Cabinets of Curiosity activity 5: coins from Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece was the cradle of western civilisation. Children investigate Cabinets of Curiosity 9: coins to see what they can reveal about life in Ancient Greece.
Increased knowledge and understanding of life in Ancient Greece as depicted in coins.
KS1-2 History (Ancient Greece)
KS1-2 Art (Ancient Greek art)
Coins are a great starting point for investigating many aspects of life in Ancient Greece. Bring up the photo of the Ancient Greek silver coins on your interactive whiteboard.
Ask the children the question:
- What can we tell about life in Ancient Greece from looking at coins?
Zoom in to investigate and discuss some of the coins in close up.
Ask the following questions:
- Who is on the front of most of the coins?
- What other pictures and symbols can you see?
- What can we tell about Ancient Greek fashion and hairstyles?
Look at the reverse of the coins.
- What is depicted here?
Use books on Ancient Greece and the internet to do some more in-depth research. Think about the following questions:
- When were coins first used in Ancient Greece?
- What were coins used for?
- Did everyone use coins?
- What about people who didn’t?
- What were they made from?
- How were they made?
- How can you tell which city state they belonged to?
- Why are they such important finds on archaeological sites? What can coin finds tell us about the extent of trade in the ancient world?
Look at these British Museum teaching resources inspired by Ancient Greek coins...
Children create their own large Ancient Greek coin!
- large white paper plates
- silver foil
- colouring pens or poster paint
- string or craft wire to hang the completed coins
Children explore the coin designs on Learn with Objects Cabinets of Curiosity 9: coins. Using these as inspiration, they then design their own big coin following the guidelines below:
- Draw a profile of your head and shoulders, or a classmate’s - to fill the coin (to portray yourself as the powerful ruler of an Ancient Greek city state, a god or goddess such as Athena).
- Add a fashionable Ancient Greek hairstyle, jewellery and/or beard
- Add any inscription
- Colour your coin to make it look like bronze, silver or gold
- Leave areas white where there are highlights, and shade them darker where there are shadows.
- Roll up and stick on small pieces of silver foil to make your coin more 3D. This can be used for areas like an inscription, the eye, eye brow, hair and/or beard.
- If time allows, create a reverse design as well. The symbol of the individual city state perhaps like the Owl of Athens, a god or goddess, a Greek ship, a charioteer or a lyre.
- Why not put a small hole through the top of the coin and hang it from the ceiling so it rotates to show both sides!