It's All Greek (and Roman or Chinese) to Me:

Digging Up Ancient Cultures

By Jeanette Larson

Books to Share

Adventures with the Vikings by Linda Bailey

The Dirt on Dirt by Paulette Bourgeois

The Emperor's Army by Virginia Walton Pilegard

Rumi: Whirling Dervish by Demi

Books to Show or Booktalk

The Ancient Greeks by Allison Lassieur

The Chinese Thought of It by Ting-xing Ye

How to Be a Roman Soldier by Fiona MacDonald

If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking the Secrets of Stonehenge by Marc Aaronson

In Search of a Homeland: The Story of the Aeneid by Penelope Lively

The Sirens of Surrentum by Caroline Lawrence

Troy by Ann Kerns

Bulletin Board

Use a site like NOVA Online's Write Your Name in Viking Runes,, to spell words like library, reading, books, and summer in runes. Copy the runes onto construction paper and post on the bulletin board. Add pictures of ancient boats, weapons, jewelry, etc., to encourage the children to read about ancient cultures.


Serve Greek food like hummus and pita chips, yogurt, and baklava. These foods, still enjoyed today, were also eaten by the ancient Greeks.

Dance and Movement Songs

Invite a belly dance group to demonstrate this ancient form of folk dance, popular in Greece and other Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures.

Reader's Theater

The Magic Brocade

Use the script available from Aaron Shepard's RT Page,, to share this story from ancient China.

Puppet Plays

The Golden Touch

Use the script for "The Golden Touch" available in Amazingly Easy Puppet Plays by Dee Anderson to present a puppet show on the Greek myth about King Midas and his daughter.


Mosaic Tiles
  • Construction paper, various colors
  • Pictures of mosaics from Pompeii and other ancient cultures
  • White construction paper
  • Brown or black construction paper
  • Glue sticks
  • Pencils
  • Scissors

A photo of a framed mosaic of a brown dog on a red leash. The dog's tongue is red as well. It is on a tan background with a darker brown border around it.

Photograph by Jeanette Larson; used with permission.


Mosaics were originally made from glass pieces but for this project, in advance, cut pieces of construction paper into small squares, about ½" by ½". Place each separate color in to a dish or other container. Also in advance cut the white construction paper in half so that each child will have a square or rectangular piece for their "tile." Show the children illustrations of mosaics from Pompeii, Roman and Greek ruins, and other ancient cultures. Some examples can be found in books or online from BBC, Give a sheet of construction paper to each child. Sketch a design on the paper, filling the square with the design with a border. Use the glue sticks to adhere the mosaic pieces onto the paper to create the mosaic. When the design is complete, affix the "tile" to a larger sheet of brown or black construction paper to create a frame. Display the art or allow the children to take their piece home. Alternatively, for a more realistic looking mosaic, purchase glossy craft paper or origami paper instead of construction paper. The shiny finish mimics mosaic tiles.

  • Cardboard
  • Aluminum foil
  • Embellishments (foil stars, adhesive gems, stickers, trim, glitter)
  • Yarn or cord
  • Craft glue
  • Hole punch


In advance, cut circles out of cardboard for each child or a die cut. Give each child a circle and a square of aluminum foil large enough to cover the circle. Cover the circle with foil. Punch a hole in the circle. Apply embellishments such as stickers, gems, sequins, glitter, and foil stars. Cut a length of yarn or cord to fit the child. Thread the bulla onto the cord through the hole. Tie and wear. The bulla is an amulet given to children in Rome right after their birth. It was worn to protect them until they married or achieved adulthood.

Games and Activities

Volcanic Eruption

Demonstrate the power of a volcanic eruption by creating a science fair volcano. Use clay to form a cone around a jar. Place the cone and jar in a large plastic pan or on a baking pan that has a lip around the edge (to hold the "lava" when it flows). Fill the jar almost full with warm water. Squirt a couple squirts of liquid dish detergent into the water. Add red food coloring for a more dramatic effect. Pour in a large scoop of baking soda (don't try to use baking powder). When you are ready to make the volcano erupt, pour vinegar into the cone.

The Earth Moves

Use the activity in The Dirt on Dirt by Paulette Bourgeois to demonstrate how earthquakes happen. Wrap sandpaper around two blocks of wood and nail the sandpaper in place. Press the blocks together and show how the pieces hold together. Push harder so that the force of your pushing causes the "plates" to slip, much as happens in an earthquake.

Web-Based Activities

Make a Simple Mosaic

This online site allows users to create a mosaic picture.

The Mysteries of Çatalhöyük

This site offers games and activities related to excavations and exploration at this ancient Turkish city. Try playing the Excavation Game to test your skills at finding hidden artifacts.

Odyssey Online

Explore the ancient worlds, including Greece and Rome, through factual information and games.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians

The official site for Rick Riordan's popular series provides games, downloads, and a guide to the books and mythology.

Write in Runes

This site from the PBS series, NOVA, invites users to write their names, or any other word, in Viking runes.

Web 2.0

Cultural Trading Cards

Use an online program like ReadWriteThink's Character Trading Cards site,, to let the children create character trading cards based on the civilizations they have read about. They can use the Internet to find appropriate photography to upload to their card and type information into the program about their character. Print extra copies of completed cards for trading.


The Adventures of Walker and Ping Ping: The Great Wall (25 minutes)

"Dear Vikings" on SpongeBob SquarePants: Viking-Sized Adventure (88 minutes)

Gods and Heroes of Greece and Rome (42 minutes)

Hercules (93 minutes)

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (120 minutes)

Pompeii Secrets Revealed (50 minutes)


Percy Jackson Celebration Kit

This kit provides materials and resources for a store celebration but the games and party ideas are adaptable for libraries.

Volcano Hazards Program Webcams


This US government site provides images and links to webcams focused on several active volcanoes in the United States.


Texas Reading Club 2011 Programming Manual / Dig Up a Good Book!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011