the early civilisation of Crete (the legendary kingdom of King Minos) and the Mycenaen civilisation of the early Greek city-states; to a typical home, the temples of the Parthenon, and the sea port of Piraeus in the city-state of Athens around 400 BC, and the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.

Ruins of Knossos


A Mycenaean Citadel


An Athenian house


The port of Piraeus


The Parthenon


The Temple at Delphi

Make a map of ancient Greece!

Using the map templates that we have put into the links below, mark on the locations of the famous places in ancient Greece that you have explored in the powerpoint, the Google Earth tour, maps and information books. Can you use Google Earth and your own research to discover and locate any other ancient sites of interest? Make a key (a list of the feature symbols for cities, mountains, rivers etc) for your map. Ancient maps often have wonderful drawings of the features, and of mythical creatures that they believed lived nearby. You can make your map look ancient using the tea-staining method: get an adult to supervise as this involves boiling water.

Blank Map Template 1


Blank Map Template 2


Ancient Greek City-states (polis) map


Wars between the Greeks and Persian Empire


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Wars between the Greek city-states of Athens and Sparta (the Peloponnesian Wars)

A timeline of ancient Greece!

The Greek word chronos means time, from which we get the word chronology - the study of time. Follow the Timeline of Ancient Greece powerpoint, and then use the timeline event cards to create your own, or use this template to get you started! Use the Ancient Greek Timeline Home Learning sheet to pick one event and research it for yourself.

A fantastic way to visualise the passage of time and the relative distance between historical events is the Toilet Roll of Time! If your emergency supplies are still full, and you have enough space to do it, roll out toilet paper, imagining that each sheet is 100 years (a century) and each 10 sheets is 1000 years (a millennium). Write the date with a felt-tip pen on them, and place timeline cards or write down events. How long ago from the present day did some of the famous events in Greek history occur? A question to ponder about Cleopatra, the Greek woman who became the last Pharaoh of Egypt and died in 30 BC: did she live closer to our time, or to the time when the Great Pyramid of Giza was built around 3600 BC?

It's All Greek to Me!

Can you speak ancient Greek? Would you be surprised if I said that you already do, every day? Many ancient Greek words have become part of the English language (some brought by the Romans when they made Britannia part of the Roman Empire). Scientists also often use ancient Greek word stems to create new words for new ideas and technology! That is an ancient Greek word itself: teckne = 'art & craft' + logia = 'word or oracle, or study of'! Use this Ancient Greek Word Maker to see how many words you can make and to find out what they really mean in ancient Greek!

What were the beliefs of the ancient Greeks?

Ancient people often told stories, which we call myths and legends, to explain their world. Find out more about the gods and goddesses that were worshipped by many Greeks, what the Greeks believed and how they worshipped.

We will be reading many ancient Greek myths and legends during the next few weeks (see the Reading Section for lots of examples of myths and legends). This will tell you a lot about how some ancient Greeks thought. Watch the video below, and find out more about ancient Greek myths and their religion in the very first book that I ever read about ancient Greece: The Usborne Illustrated Guide to Greek Myths & Legends!

We shall also begin to see, as we learn about ancient Greek science and philosophy, how some Greeks began to question their myths and investigate the world around them in new ways.


Who were the gods and goddess that some ancient Greeks believed in?

Who were the ancient Greek gods and heroes? - BBC Bitesize

The Usborne Illustrated Guide to Greek Myths & Legends!

Questions for the Oracle of Delphi! Or, become the Oracle by finding out about ancient Greece!

Ancient Greeks often went to the Temple of the god Apollo at Delphi, to ask a question of the Oracle - a priestess who was said to have the power of knowledge and wisdom. Write your own scroll with questions about ancient Greece, and send them to us! Will the Oracle be able to answer? Also, can YOU be the Oracle? Use the Ancient Greece Factfile template to record amazing facts about life in ancient Greece to reveal to us all!

Ask The Oracle of Delphi! Scroll Template


What Can I find out About Ancient Greece Factfile Template


Visit the Parthenon and the Oracle in ancient Greece on your computer!

The computer game 'Assassin's Creed: Odyssey' has a special Discovery Mode whereby you can switch off the combat to allow you to simple ride and walk about to all the places in its version of ancient Greece. It will give some fascinating information as you do so! Sadly, the game is expensive and the Adventure Mode (actual game) game-play itself may not be suitable for a younger age range. I have included links to a couple of videos here about the religion of the ancient Greeks. One video is exploring the Parthenon, the collection of temples on top of the Acropolis in the city of Athens, including the temple and statue of their patron goddess Athene! The other video takes you to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, to meet the oracle herself!

Visit the Parthenon in Athens!


