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McREL Standards Activity

Great Caesar’s Ghost

Purpose:As a result of this activity, students will be able to utilize imaginative thinking skills along with factual content to speculate on what daily life was like during the Roman Empire.
Related Standard & Benchmarks:
World History
 Standard 9.Understand how major religious and large-scale empires arose in the Mediterranean Basin, China, and India from 500 BCE to 300 CE
   Level II [Grade 5-6]
   Benchmark 2. Understands shifts in the political and social framework of Roman society (e.g., political and social institutions of the Roman Republic and reasons for its transformation from Republic to Empire; how values changed from the early Republic to the last years of the Empire as reflected through the lives of such Romans as Cincinnatus, Scipio Africanus, Tiberius Gracchus, Cicero, Julius Caesar, Augustus, Nero, Marcus Aurelius, and Constantine)
Student Product:Diary
Material & Resources:For additional teaching resources on daily life in Ancient Rome, click here.
Teacher's Note:No supplementary notes for this activity.
The teacher creates two casts of characters representing the gamut of Roman society (e.g., slaves, plebeians, patricians, Senators) from the dawn of the republic to the final days of the empire.  The instructor should assign students their roles in order to ensure that the desired spectrum of social classes is covered.  The teacher may also wish to assign specific periods or events for the students to write about (e.g., "where were you the day you heard about Julius Ceasar’s assassination?").

Students create diary entries describing a day in the life of one of the characters.  The diaries should provide accurate descriptions of daily life in Rome, the social framework of Roman society, changes in Roman political institutions (e.g., Caesar’s grab for power, Augustus’ Pax Romana, etc.), changing values (e.g., Nero’s persecution of the Christians, Constantine’s conversion etc.), and changes in Roman social institutions (e.g., growing poverty in Rome, the rise of private armies, etc.).  

Students compile their diary entries in a class book.  Students read the diary entries together, then use a graphic organizer to record the important changes in Roman life as the society changed from a republic to an empire.  Column headings might include "Roman Republic" and "Roman Empire"; rows might include topics such as "Politics", "Society", "Values", etc.