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Topic - Geography and History



This term our topic is Ancient Greece.  This week in Geography, we will start by finding out about the landscape and climate of Greece and how that influenced the development of Ancient Greece. 


Activity 1- The Geography of Greece

Choose one of the following:


Make a poster on a piece of A4 paper, advertising Greece as a holiday destination. Include information on the climate, weather, the landscape and what there is to see and do. 

Remember to make it eye catching and colourful!


Make a travel guide about Greece.

Look at the information below and use it in your travel guide. There is a writing frame and an example attached to help you too (don’t copy it though). 


Do this task after you have looked at the maps and images below which will help you learn more about the geography of Greece.


Have a look at the maps and pictures below. What can you see? What does this tell you about the climate and physical landscape of Greece?


Climate is the average weather conditions over a long period of time.

Weather is a specific event like a rain storm or a hot day that happens over a few hours, days and weeks.

Map of Greece

A physical map of Greece.  Mountains are dark brown.

Now use your computer to find out more about Greece or use the information sheet below.

So, the geography of Greece influenced the way the Ancient Greeks lived.

The Landscape of Greece

PDF document if you want to print it

Now write your travel guide using the writing frame below, or make your poster.

PDF document if you want to print it

Here's one to give you an idea.  

PDF document if you want to print it

Activity 2 - Who Were the Ancient Greeks?

This week, we will be travelling back in time to Ancient Greece. Look at the timeline below to see where it fits in with other periods of history you have learnt about.

Find out about the different periods of Ancient Greek history by reading the information below or you can click on the BBC bitesize information here.

Who were the Ancient Greeks?

About 2,500 years ago, Greece was one of the most important places in the ancient world. The Greeks were great thinkers, warriors, writers, actors, athletes, artists, architects and politicians.

The Greeks called themselves Hellenes and their land was Hellas. The name ‘Greeks’ was given to the people of Greece later by the Romans. They lived in mainland Greece and the Greek islands, but also in colonies scattered around the Mediterranean Sea. There were Greeks in Italy, Sicily, Turkey, North Africa, and as far west as France.

     They sailed the sea to trade and find new lands. The Greeks took their ideas with them and they     started a way of life that's                

     similar to the one we have today.

The early history of ancient Greece

           People have been living in Greece for over 40,000 years. The earliest settlers mostly lived a simple hunter-gatherer or farming lifestyle.

           The Minoans were the first great Greek civilisation. They didn't live on mainland Greece but on the nearby island of Crete, between

            2200BC and 1450BC. They were known as the Minoans after their legendary king, Minos.


After the Minoans came the Mycenaean civilisation, from mainland Greece. They were fine builders and traders, but they were also great soldiers. They famously fought in the battle of Troy. Homer, an important Greek writer, told stories of the Mycenaean age in his books The Iliad and The Odyssey.

After the Mycenaean age ended in about 1100BC, Greece entered a Dark Age. It is known as a dark age because nobody knows much about what happened - all written language and art disappeared

After the Dark Age

In 800BC, almost 300 years after the Dark Age began, Greek civilisation slowly emerged again.

The Greeks started trading more with the outside world, they held the first Olympic Games and they fought off the invading Persian army. This period is known by historians as the Archaic period of Greek history. During this time many of the cities in Greece were ruled by a king-like figure.

Around 480BC Greece entered a golden age which lasted for 200 years. The people built fantastic temples, made scientific discoveries, wrote plays and founded the first proper democracy. Historians call this Classical Greece.

The final period of Greek history is known as the Hellenistic period. This lasted from 323BC to 30BC, when the Romans took control of Greece. The Romans didn't destroy Greek life, though. They respected the Greeks and copied many things about their culture, including their buildings, beliefs and clothes.

Activity: make your own ancient Greek timeline

Now make your own timeline. You will need to draw an arrow like the one below on a piece of A4 paper.  You can also add any information you have found out yourself.  

Next, copy or cut out the images below and put them in order on the timeline.  I have put on the first one.     

PDF document if you want to print the timeline and images out.

How was Greece ruled?

There was never one country called ‘ancient Greece’. Instead, Greece was divided up into small city-states, like Athens, Sparta, Corinth and Olympia.

Each city-state ruled itself. They had their own governments, laws and army. So, ancient Greeks living in Sparta considered themselves Spartan first, and Greek second.

Famously, the city-states didn’t get on very well and often fought each another. However, sometimes they joined together to fight against a bigger enemy, like the Persian Empire.

Only a very powerful ruler could control all Greece. One man did in the 300s BC. He was Alexander the Great, from Macedonia. Alexander led his army to conquer an empire that stretched as far as Afghanistan and India.

Next week we will be finding out about the two most important city states, Athens and Sparta.  They were very different places to live and often fought each other.

Activity 3 – The Ancient Greeks

What were the differences between the city states of Athens and Sparta?

Ancient Greece was not a single country like it is today.  It was made up of different city states that governed themselves.  Athens and Sparta were probably the most famous and powerful city states in Ancient Greece.  However, they were very different.

Read the slides below to find out more!  Try to make notes while you are reading.  Remember to only write down the key words or phrases.

Remember you can pause each slide if you need more time to read it.

You can also watch this clip from Horrible Histories: The Groovy Greeks.  Make notes while you are watching.

Now use the information you have found out about Athens and Sparta  to help you fill in the  chart below.

Copy the one above or print off the PDF version below.

We have learnt that Athens and Sparta were very different places to live in. 

What do you think would be good about living in Athens?   What would be good about living in Sparta?

