The Greek Gods and Goddesses of Olympus

Teacher Guide by Anna Warfield

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Olympians Lesson Plans

Student Activities for Greek Mythology-The Olympians Include:

The Greek pantheon encompasses many human characteristics and places. It is the twelve Olympians, however, that receive the most attention, as they are often embroiled in scandal, heroic adventures, and religious rites. In addition to having enormous cultural, artistic, and literary significance, Zeus and the other Olympians' stories are simply fascinating!

Greek Mythology-The Olympians Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Themes of the Olympians

Themes come alive when you use a storyboard. In this activity, students will identify themes from mythology, and support their choices with details from the text.

Abnormal Births

As the gods are divine beings, it only makes sense that some of their births would be extraordinary! Aphrodite was born from the sea, Athena was born fully grown from the head of Zeus, and Dionysus was born from Zeus' thigh. These gods each entered the world in a unique way. Additionally, Zeus' siblings were all swallowed by Kronos after being born, so they underwent a sort of rebirth when Zeus freed them.

There are many recurring themes in the myths surrounding the Olympians. Some other themes to consider are the importance of beauty, infidelity, anger, involvement with mortals, and marriage.

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Symbols of the Gods of Olympus

Symbols are extremely important when discussing the Greek gods and goddesses. Both major and minor gods had symbols and physical attributes that identified them. Each god and goddess had their own domain of power and influence, which often pointed to items, plants, and animals. Some symbols only became associated with a god because of one of the myths and remained as an identifier in art and literature.

In this activity, students will create representations of various Greek gods, the number of which is at the teacher's discretion. Students will create a traditional storyboard with titles (names) and descriptions. In each cell, students need to depict the god with a scene and at least one item or animal. While there are characters who are intended to be the Greek gods and goddesses in the "Greek Mythology" tab on Storyboard That, students should feel open to choosing any character they like to represent the gods.

The example below includes the twelve Olympians and an additional four. Hades and Hestia are siblings of Zeus, Persephone is the daughter of Demeter and wife to Hades, and Hercules is a famous demi-god who ascended to Olympus at his death.

Greek Gods and Goddesses Symbols

  • Sky
  • Eagle
  • Lightning bolt
  • Peacock
  • Diadem
  • Cow
  • Sea
  • Trident
  • Horse
  • Field
  • Cornucopia
  • Grain
  • Volcano
  • Forge
  • Hammer
  • Rose
  • Dove
  • Mirror
  • Sun
  • Serpent
  • Lyre
  • Moon
  • Deer/Stag
  • Bow
  • Architecture
  • Owl
  • Medusa's Head
  • Spear
  • Boar
  • Shield
  • Winged Sandals
  • Winged Hat
  • Caduceus
  • Wine/grapes
  • Exotic animals
  • Thyrsus
  • Underworld
  • Cerberus
  • Helm of Invisibility
  • Home
  • Hearth
  • Sacred Fire
  • Spring
  • Pomegranate
  • Nemean Lion Skin
  • Club

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Olympian Vocabulary

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English words related to mythology often came from Roman names because the development of English was heavily influenced by Latin, the language of the Roman Empire. The Romans conquered the Greeks and assimilated the Greek gods into their own culture. Roman versions of the Greek gods and goddesses are similar, but have different names.

Greek and Roman Names for the Olympians

Greek NameRoman NameGreek NameRoman Name

Olympian Vocabulary Example

  • jovial
  • Herculean
  • mercurial
  • cereal
  • martial
  • volcano

Students will create a visual vocabulary board that shows the relationship between the god from the Greek myth and the English word.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)

Student Instructions

Create a storyboard for at least three vocabulary words that shows the relationship between the character from the myth and the English word.

  1. Choose three vocabulary words and type them in the title boxes.
  2. Find the definition in a print or online dictionary.
  3. Use the dividing line in Scenes > Patterns to split cells into two parts.
  4. On one side, show and depict the character from myth.
  5. On the other side, illustrate the meaning of the vocabulary word.
  6. Save and submit your storyboard to the assignment.

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

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Spotlight: Olympian Gods and Goddesses

Greek mythology is filled with amazing stories that all intertwine. The Olympians are often key players in many stories involving heroes and monsters.