Visit the Oracle of Delphi!

Make a model of a Greek temple!

Find out what went on outside and inside an ancient Greek temple. Make a model of it using recycling material or perhaps Lego bricks! Toilet rolls make great Greek columns! Or make one in Minecraft!

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Athens and Sparta

We have explored some of the places of ancient Greece and learnt a little about the major events of that civilisation's history. Next, we are going to look a little more closely at two of the most well-known city-states (polis) of ancient Greece: Athens and Sparta.

By doing so, we will find out more about what it would have been like to live in ancient Greece. We will also get to see that life was not exactly the same in every city. We will also discover that life could be different according to how rich you were, whether you were a citizen or a slave, or whether you were a man or a woman.

Then, make notes, form conclusions, and try to write a persuasive speech about them.

Compare Athens and Sparta!

Once you have investigated both places, try to compare life in Athens with life in Sparta. Try using this tablechart template, or draw a Venn diagram, like the one suggested in our Introduction to Athens and Sparta powerpoint.

Amazing Athens!

Below the hill known as the Akropolis lies the city of Athens and its port Piraeus. Join some characters below as they explore some of the aspects of life as an Athenian: their theatre and drama, philosophy, their home life, and their way of running their city by discussion and voting called democracy (we will learn more about this in another week). Also, find out about life for women in ancient Greek cities that were influenced by Athenian ideas (for this one, we visit the city-state of Corinth briefly). You can research more about life in Athens throughout the Usborne Visitor's Guide to Ancient Greece, which has lots of fascinating details about life in that city.


Life for an Athenian citizen


A rich Athenian citizen's home


The Agora Market: Trade in Athens


Women in ancient Greece


Democracy in Athens!


Piraeus: Athens and the sea!

This Is Sparta!

Then, travel south to the hilly region of Lakedaímōn in the Peloponnesian peninsular, where you will find the city-state of Sparta. The Spartans were well known for their warriors and had a fearsome reputation in battle. Learn about: their society, how they made decisions, and how Spartan children were educated: the agoge! You can research more about life in Sparta in the Usborne Visitor's Guide to Ancient Greece on pages 84-6.

Spartan Warriors!


Spartan Society


Spartan Politics


Spartan Education


Spartan High School Musical!



Learn a Spartan secret code!

Spartan generals used a simple but effective way to encode and decode their orders, so that the Athenians and their other enemies could not read them. Here is how to do it:

  1. Find two tubes or cylinders of identical width: for example, two kitchen roll tubes or two rolling pins.
  2. Cut a long thin strip of paper out with scissors.
  3. Wind the paper carefully around one of the tubes like a snake.
  4. Write your message across the paper while it is wound around the tube.
  5. Now, unwind the paper, and fill the rest of it with random letters.
  6. Give the paper to someone else who has an identical tube or cylinder.
  7. They must wind the paper in the same way that you did onto their cylinder.
  8. The letters of your message should match up as they did when you wrote it, and they will read your message!
  9. If someone with a different width of tube tries to wind the paper, the letters will not match up and they will not find it!

Write a speech: which city-state is the best?

Here is a clip from some ancient Greek TV show (did they have TV in those times?) where two ancient Greek families - one from Athens and one from Sparta - swap lives for a week. I wonder what they think about each other's way of living? Whose will they think is the best?

At this time of year, we usually make use of our historical research and exercise our literacy skills with some persuasive writing. The ancient Greeks loved to make speeches and debate things. Let’s imagine you and your family are ancient Greeks trying to decide which is the best city-state: Sparta or Athens? Do some research, make notes, form your arguments and get evidence to support them, and write a persuasive speech to convince other ancient Greeks! Your opinion may depend upon who you are in real life, or upon looking at the question from different points of view!

To help you, we have created some Statements about Athens and Sparta to think about. We have also made some Debate Opinion Cards which might help you think of your points of view. We have also made a Debate Language Prompt, with ideas for sentence starters and ways to start your arguments (by argument, we mean sharing your ideas, not shouting, of course!).

Here is an example of a speech we wrote last year to argue that Sparta was a great city! Do you agree or disagree? What would your reply be?


Who governed and made decisions in ancient Greek city-states?

Today, the form of government that we use in the United Kingdom and in many other countries is called democracy. Where did this system of making decisions come from? To learn more about the origins of democracy, we must return to the city-state of Athens in the 5th Century BC, where it was first thought of and practised.

Meanwhile, other cities like Sparta were ruled in rather different ways. We'll find out about the way Greek city-states were governed: the systems of tyranny, oligarchy and democracy. Find out who was in charge. Discover who made the decisions and who didn't have a say! What were the positive and negative features of each way of decision-making?

