The history of the ancient world is a rich source of material for study. Combine all the areas and time periods with the various possibilities in project formats and you have the potential for some very good academic investigations. Use the most famous of the ancient civilizations as sources for your students' projects.
Sumer was the first known civilization, more ancient even than Egypt. One literary tale has survived from that time and place -- the Epic of Gilgamesh, a Sumerian king. Students could illustrate the story of Gilgamesh against a background of ziggurats learned about in history class. Or they might use the interactions between Gilgamesh, Enkidu and the gods Ishtar and Enlil as sources for writing and performing role-playing dramas about this ancient society.
Egypt is most famous for its pyramids. Students can build scale models of the pyramids and/or the Sphinx. Besides making pyramid simulacrums, students could present factual information about the qualities of the stone used, and scholarly speculations about exactly how these massive edifices were erected.
Greece presented not only famous architecture and mythology to the world, but also people such as Demosthenes, Pericles and Alexander the Great, and concepts such as democracy and the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle. To cover such a broad spectrum of people and ideas, students can create PowerPoint presentations that can display pictures of people and places and also show the words and ideas of some of these historical figures.
Rome was not built in a day, and one way to demonstrate that might be with a time-line project. Depending on students' access to technology, they could draw out a time line on paper with colored markers or do it with a computer program. The timeline could show the long history of Rome, starting with its founding in 753 B.C. and going all the way to its fall in A.D. 476. For extra credit, kids can upload a copy of the time line onto a school website.
China has been home to civilizations for thousands of years. It is a perfect source for research papers. Advanced students who have already explored other topics in history can use China as an opportunity to do some academic reading about this ancient culture and write a research paper for their class project.
Robert Paxton has been writing professionally since 2002 when he published his first novel. He has also published short stories and poems and writes ad copy for various websites. He graduated from the University of Arizona in 1995 with a bachelor's degree in creative writing. Paxton is a trained Montessori instructor who has taught at both the elementary and the secondary levels.