Looking Back: Ancient Greece – Play Acting Athenian Hierarchy

It seems like an age since my last ‘Looking Back’ Post on Ancient Minoans.  After the Minoans we studied Mycenaean history, but it doesn’t make for very interesting reading and I can’t find any photos so I’m skipping straight onto Athenian Hierarchy.

The social structure was very specific in ancient Greece and very clear-cut.  It was difficult, but not impossible, to move between classes.  A slave could earn his freedom.  But this was unusual.  I wanted to teach this but rather than just reading and have the children narrate it to me, I decided to set them a task.

First, they had to learn as much as possible about the three classes:  the citizen, the metic and the slave.

The resources we used included the following books:



I had book marked any pages I thought might be handy for this quest.  After they had finished their research they were allowed to pick a class out of the jar.  As they did not know beforehand who they might be, they needed to make sure they knew lots about each class of people.  They were given time to ‘become’ that person.  They had to dress up, name themselves and have a story about their life so they were able to answer any questions the reporter (me) might have for them:

C was a freeman, called Hurcules
C was a freeman, called Hercules
T was a metic called Auralius
T was a metic called Auralius
And little L was a slave called Diana. This is their story....
And little L was a slave called Diana.
This is their story….

Once they were ready, I had them come to me in character and I interviewed them.  I had pre-prepared questions and I wrote down the answers, exactly as they gave them.  Using the photos above I turned it into a simple report, and each child got a copy for their folders:




This was such a successful activity.  The children researched, learnt about all three classes, dressed up as one, each was tested on their knowledge in a fun, non threatening environment (and in fact were unaware they were being tested) and they did not have to actually write anything, yet ended up with a piece of work which was, to all intents and purposes, their own.

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  1. Absolutely brilliant! I love this… the very best way to retain information… seeking it for themselves through researching and then cementing it by the acting. Really good!

    1. Thank you! It was a good way of them learning information, without the dreaded writing. We just did our pond study and found a terrapin!!! (Sorry, I know nothing to do with this post!)

      1. Ooh a terrapin – how exciting! (I can so relate to pond excitement. We drove past ours yesterday and I found it so hard not to get out and say hello to the wildfowl :-D)

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