How did Athenian democracy work?

We'll explore Athenian democracy in more detail, to discover who could take part, how issues were discussed and voted upon. The power-point we have made contains a variety of topics which the ancient Athenian citizens would have discussed and voted upon. What would you do? Which of the famous Athenian citizens do you think you would be most like?

Athenian Democracy Powerpoint


A day in the life of an Athenian family

Discovery Tour: Athenian democracy

More about how Athenian democracy worked

How was it different to how we vote to decide things

in the UK today?

Form an Athenian assembly!

You can also try setting up an Athenian decision-making assembly, the ecclesiaat home with your family - or with your friends and family on a video call (this is remarkably similar to an Athenian meeting!) Why not choose one of the modern-day topics in our powerpoint and have a debate with Athenian rules: anyone can speak... except for who? Will you agree to follow these instructions from the past, or choose to change them? How will you decide?

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Give a persuasive speech!

The ancient Greeks loved speeches and debates. Their word for speaking was 'rhetoric', and a speaker was called a rhetor. They were experts at making logical arguments using evidence to support their ideas. This is a great opportunity to try out writing a persuasive speech: perhaps on whether Athens or Sparta was the best city-state! Or maybe you think the Roman Empire was better... or none of them?

Or, is there something that you are really interested in? Have a discussion about it: try making notes of 5 things that you want to say before you begin.

What did the Ancient Greeks know about Fake News?

Today, in our time, we can often find what we call 'fake news' on social media and the internet: where people make up information that isn't true but pretend it is; or make fun of others or say that they are wrong or bad without proofSadly, human beings are very easy to fool with these tricks, even today with our education and technology - perhaps even easier to fool! Find out about all of these tricks, so that you can be prepared if someone tries to trick you one day... and to check that you are not using them to get your own way too!

It might surprise you to know that many of these 'rhetorical tricks' are not new, but very old indeed! The ancient Greeks were aware of many ways in which speakers might try to persuade others to agree with them, not by using logic and facts, but by using tricks or even bullying tactics. They made names for many of the ways in which speakers try to fool others into agreeing with them without actually being fair or having the proper evidence to support their opinions.

The famous Athenian philosopher (thinker and teacher) called Socrates tried to warn the Athenians about some of the problems that might happen in their system of democracy. In the end, the Athenians showed him first-hand exactly what might go wrong if citizens did not tell the truth and give honest speeches, at the famous Trial of Socrates!

Honest & Dishonest Rhetoric Powerpoint


Ancient Greek Survivors' Guide to Rhetorical Tricks and Fake News!


Spot and sort the honest from the dishonest speeches!


FLICC: 5 Modern Tricks of Fake News diagram


FLICC: 5 Modern Tricks of Fake News Explanation Poster


Socrates' warnings about the flaws of Athenian democracy...


...and what happened to him for saying it!

The Knowledge of Ancient Greece!

As well as having new ideas about how to make decisions and enjoying the study of rhetoric (public speaking), the ancient Greeks made many exciting discoveries in mathematics, science, medicine and engineering. These all came down to the other thing ancient Greeks enjoyed: philosophy, 'the love of wisdom'. Many of the ideas that the ancient Greeks discussed or thought of are still important ideas in our modern world!

There were no schools as such for ancient Greeks to attend. Instead, in many Greek city-states, thinkers and teachers ('sophistes') would meet students in the open air and talk. They might learn about science, mathematics, art, music, the natural world around them or just questions about life. They would also be taught how to speak and make arguments. Of course, many sophistes would ask students to pay them for their lessons. Also, in places like Athens, only boys and men could even go outside to be taught. On the other hand, in Sparta, education was for all, paid for by the city... and didn't involve so much talking!

I know nothing! Teach me!

ConvertinAmongst all of the philosophers of ancient Greece, one stand out above them all. His name was Sokrates, and he was an Athenian. He refused to be paid, and would talk with rich or poor Athenians alike. In fact, he didn't even call himself a teacher. His most famous way to starting a conversation is often simplified to the heading above: 'I know nothing: teach me.' He would get his students to explain their ideas to him, and keep asking them questions when they were not clear or could explain things in more detail. That way, they would finally know the idea really well!

I am a fool!

This way of learning was all based on an idea Sokrates had after speaking to lots of people in Athens who were experts in different jobs. He found that, while they all knew a lot about their own job, they often thought this made them clever in everything and claimed to know more about other things than they really did. Sokrates is said to have told his pupil Plato:

"I am a fool, but in one way I am wise, in that at least I know that I am a fool and don't know everything.

Therefore, I am wiser than the person who thinks they know something they do not know, whereas I know that I do not know."

In simpler terms, Sokrates idea was:

I know enough to know that I don't know enough!

