Overview: This lesson outline provides suggestions for how to use existing National Geographic resources about ancient Rome in the classroom.
Resources range from maps, articles, images of ruins and artifacts, and activities that illustrate how the ancient Romans influenced modern society. An interactive online quiz called a Kahoot! accompanies this teaching idea. The Kahoot! can be used as a formative assessment or to assess prior knowledge. Resources referenced throughout this lesson can all be found on the Ancient Rome collection page.
Select the resources that are most applicable to your classroom and students’ needs to build your own lesson on ancient Rome.
Grade Level: Grades 6–8
- Religion and Mythology
- Social structure
Students will be able to…
- identify characteristic elements of ancient Roman society;
- explain how the government of ancient Rome worked; and
- analyze the economic and religious aspects of ancient Rome.
Choose a Hook:
- [10 minutes] Display the visual of the Roman forum. Students can discuss the visual by sharing what they know about ancient Rome and daily life for its people. Then share the other visuals in the image gallery and let students discuss them as it relates to the previous discussion of daily Roman life.
- [5 minutes] Kickoff with the Kahoot! – what do your students already know about ancient Rome?
Choose an activity or two to explore aspects of ancient Rome:
- [50 minutes] Mythology and Culture in Ancient Rome. Discover the daily life and the beliefs of ancient Romans as students explore different myths and analyze their purpose. The activity will culminate with students writing their own myths about ancient Rome.
- [50 minutes] Republic to Empire: Government in Ancient Rome. Explore the different forms of government in ancient Rome (Republican system and Imperial system) and learn how they were similar and different, as well as what impact the governments had on life for the Roman people.
- [50 minutes] Rome’s Transition from Republic to Empire. Examine the different driving factors that began to erode Rome’s republican system and allow it to transform into an empire.
- [50 minutes] The Power of Latin in Ancient Rome. See how the power of language influenced ancient Rome and affected its people.
- [50 minutes] The Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Rome. Explore the deities that the Romans worshipped. Examine how the Romans understood the nature of these deities, their presence in the physical Roman world, and how other cultures greatly influenced Roman mythology.
- [35 minutes] How Rome Inspires Us Today. Even today, so much of our world can be traced back to the legacy of the ancient Romans. Explore this infographic that shows us how the features of buildings and spaces in our modern society were inspired by the Roman world.
Choose a map and lesson to explore the geography of ancient Rome:
- [50 minutes] Physical Geography and Power in Ancient Rome. Explore how geography helped to increase the power and growth of ancient Rome through its influence on the road system to where Rome chose to establish new colonies.
- [20 minutes] The Battle of Alexandria. Examine the battle of Alexandria and its impact on ancient Rome and its rulers.
- [20 minutes] Roman Empire: Road and Trade Network. Review the extensive Roman road system and how it connected settlements across the empire to each other and to the imperial capital. Also, identify how Rome mastered trade on the Mediterranean Sea.
Read about Julius Caesar and his influence on ancient Rome:
- [20 minutes] Caesar Crosses the Rubicon. Learn what happened when Caesar crossed the Rubicon, the civil war that ensued, and how he became “dictator for life,” signaling the beginning of the end of the Roman Republic.
- [20 minutes] Julius Caesar Assassinated. Discover why Caesar’s fellow politicians feared him and his power and how his assassination led to the formation of the Roman Empire.
- [10 minutes] Julius Caesar Takes a Leap. Explore why Julius Caesar added “leap day” to the calendar and its effect on Roman agriculture.
Read about daily Roman life with these fiction articles:
- [20 minutes] Word on the Via: Quintus Valerius Secundus. Rome had the most powerful army in the world, but what was life like for its soldiers? Meet Quintus Valerius Secundus and find out.
- [20 minutes] Word on the Via: Gaius Valerius Silvanus. One of Rome’s most plentiful resources was wood. Thus, many Romans worked as carpenters. Meet Gaius Valerius Silvanus and find out what it was like to be a carpenter in ancient Rome.
- [20 minutes] Word on the Via: Tryphosa. One job of a house slave in ancient Rome was that of a hairdresser. Meet Tryphosa and find out what her job as a hairdresser in ancient Rome was like and what her duties were.
One way we learn about ancient Rome is through archaeology. Conduct an exploration of archaeology by utilizing the following resource:
- Article: Emerging Explorer: Sarah Parcak. Meet Sarah Parcak and see how she explores and uses archaeology to discover details and information about the ancient world.
Ask students to respond to what role they think archaeology plays in our modern knowledge of ancient Rome.
Choose an assessment:
- [5 minutes] 5 question Kahoot! on ancient Rome. If you used the Kahoot! as a hook with your class, debrief by asking if their scores improved and why.
NSS-WH.5-12.3 ERA 3: Classical Traditions, Major Religions, and Giant Empires, 1000 BCE-300 CE: The student in grades 5-12 should understand how major religions and large-scale empires arose in the Mediterranean basin, China, and India, 500 BCE-300 CE.
CA.6.7. World History and Geography: Ancient Civilizations: Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures during the development of Rome.
FL SS.6.E.3.3 Describe traditional economies (Egypt, Greece, Rome, Kush) and elements of those economies that led to the rise of a merchant class and trading partners.
FL SS.6.W.3.11 Explain the transition from the Roman Republic to empire and Imperial Rome, and compare Roman life and culture under each one.
FL SS.6.W.3.8 Determine the impact of significant figures associated with ancient Rome.