In The Lightning Thief and D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, students analyze the purpose of mythology in ancient Greece and explore the theme of hubris. This unit launches the year-long discussion on heroism.
This first unit of sixth grade combines Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief with classical mythology to create a high-interest, humorous introduction to middle school while also providing students with a foundation in the Greek gods and goddesses. The novel is about a 12-year-old boy who learns that his true father is Poseidon, god of the sea. Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to find the entrance to the underworld and stop a war between the gods. While told in a light-hearted tone, The Lightning Thief explores serious issues such as learning disabilities, self-doubt, and family problems that are relevant to the middle school reader. Students quickly empathize with the protagonist’s fierce sense of loyalty toward his mother and friends.
This unit launches a year-long discussion on what it means to be a hero. Students will compare Percy’s fantasy adventure with that of archetypal heroes from other literature by analyzing the research of Joseph Campbell, an American mythological expert. In the beginning of the novel, students will make inferences about characters and their relationships by delving into inner thoughts, dialogue, and actions. By the end, students will explain particular choices the author makes to create the mood of a scene or to convey character motivation. Across many lessons, students will practice identifying the context clues to determine the meaning of an unknown word. Through D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, students will analyze the purpose of mythology in ancient Greece and explore the theme of hubris as it appears in several texts.
Below is a list of the Greek myths that are interwoven throughout the unit:
Zeus and his Family
The Three Fates
Theseus and the Minotaur
The Oracle at Delphi
Athena, Arachne, and the Weaving Contest
Orpheus and Eurydice
Persephone and Demeter
Overall, this first unit offers an opportunity for students to analyze elements of the hero’s quest, to connect with a modern-day narrator, and to immerse themselves in Greek mythology. It is significant to note that this unit plan draws from Rick Riordan’s A Teacher’s Guide and EngageNY’s Grade 6: Module 1.
Article: “The Three Fates: Destiny’s Deities of Ancient Greece and Rome” by Bryan Hill (Ancient Origins, 2015)
Myth: Theseus and the Minotaur
Article: “The Hero’s Journey”
Video: “The Hero’s Journey according to Joseph Campbell - video by Matthew Winkler and Kirill Yeretsky” by Ueber-Brands (YouTube, 2016)
Resource: The Lightning Thief: A Teacher’s Guide (Rick Riordan, 2005)
Article: “The Oracle at Delphi” (PBS.org)
Visual: Prometheus by Jan Cossiers
See Text Selection Rationale
Students will learn to dissect the prompt by breaking it into parts in order to fully grasp the question before starting their outline and draft pages. In narrative writing, students will work to maintain first-person point of view in a tone that is suitable to their selected god or goddess. In their literary analysis writing, students will focus on making thesis statements that thoroughly answer the prompt and supporting their claims with direct quotations. In both written assignments, students will work on organizing their writing in paragraphs.
contextual clues, infer, gist, mood, hubris
hyper -, viv-, im-, mor-, trans-, arachne-, -phobia, demi-, tri-
Greek Mythology: offspring (D’Aulaires’, 14), fled (D’Aulaires’, 17), wrath (D’Aulaires’, 36, 132) dung (D’Aulaires’, 135), atone (D’Aulaires’, 132, 142), transparent (D’Aulaires’, 132, 284, 293), persistent (D’Aulaires’, 293), barge (D’Aulaires’, 289), diploma (D’Aulaires’, 289) woolly mammoth (D’Aulaires’, 293), melancholy (D’Aulaires’, 298), mournful (D’Aulaires’, 299), boast (Medusa), arachnophobia (Athena, Arachne and the Weaving Contest)
The Hero’s Journey: archetype (article)
The Lightning Thief: scrawny (3), triumphant (10), pulverize (11, 89, 107), hallucination/hallucinating (16, 40, 62), archer’s bow (20), glumly (24, 112), mournfully (28, 248), dyslexic (38), hyperactive (38), vivid (41), bolt (52), architect/architecture (62, 83, 202), archery (62, 79, 83, 84, 107), mischievous (63), immortal (67), ADHD, armor/armory/armed (79, 109), sullen (85), ambrosia (88), johns (90), skeptically (93), mischievous (100), omen (102), humiliating (107), resent (108, 159), sparring (110), fate (112), vowed (113), oath (114), aura (114), torment (114), sacrifice (115), gaudy (116), scowled (128), quest (134), quarrel (134), paranoid (136), summer solstice (137, 247), chaos (138), carnage (138), wrath (138), slayer (140), destiny (141), illusion (154), melancholy (156, 298), rivals (157), aura (159), repulsively (159), impulsive (164, 173), eternal (165), marred (176), menace (181), petrify (184), pledge (189), deceitful (199), helm (204), fugitive (212), murk (212, 270), fatalities (216, 335), brutal (224), corpse (228), douse (238), transport (242), toying (247), mournful (248), escort (248), chasm (252, 271, 304), horrid (253), torment (256), eons (300), grotesquely (307), mesmerizing (309), charisma (309), arrogant (310), helm (314), grim (316), sacrifice (317), reconciliation (326), ego (326), pawns (365), vengeance (371)
Greek Mythology: Satyr (45), minotaur (59), centaur (74), Oracle (94, 102), Naiads (94, 112), demigods (95), naids (112), River Styx (114), Tartarus (114), hellhounds (125), trident (126), Oracle (134), Hercules and Jason (152), cyclops (154), the Furies (161), Chimera (207), Echidna (207), Cupid (232), Charon(285), River Styx (289), Cerberus (297), Sisyphus (301), Tartarus (305)
“harbor a grudge” (143)
“to give [you] the benefit of the doubt” (228)
3rd grade: (Roman) The Oak and the Linden, Prometheus, Atlas and the Eleventh Labor, Cupid and Psyche, Otus and Ephialtes, Twin Giants, Romulus and Remus, Oedipus and the Sphynx
4th grade: (Greek) Apollo and Daphne, Pandora’s Box, I am Arachne, Echo and Narcissus, Hercules
10th grade: Antigone by Sophocles
This assessment accompanies Unit 6 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.
