Activity Overview

Starting a unit or lesson with the key vocabulary that students will see in their readings or presentations aids in overall comprehension and retention. In this activity, students will create a storyboard that defines and illustrates key vocabulary related to the study of ancient Rome.

Students will preview the terms and definitions and use whole class or small group discussion to demonstrate their understanding of each meaning. Then, they will create a spider map of 3-5 terms at the teachers discretion. When students define and illustrate each term, they master the application of it and retain it as part of their lexicon.

Suggested Vocabulary for Ancient Rome:

Forum: an open area in a city filled with public buildings, temples and markets.

Republic: a government in which citizens have the right to vote and elect officials.

Legion: the basic unit of the Roman army with about 4,500-5,000 heavily armed soldiers.

Maniple: legions were broken up into maniples. A maniple was a unit of between 60-160 soldiers.

Diplomacy: managing relationships with other countries through negotiation.

Constitution: a system of rules by which a government is organized. It can be written or unwritten. The Roman constitution was unwritten unlike the U.S. Constitution. It was based on tradition, custom and a collection of laws.

Veto: to stop or cancel the action of a government official or body. In Latin, veto means “I forbid.”

Magistrates: elected officials who enforce the law. The magistrates in the Roman government were the branch of government made up of elected wealthy men from elite families. The two highest magistrates were the Consuls.

Toga: a garment that adult men wore wrapped around their bodies. Only citizens could wear togas. Only free men could be citizens. Women and slaves were not citizens and could have no direct role in government.

Patricians: one of the orders of Roman citizenship, patricians were members of the oldest families in Rome and were usually wealthy and controlled most aspects of government.

Plebeians: the second order of Roman citizenship, plebeians were the majority of Romans. They were mostly farmers or artisans.

Assemblies: groups of adult male Roman citizens who passed laws and elected magistrates.

The Senate: made up of wealthy important citizens whose job it was to help pass laws, control foreign policy, and government money. Senators were chosen by an official called the censor.

Consuls: the top officials of the Roman republic. Their most important job was to lead the army but they also presided over the senate and assemblies and were the highest judges.

Dictators: In ancient Rome, a dictator was an important public official. The senate could vote to name a dictator in times of great emergency. Dictators held complete power but for a maximum of six months.

Patriarchal society: a society where men rule their families and people trace their origins through male ancestors.

Paterfamilias: the oldest male in the Roman family and the head of the household.

Villa: large country home that was usually owned by an elite upper-class Roman family.

Tenant farmer: farmers who rented land from wealthy landlords and did not own the land themselves.

Stylus: a pointed instrument used for writing.

Gladiator: a person trained to fight another person to the death for public entertainment.

Polytheism: worship of many gods or deities.

Pax Romana: a period of stability in the Roman Empire.

Oratory: art of giving speeches.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Due Date:

Objective: Create a storyboard that defines and illustrates ancient Roman vocabulary. To find art and characters related to ancient Rome, type "Rome" into the search box in the Storyboard Creator.

Student Instructions:

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. In the title boxes, identify the key terms you have chosen.
  3. In the description boxes, write the definition of the term.
  4. Create an illustration for each term using appropriate scenes, characters, and items.
  5. Save and exit when you're done.

Requirements: Must have 3 terms, correct definitions and appropriate illustrations for each that demonstrate your understanding of the words.

Lesson Plan Reference

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/L/9-10/3] Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening
  • [ELA-Literacy/L/9-10/4] Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grades 9-10 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies
  • [ELA-Literacy/L/9-10/6] Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Visual Vocabulary Assignment
Define, illustrate, and give an example sentence for any five vocabulary words.
Proficient Emerging Beginning
The definition is correct.
The definition is partially correct.
The definition is incorrect.
The storyboard cells clearly illustrate the meaning of the vocabulary words.
The storyboard cells relate to the meaning of the vocabulary words, but are difficult to understand.
The storyboard cells do not clearly relate to the meaning of the vocabulary words.

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