Teaching about Ancient Persia

Teaching about Ancient Persia

Welcome to our teaching unit on Ancient Persia! In this journey through time, we'll delve into the captivating world of one of the most influential civilizations in history. From the majestic reign of Cyrus the Great to the courts of Darius and Xerxes, we'll explore the rise, zenith, and eventual decline of the Persian Empire. Join us as we embark on an enlightening journey to uncover the mysteries and marvels of Ancient Persia, and discover how its enduring legacy continues to resonate in the modern world.

As with other ancient civilizations, I like to start off the topic looking at a timeline of key events and figures of Ancient Persia. This timeline activity allows students to research and sort these key events from the founding of the empire under Cyrus the Great, the wars against Greece under Darius I, and the ending of the empire by the forces of Alexander the Great. My students always love these lessons, and over time have inter-connected timelines of other civilizations from ancient history. This helps them to visualise the overlapping empires and people from other parts of the world.


A good place to start then is to take a closer look at Cyrus the Great and the impact he had on the region. I set the close reading activities as homework before moving onto the biography writing unit in the next few lessons. This unit involves students reading and sorting facts, before writing up these facts into paragraphs.


By now the students have a good knowledge of the accomplishments of Cyrus the Great, so time to look at some other key figures before discussing who might have been the most influential. The figures I focus on now are Darius the Great and King Xerxes I. I use the close reading activities about these figures - with the crossword and wordsearch usually set for a homework task. All of the reading activities are included in the Ancient Persia Close Reading Books below and are of course included in the Mega Bundles.


The next lesson involves splitting the class into three to debate the accomplishments and advancements made under the rule of the three key leaders of the Persian Empire. I then use the opinion writing unit below to guide my students in writing up their thoughts. Usually I collate some of the key facts together as a class first.


Time for a little assessment. For this I use the close reading activity about Ancient Persia. As with the others, the activity comes with a host of extension activities including a wordsearch and crossword puzzle, but I generally stick to the comprehension and writing task – leaving the other activities for any fast finishing students.


As a final writing task, which I sometimes set as homework, students can use the informational writing unit and the base of knowledge they have acquired from the previous lessons to make an information leaflet about Ancient Persia.


By the end of the unit my students have completed four or five close reading activities, three writing units and a timeline research activity. All the activities above are available individually or are part of the Ancient Persia Mega Bundle of Activities. All of the activities are available either for 3rd and 4th grade, or for 5th and 6th grade.


If you have time for one last fun and engaging activity, I recommend an Escape Room activity. There are lots of fun ones on the market but I have a bundle of four about Ancient Persia, which can also be individually purchased. 


For over 2000 more resources check out more from Creative Primary Literacy.

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