Students will create a storyboard that highlights a single Olympian. Using the character map as a template, students can depict and describe one Olympian in detail by identifying powers, important symbols, and related myths. In the example below, Dionysus is shown in front of a vineyard surrounded by his symbols, and his pertinent myths are identified. Students should summarize one of the related myths in the description box below, or write a paragraph describing the Olympian by incorporating the details noted above.

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Make a Modern Greek God

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Parodies, Satires, and Modern Day Adaptation are rich with literary elements. They are valuable assets for teaching students about literature. Through creative writing, students learn to use literary elements in context, committing them to memory.

During a unit on Greek mythology, you can have students create their own Greek god. They can turn themselves, someone they know, or even a celebrity into a god. For this assignment, have students go over the elements of a Greek god in order to create their own:

Elements of a Greek god:

  • Domain:
  • What do they rule? What do they have power and influence over. For example, Apollo is the god of the sun, poetry, and healing.

  • Symbol:
  • What is their power item? Examples: Zeus’s lightning bolts, Poseidon's trident, Athena’s spear.

  • Connection with the real world:
  • What natural occurrence do they control? For example, Aeolus controls the winds, and Demeter, the seasons.

Students can create amazing storyboards depicting their person as a Greek god! Check out this example below:

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)

Student Instructions

Create your own Greek god! Write a story involving this new Greek god, keeping in mind the typical character traits and themes you have read about in Greek mythology.

  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Choose a character to represent your new god.
  3. Depict the character and attributes. Include a creative name, domain, symbols, power, and any weaknesses.
  4. Create a teaser or micro-summary of a backstory, birth/origin story, or significant involvement with a hero's quest.
  5. Finalize images, edit, and proofread your work.
  6. Save and submit storyboard to assignment.

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

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The influence of the ancient Greek myths remains after many centuries in art, architecture, language, literature, and modern television and film. The stories in Greek mythology have universal themes and archetypes that are applicable across cultures, but are also memorable narratives by themselves. The Olympians often take a center role in these Greek myths because they are the twelve major gods of the Greek pantheon.

The Olympians also important influences to various heroes on their quests. Some influences may be positive, like Athena guiding Hercules or Odysseus, but some can also be major obstacles for heroes. Poseidon inhibits Odysseus from making it home to Ithaca, Hera tries to foil Hercules' Labors whenever she can, and Zeus sends the Argo way off course on its way home. Learning more about the personalities, areas of influence, and symbols of the Greek gods and goddesses is beneficial for understanding various allusions in literature, music, art, architecture, astronomy, marketing, and more.

Essential Questions for The Greek Gods and Goddesses

  1. Why do you think there are twelve Olympians?
  2. How are the personalities of the Olympians reflected in their powers, domain, or symbols?
  3. What role do myths play in our lives today?

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•   (English) Greek Mythology: The Olympians   •   (Español) Mitología Griega: Los Olímpicos   •   (Français) Mythologie Grecque: Les Olympiens   •   (Deutsch) Griechische Mythologie: Die Olympier   •   (Italiana) Mitologia Greca: gli dei Dell'Olimpo   •   (Nederlands) Griekse Mythologie: The Olympians   •   (Português) Mitologia Grega: Os Olimpianos   •   (עברית) מיתולוגיה יוונית: והאולימפיים   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) الأساطير اليونانية: الرياضيين   •   (हिन्दी) ग्रीक पौराणिक कथाओं: ओलम्पियन   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Греческая Мифология: Олимпийцы   •   (Dansk) Græsk Mytologi: De Olympiske   •   (Svenska) Grekisk Mytologi: Olympierna   •   (Suomi) Kreikkalainen Mytologia: Olympians   •   (Norsk) Gresk Mytologi: The Olympians   •   (Türkçe) Yunan Mitolojisi: Olimposlular   •   (Polski) Mitologia Grecka: Olimpijczycy   •   (Româna) Mitologia Greacă: Olimpieni   •   (Ceština) Greek Mythology: The Olympians   •   (Slovenský) Grécka Mytológia: Olympiáni   •   (Magyar) Görög Mitológia: Olimpikonok   •   (Hrvatski) Grčka Mitologija: Olimpijci   •   (български) Гръцката Митология: Олимпийците   •   (Lietuvos) Graikų Mitologija: Olimpiečių   •   (Slovenščina) Grška Mitologija: The Olimpijci   •   (Latvijas) Grieķu Mitoloģija: The Olimpieši   •   (eesti) Kreeka Mütoloogia: Olümplased