Making Greek democracy come to life – a ‘smashing’ lesson KQ4 part 2

This is a really fun, practical lesson involving smashed pottery, writing in Ancient Greek through black wax and deciphering each other’s writing . Pupils actually decipher the names of people who were ostracised over 2,500 years ago. Not bad for Year 5!

Learning objectives

  • pupils grasp the fact that not all Greeks could vote
  • they understand how the system of ostracism helped safeguard people against corruption and is used in our language today
  • pupils see the links between our alphabet in Britain and the Greeks’

Step 1

For a really dramatic start to this lesson you need some shards of pottery, enough for one each in the class.  Broken old terracotta flower pots work well.  You need one shard about a centimetre wide and fairly broad for each pupil. These are to be what were known as ostracons.

Alternatively, you can start with the mystery picture of a man placing an Ostracon in a bowl.  What do the children think is happening?

Explain that in Ancient Greece a clever system was designed as a safeguard for protecting democracy, it was a harsh and unforgiving punishment, often meted out to individuals who were becoming too personally powerful, or who threatened the

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