What would be the disadvantages of living in Athens and the disadvantages of living in Sparta?

Once you've had a think, copy the sheet below.

You can print off the PDF below, if needed.

Activity 4 - Everyday Life in Ancient Greece

Read the information in the slides below to find out about what family life was like in Ancient Greece.  Do you think it was the same for rich and poor people?  Why?

Ancient Greece had a warm, dry climate, as Greece does today. Most people lived by farming, fishing and trade. Others were soldiers, scholars, scientists and artists.

Greek cities had beautiful temples with stone columns and statues, and open-air theatres where people sat to watch plays.

Most people lived in villages or in the countryside. Many Greeks were poor and life was hard, because farmland, water and timber for building were scarce. That's why many Greeks sailed off to find new lands to settle.

The place where everyone in Ancient Athens went to shop, meet and do business was the Agora or market place. Here is a picture of what it might have looked like. What can you see?

The next task will help you to learn more about how artefact can tell us more about what was sold at the Agora.

Look carefully at this pot and the objects below, which were all found in Ancient Athens. What is being sold?  What was the person’s job?  What makes you think that?

Here are some more vases to look at to find out more about what went on at the Agora.

Write down what you think and give reasons for your answers based on what you can see.

Or, print off the PDF of the worksheet below.

Here are the answers!  How did you do?!

1. A cobbler’s or shoe maker’s shop.



2.  A fishmonger’s shop. 

3.  Shaking olives from an olive tree to take to the Agora to sell.


Now read the description below of what an Agora was like.

Imagine the hustle and bustle of the Agora, like one of our street markets in London only ten times busier and noisier.  All sorts of different people went to the Agora, for different reasons.


Read the descriptions below of some of the people who might have gone to the Agora. Now imagine you are one of them.  What can you hear?  What can you see?  What can you smell?  Why are you there?  What have you come to buy?  What have you come to sell?  If you have come from the countryside how might you feel?  Are you excited?  Are you scared? 

When you have chosen who you want to be, copy and fill in the sheet below.  Remember to use as many exciting adjectives as you can.


You can also print off the PDF of the worksheet here,  if needed.

Activity 5

What made the Greeks such good soldiers?

This week, we are going to find out more about Greek soldiers and how they managed to be such effective fighters.

Look at the vase below and then choose the answer that you think best describes the picture. 

Now, click on the link below to find out more about the Ancient Greeks at war, or read the information below.

In ancient times, Greece wasn't a single country like it is today. It was made up of lots of smaller states. These states were always squabbling and often went to war. Sparta and Athens fought a long war, called the Peloponnesian War, from 431 to 404BC.

Only the threat of invasion by a foreign enemy made the Greeks forget their quarrels and fight on the same side. Their biggest enemy were the Persians, who came from an area around modern-day Iran.

The Persian kings tried to conquer Greece a few times between 490 to 449BC, but the Greeks managed to fight them off. In the end, it was the Greeks who conquered Persia, when Alexander the Great defeated the Persian Empire in the 330s.

Here is what an ordinary Greek soldier or Hoplite looked like.  You can see the different parts of his armour.

Fighting formation

The backbone of the Greek army was the 'hoplite'. He was a foot soldier, who fought with a long spear and used a large round shield for protection.

In battle, hoplites fought as a team. They lined up in ranks and locked their shields together with just their spears pointing over the top. This formation was known as a ‘phalanx’.

Enemy soldiers saw only a wall of spears and shields moving towards them. It was tough to break through once a phalanx started marching forward.

The Greeks had archers and cavalry too, but it was the phalanx that won many famous battles.


The Spartan Soldier State

Fighting wars was what the Spartans did best. Greeks said that in battle one Spartan was worth several other men.

The Spartans believed that strict discipline and a tough upbringing was the secret to making the best soldiers. Boys left their families at seven to begin their 23-year-long training to become a soldier. Only those who went through this gruelling training system were considered true Spartan citizens.

It was a hard life. A boy was only allowed one tunic and had to walk everywhere barefoot, even in cold weather. They weren’t given much food either, so often had to steal.

Girls were expected to be physically fit too. They weren't allowed to be soldiers, but they did compete against the boys at sport. Spartan women also had more freedom than other Greek women. A wife ran the family farm and gave orders to the slaves (known as 'helots').

Spartan mothers told their sons before they left for battle, "Come back with your shield, or on it." Dead Spartans were carried home on their shields - only a coward would drop his shield and run away.

The War at Sea


Greek warships had oars as well as sails. The largest warships had three banks of oars and were called triremes. A trireme needed 170 men to row it - one man to each oar. It was steered by long oars at the stern or back of the ship. Fixed to the front of the trireme was a sharp metal ram. In battle, the triremes tried to get close to the enemy ships, and if possible, crash into them. When the trireme struck the side of an enemy ship, the ram smashed a hole in the wooden planks. Water flooded in and the damaged ship either sank or had to be beached on the nearest shore. The trireme's soldiers sometimes jumped onto a damaged ship to capture it.

The Battle of Marathon was a famous Greek victory.  It took place in September 490 BC on the plain of Marathon.  It was fought between the Greeks and the Persians.

Now look at the slides below to find out more about what happened at the Battle of Marathon.

Now that you know more about the Battle of Marathon, why do you think the tiny Greek army was able to defeat the mighty Persian army?

Here are some of the reasons why.  Read them through, then copy them out and number them 1 – 10 in order of importance.

Or you can print off the PDF worksheet below if needed.

The pictures below might help you decide which order to put them in.