Curriculum - History - Lesson plan Greece lightening

9th July 2010 at 01:00
Primary: Take pupils to Hellas and back with a murder mystery lesson which develops their interpretation skills and helps them to analyse evidence

What the lesson is about

This is a murder mystery lesson set in Ancient Greece, which aims to develop pupils' interpretation skills. Supporting materials available on the link below include written and video "evidence" that can be printed into packs. The lesson is aimed at key stage 2 pupils.

Aims: pupils will be able to:

- consider and analyse evidence;

- understand why some evidence may be biased;

- make a judgment based on the evidence;

- supply considered reasons for their view.

Getting started

Introduce the lesson by saying that the cities of Athens and Sparta are at war, but have declared a truce so the Olympics can take place.

The final race of the Olympics pits two great warriors, Agathon from Athens and Baltar from Sparta - the favourite - against each other. Baltar loses but shortly afterwards Agathon is found strangled. The pupils must find out who did it and why.

Show the class the introductory video. Explain the need to analyse evidence: how can they be sure that what they read is true? Could it be biased in any way?

Explain that the types of evidence they will be using are not authentic to Ancient Greece, but the skills they will be using are those that archaeologists use. They will have to sift through the evidence to come to a conclusion, but it may not be possible to be totally sure. Explain about circumstantial evidence.

Ask pupils to produce, in groups, a mind-map of the suspects and all the motives they could have. Show the class exhibit one, a picture of the crime scene. Give pupils a few minutes to discuss it, but encourage them not to give their ideas away to other groups.

Play exhibit two, an interview with Agathon's next door neighbour, and give the pupils time to discuss it. Hand out exhibit three, a diary entry written by a Spartan. Explain that it contains some Greek letters and, as they do not have a translator, they will need to think about what they mean. Ask them to add their ideas to their mind maps.

Play exhibit four, an interview with Baltar, and hand out exhibit seven, a letter from Baltar to his master. Play exhibit six, an interview with a Corinthian nobleman. Again, ask pupils to discuss the evidence and add their ideas to their mind maps.

Ask pupils to assess the evidence they have so far. If they had to make a decision now, who would they accuse? Take a poll to see how the decisions spread out.

Taking it further

Recap the notion of circumstantial evidence and then play exhibit eight, an interview with the Corinthian nobleman's slave.

Hand out exhibit nine, explaining it is a diary account of a battle, found on Agathon's body. Distribute exhibit ten, a newspaper article on Agathon's death.

Give children time to discuss what they have seen and read and add ideas to their mind maps. Ask them to assess what they have discovered and then come to a final decision, explaining their reasons. Ask them to write their verdict on a piece of paper and read them out to you in turn. Discuss the verdicts and reasons.

Where to find it

The lesson plan, plus supporting exhibits including written and video evidence, was originally uploaded by jonwhitley and can be found at

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