Mythology Trading Cards Make A Great Project in 6th Grade!

My 6th graders love mythology.  They love the stories, the family trees, and know the difference between a cerberus and a chimaera.  So, when we wrapped up our unit on myths and fables, and to lighten their load during state testing time, I gave them a project to create a set of 9 trading cards. The set would highlight 8 mythological characters, and they would create one about themselves.

I have some students I would consider very talented artists.  But there was something about this assignment that really seemed to click with all of them. Perhaps it was the fact that they didn't feel overwhelmed by a huge creative project because the cards were the size of trading cards. Perhaps they just knew the subject matter and felt confident. Either way, they did an excellent job on this assignment.

Supply List:

  • A package of 200 blank trading cards (less than $10 on Amazon)
  • A package of trading card album pages (about $6 for a pack of 25 on Amazon)
  • 1 box of thin tipped sharpies
  • I already had a few sets of colored sharpies
  • Access to mythology books and handouts to use as reference
  • A binder to house the finished products

I always have a lot of reference material for any topic we tackle in class.  I've accumulated quite a stack of Mythlopedia books on different mythological characters which contain a lot of pictures, descriptions, and details about the Titans, the Olympians, the women and beasts and everything else. They are great for students. I also added a lot of graphic novels featuring Poseidon, Zeus, Medusa, and others.  Graphic novels are engaging for all students. Even readers who struggle will grab one and devour it. I can't keep them on the shelves!

Each student was given a trading card album page and 9 cards. The card in the middle would feature the artist (the student), and the others would be characters in mythology. On the back of each card, students were to include important information about that character - family tree, powers, etc.  The other requirement was the cards had to look like they are part of a set - they should have some thread that ties them together, such as a border, or color, or font style.

As you can see, the results were wonderful!






Middle Schoolers Love Mythology!

If there is one thing I can count on with each new class that I get every year, it's that they will love mythology.  No doubt that they know more than I do about it, as the characters are all around them in video games, movies and books. They are the experts, so my 8th grade Mythology Project was designed to  allow them to show off their knowledge by making a book about a famous character in mythology, which we share with our 5th grade classrooms.

We start off by doing some vocabulary, which helps those students who aren't as knowledgeable about the gods and goddesses as others.  We cover myth, god, mortal, Mt. Olympus, demi god, Titans, Olympians, and talk about Greece's relationship to the sea. We talk about the Olympic gods and show how many of our businesses today use references to mythology in their business names (Oracle, Hercules Moving Company, Nike, etc.).  We talk about how myths were used to help explain those things that were not easily explained at the time, such as the rough oceans, volcanoes, and even love. (They all know who Cupid is, but did you know that Cupid shot lead arrows if he wanted to keep people from falling in love?)

After all of this fun exploration into the world of Greek and Roman mythology, we then started our project. By now, all of the students had their favorite characters, but we needed to make sure that we covered a wide range of characters since the books would be shared with the 5th graders to teach them about mythology. To keep it fair, we put all of the names of the acceptable characters on the board, and then  wrote each student's name on a popsicle stick. We picked a stick at random, and that student then chose the character they wanted. It was the most fair way we could find to match characters to students.

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The project was done on board books. I bought them from a company called Bare Books (barebooks.com), and they have a wide range of blank page books to choose from. I use their products often in class, especially when I want students to capture a comic or graphic novel story onto paper. I also use them with younger grade level students when I'm wearing my Basic Skills or Writing Coach hat to get students excited about showing off their writing. I have a closet shelf loaded up will all different styles and sizes of blank books. (That will be another blog, I'm sure.)

The pages in the book need to follow a guideline to ensure that each book contains pertinent information about the character:

The cover must include a drawing of the character (all pages must be hand-drawn and hand-written!)

Pages 1/2 - an overview and drawing of Mt. Olympus and its significance to mythology

Pages 3/4  - a family tree for that particular character

Pages 5/6 - What are the character's strengths/powers/symbols? (written and illustrated)

Remaining pages - a story in which the character appears that will help the reader understand the character's role in mythology (retold in their own words, not copied!)

The back cover includes a short biography of the student author, along with a photo.



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While the students work on their books in class and out of class, we continue to explore the world of mythology. We usually watch any of the Percy Jackson movies by Rick Riorden as many of the characters will appear in them. We'll also look at Greek word roots to find similarities in words we use today.








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When the books are completed, the 5th grade teachers use them for a day or two discussion to introduce mythology. The best part is when the books are returned with book reviews written by the 5th graders for the 8th grade authors. We all enjoy reading their feedback to us after they've read our books.



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