This session focuses on Ancient Greek buildings – mainly temples to their various gods and goddesses. Children can have a go at making some art and writing descriptions or a postcard based on what they find out. They can also try some critical thinking – looking more closely at the things we know about and asking some interesting questions about it.
Support children to find out about the Ancient Greek’s different styles of building design by reading the information below and looking online or in books. They can then try one or more of the art activities. There’s an interesting critical thinking activity at the end they can try that will help them think about Ancient Greek culture as well as our own.
What you need
- Access to the information and ideas below
- Art materials for chosen art activity
- Someone to discuss critical thinking ideas with and/or pen and paper to write down responses
What to do
- Step 1: Learn about Greek architecture styles
- Step 2: Choose one or more activities based on columns and/or temples to complete
- Step 3: Critical thinking activity
Step 1: Learn about Greek architecture styles
Building design styles
The Ancient Greeks had 3 styles of architecture. These are called Doric, Ionic and Corinthian.
Look at some Greek columns and see the different styles. This page has a good illustration:
Find some Ancient Greek buildings online or in books about Ancient Greece and see if you can spot the different styles.
Do you have one you like best?
Step 2: Columns and temples
Choose one or more of the following activities based on columns and temples to do. There’s plenty of options including art, descriptions, fact-finding and postcards.
Try sketching a column in each of the different styles, or just choose one to do
Make a 3D picture of one of the columns (or just the top part) out of strips of paper and PVA glue
Sculpt a column (or just the top part) out of clay in one or more of the designs
How would you describe the three different columns to someone who hadn’t seen a picture?
See if you can come up with some interesting descriptions. Can you think of any metaphors, similes or personification to describe them?
Ancient Greek temples – the Parthenon
One of the most famous buildings the ancient Greeks built is the Parthenon in Athens. It was built as a temple for Athena – the goddess who was the patron for Athens. Much of it still stands today thousands of years on.
See if you can find any more information about this temple by searching online. Can you find out:
Who built it
When it was built
How long did it take to build
What it is built from
How many columns has it got
How big it is
Can you tell which style it is – Doric, Ionic or Corinthian?
What words would you use to describe the Parthenon?
Would you like to visit this ancient temple?
Would you prefer to visit it now or in the past when it was first built? Can you give your reasons?
Have a look at some other ancient Greek temples. What different shapes, sizes and styles can you find?
Try making a model of one of the ancient Greek temples you’ve found.
Draw your own postcard and write on the back to someone pretending to visit the temple – either now or when it was newly built.
Step 3: Critical thinking activity
The Ancient Greek’s building designs inspired future architects and builders. A famous example is the White House in the USA where the president lives. Have a look online at images of the White House and see if you can spot any Ancient Greek influence.
The Royal Exchange building in London was rebuilt in 1844 after a fire. Pillars were built at the front in one of the Greek styles. Search for an image of The Royal Exchange London and see if you can tell which style it is.
The Royal Exchange is now a fancy shopping centre with very expensive shops. Its history is of money, trading and banking and it was a centre of the Empire in Victorian times.
Can you find any other examples?
The gods and goddesses were the most powerful and important parts of the Ancient Greek’s lives. They also represented what mattered to them in their everyday life. For example:
- Athena was the goddess of wisdom and war
- Apollo the god of medicine and music
- Hermes the god of travel and trade
- Hera the goddess of marriage
- The temples were built to honour the gods and goddesses and were places people could go to show their respect. The temples were a way the Ancient Greeks showed what really mattered to them.
Questions for reflection
- Why do you think people chose to copy the Ancient Greek temples in buildings such as the White House and The Royal Exchange?
- What does this say about what was important to them?
- What message does this send about the building and those who use it or own it?
- What part did they want the buildings – and those who used them – to play in people’s everyday lives?