Greek Myths pp. 12 – 23 — "The Titans" and "Zeus and His Family"
Teacher's Guide — p. 4
Complete a family tree of the Greek gods based on the myths "The Titans" and "Zeus and His Family."
Explain the purpose of mythology in Ancient Greece.
Connect to prior knowledge about the Greek Gods.
Research details about the Greek Gods.
Use research to write a narrative from first-person point of view from the perspective of a god or goddess.
Present narratives aloud to class, focusing on tone and volume.
The Lightning Thief — Ch. 1
Make inferences about Percy as a character.
Analyze how the author develops the narrator’s point of view.
“The Three Fates”
The Lightning Thief — Ch. 2
Make inferences about Percy as a character.
Determine the meaning of an unknown word using context clues.
The Lightning Thief — Ch. 3
Make inferences about Percy based on his inner thoughts.
Analyze how the author uses first person point of view and dialogue to characterize Percy.
Theseus and the Minotaur
The Lightning Thief — Ch. 4
Make inferences based on character’s response to challenge.
“The Hero’s Journey”
“The Hero's Journey video”
Build background information on the archetypal hero.
Explain the relationship between Percy Jackson and The Hero’s Journey.
The Lightning Thief — Ch. 5
Make inferences on Percy’s character based on his interactions with other characters, response to challenges and inner thoughts.
The Lightning Thief — Ch. 6
Explain that Percy is on the hero’s journey based on evidence from The Lightning Thief and "The Hero’s Journey."
The Lightning Thief — Ch. 7
Determine the meaning of an unknown word using contextual clues.
The Lightning Thief — Ch. 8
Explain the clues Rick Riordan gives the readers to determine Percy’s father before he does.
The Lightning Thief — Ch. 9
“The Oracle at Delphi”
Identify and explain the main external conflict in chapter 9.
The Lightning Thief — Ch. 10
Heroes, Gods... pp. 647 – 651
Identify and explain character motivation.
The Lightning Thief — Ch. 11
The Story of...
Explain author’s purpose in describing the setting in such detail.
Explain how hubris can have consequences in Greek mythology.
The Lightning Thief — Ch. 12
Explain the author’s use of italics when depicting the evil use.
The Lightning Thief — Ch. 13
Analyze how characters are motivated by their relationships with their fathers.
The Lightning Thief — Ch. 14
Identify and analyze the mood when Percy is underwater in the river.
The Lightning Thief — Ch. 15
Analyze how the mood in Waterland contributes to the plot.
The Lightning Thief — Ch. 16
Greek Myths — Athena, Arachne, and the Weaving Contest
Analyze the impact of words on mood.
The Lightning Thief — Ch. 17
Greek Myths — Orpheus and Eurydice
Explain the meaning of an unknown word using contextual clues.
Greek Myths pp. 132 – 142 — Heracles
Analyze how the Greek gods use violence to maintain their power.
The Lightning Thief — Ch. 18
Explain how the setting helps to create the mood.
The Lightning Thief — Ch. 19
Greek Myths pp. 58 – 62 — Persephone
Explain how particular sentences contribute to the plot.
Explain how the ancient Greeks understood the origin of winter.
The Lightning Thief — Ch. 20
Analyze how the author slows down time and stretches out the story’s conflict
using small, pressure-filled moments.
The Lightning Thief — Ch. 21
Analyze how Percy’s relationship with his father has changed over time.
The Lightning Thief — Ch. 22
Explain Luke’s motivation for stealing the master bolt.