Sounds wise to me! But what do I know? Can you explain it to me?




Discovery Tour: How ancient Greeks learnt


(in cities like Athens)

The Lessons of Sokrates


Famous thoughts of Sokrates


Sokrates' pupil: Plato


Plato's pupil: Aristotle


Eureka means 'I have found it', and it is said that this is what the famous Greek inventor, Archimedes, shouted one day when he had an idea while sitting in his bath... There were many other amazing inventors, mathematicians and doctors in ancient Greece. They shared and built on ideas from all over the ancient world, such as Babylon, Egypt, Persia, the Indus Valley of the Indian subcontinent, and even ancient China (the stick or 'gnomon' on a sundial came from there to ancient Greece) added their own ideas, and passed them on to the Romans and Arabs, from whom the ideas were developed further to later inspire scientists in more recent times.










The Greek Legacy: How the Ancient Greeks shaped modern mathematics

How The Ancient Greeks Proved Earth Wasn't Flat 2,200 Years Ago

Pythagorus and his Theorem about the sides of Triangles


Learn how to prove it is true, and amaze Mr Knight and Ms Lynn!

Eureka! How taking a bath gave Archimedes an idea!

Eureka! Another version of how taking a bath gave Archimedes an idea!

How to Make an Archimedes Screw


Science Simple Machines & forces

Hippocrates: Ancient Greek Doctor

Herodotus: Ancient Greek Historian

Horrible Histories: We are Greeks Song!


A (mostly true) list of many things that the ancient Greeks invented or developed!

Top 20 Inventions from Ancient Greece!


Another (mostly accurate) list!

Democracy in the UK


Each year, we look at how the idea of democracy that began in ancient Athens works in the United Kingdom today. This helps us to understand our fundamental British values as part of our education about British citizenship. Find out about our system of government. Learn what Parliament is and what it does, and why this is different to the Government. Learn what your rights are in our British democracy.

Each year, we also investigate some of the ways in which British democracy has had to change - or still needs to change - in order to fulfil those fundamental British values which we teach: learning about Apartheid in South Africa; the struggle of the Suffragettes and Suffragists to get the UK to allow women the right to vote and other equal rights; the way in which refugees are treated differently by the Government and people of the United Kingdom. This year, we will be looking at how British democracy treats Black Britons, and the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement.

A fundamental value of British citizenship is participation in public and political life, as ancient Athenians once believed, so this topic encourages discussion and for your child to form and express their opinions.

Democracy in the UK

How do people in the UK help make decisions about how the country should be run? It is quite different to the way the ancient Athenians used to organise their democratic decision-making! How do people vote? Who is allowed to vote? What do people vote for?

How Does the UK's System Work?

What do all the different parts of the UK's democratic system do? What is the role of Parliament in making our laws, and what is the role of the Government in running the country? Why is there a House of Commons and a House of Lords in Parliament? What is the role of the Queen? Has this changed over history? What does our local council do? 

What are our Democratic Rights?

Rights are things that you are free to do, and nobody is supposed to be allowed to take these rights away. This is also true of British democracy, and our rights represent fundamental British values that all children are required to learn about.

Who represents you in our democracy?

Who are our MPs? What are their views and opinions? What kinds of things do they do to help our community and the country?

If YOU were Prime Minister...

What would YOU do if the people gave you the power, and you were chosen to be the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom?

If I was Prime Minister...

Democracy in the UK Powerpoint

Video: How do elections work?

Video: Elections and voting

Video: Why should we vote?

Video: What happens on election day?


How Does the UK system work?

Video: What is the House of Commons?

Video: What is the House of Lords?

Video: How does Parliament work?

Video: How are laws made?

Game: Be an MP for a Week!


The European Convention on Human Rights

Written by British lawyers, supported by Winston Churchill and signed by the UK in 1951.


Draw up your own Bill of Rights

What do you think are the rights that people should have? Use this template to help.

Find out about your local Member of Parliament:

Caroline Lucas MP (Brighton Pavilion constituency)

Lloyd Russell Moyle MP (Brighton Kemptown constituency)

Peter Kyle MP (Hove Constituency)

Maria Caulfield MP (Lewes Constituency)


 Write a Manifesto for your own political party!

Make a persuasive manifesto leaflet that tells people what your political party believes in, a cool name, a catchy slogan, and three promises you would make so that people will want to vote for you!

Write Your Own Party Manifesto!

Promote your Election Campaign!

Design an election Poster, badges, maybe even make a video advert!

Election Poster Templates

Hold your Own Election!

Set up a polling station (the place where people go to vote) and see who wins the most votes!

Polling Station resources

Ballot Papers