Ancient Myths Retold


Students will be introduced to mythology and will create modern versions of ancient myths based on figures represented on modern U.S. coins. This lesson is part of the Unit Plan "Ancient and Modern Coins."

Coin Type(s)

  • Cent
  • Nickel
  • Dime
  • Quarter
  • Half Dollar
  • Dollar

Coin Program(s)

  • 50 State Quarters
  • Circulating Coins


  • Students will be introduced to mythology and gain an understanding of this literary form.
  • Students will create a modern version of an ancient myth based on figures represented on modern U.S. coins.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Language Arts

Minor/supporting Subject Area Connections

  • Social Studies


  • 3rd
  • 4th
  • 5th
  • 6th
  • 7th
  • 8th

Class Time

  • Sessions: One
  • Session Length: 90 minutes
  • Total Length: 46-90 minutes


  • Whole group
  • Individual work

Terms and Concepts

  • Coin History
  • Coins
  • Greece
  • Greek coins
  • Informational texts
  • Mythology
  • Roman coins
  • Rome
  • U.S. coins
  • Writing
  • Writing across the curriculum


  • Access to the Internet
  • Web pages that explain legends on Roman coins
  • Pencils
  • Paper
  • Books that give information on mythology, coins, and coin making, such as:
    • Book of Greek Myths by Ingri and Edgar D'Aulaire
    • Roman History From Coins by Michael Grant
    • Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Hamilton Edith
    • North American Coins and Prices, 9th edition, edited by David C. Harper
    • Handbook of Ancient Greek and Roman Coins by Klawans, Zander
    • Official 2001 Blackbook Price Guide to United States Coins published by Random House, Inc.
    • Coins as Living History by Ted Schwarz
    • Art In Coinage by Carol H.V. Sutherland, Carol H.V
    • A Guidebook of United States Coins, 53rd edition, 2001 by R.S. Yeoman


Use the Internet to research information about Greek and Roman myths.

Lesson Steps

  1. If your students have already studied ancient Greek or Roman myths, then you can review several stories with them, and brainstorm a list of myths they are familiar with. If mythology is new to them, it is best to focus on just 2 or 3 stories so they can understand the main elements in these myths. Help the students to recognize symbols and people in myths and what they represent.
  2. Have the students brainstorm a list of symbols and people on modern U.S. coins. You could start by making groups and giving each group a set of circulating coins to examine. They will probably find there are more symbols than they would have thought. The coins of the 50 State Quarters Program have many new symbols and figures.
  3. Direct the students to research a bit about the symbols on their coins so they can find correlations between ancient and modern symbols.
  4. Have each student pick an ancient myth to retell using symbols and figures from modern coins. If mythology is new to the class, they can all retell the same myth but use different symbols and figures. For example, Thomas Jefferson could become Hercules or Lady Liberty could become Athena.
  5. Have the students write their retelling of the myth and have them underline or highlight the modern symbol or person used in their story. They can illustrate their myth with drawings of the symbols and people they used.

Differentiated Learning Options

Students could create a coin with one side being the symbols and characters from the ancient myth and the other side being the symbols and characters of their retelling of the myth.


Use the student's writing based on literary elements in myths and mechanical conventions to assess whether they have met the lesson objectives.

Common Core Standards

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: L.1 Language
Grade(s): Grade 1
Cluster: Conventions of Standard English

  • L.1.1. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
    • Print all upper- and lowercase letters.
    • Use common, proper, and possessive nouns.
    • Use singular and plural nouns with matching verbs in basic sentences (e.g., He hops; We hop).
    • Use personal, possessive, and indefinite pronouns (e.g., I, me, my; they, them, their, anyone, everything).
    • Use verbs to convey a sense of past, present, and future (e.g., Yesterday I walked home; Today I walk home; Tomorrow I will walk home).
    • Use frequently occurring adjectives.
    • Use frequently occurring conjunctions (e.g., and, but, or, so, because).
    • Use determiners (e.g., articles, demonstratives).
    • Use frequently occurring prepositions (e.g., during, beyond, toward).
    • Produce and expand complete simple and compound declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory sentences in response to prompts.
  • L.1.2. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
    • Capitalize dates and names of people.
    • Use end punctuation for sentences.
    • Use commas in dates and to separate single words in a series.
    • Use conventional spelling for words with common spelling patterns and for frequently occurring irregular words.
    • Spell untaught words phonetically, drawing on phonemic awareness and spelling conventions.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: RL.1 Reading: Literature
Grade(s): Grade 1
Cluster: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

  • RL.1.7. Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events.
  • RL.1.8. Not applicable to literature.
  • RL.1.9. Compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in stories.

National Standards

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: All Language Arts Standards
Cluster: Literature
Grade(s): Grades K–12

  • Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.