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The natural history of Ancient Greece

Key facts

  • Suitable for: Key Stage 2
  • Subjects: History, Science
  • Session type: Museum led
  • Duration: 40 minutes
  • Class size (maximum): 35
  • Venue: World Museum


The Ancient Greeks have had a huge impact on our culture. Even now our everyday language and life are influenced by them - but what influenced the ancient Greeks?

Further details

fragments of old Greek pottery

This session is led by an experienced member of the museum’s education team and looks at the ancient Greek world using images and real museum specimens and objects. It starts by looking at how mountains and the sea shaped the development of Greek civilization and influenced the everyday life of its people.

An important part of this session looks at the Greeks and their close relationship to the world around them, in terms not only of their gods and myths but also in their practical use of natural resources, farming, fishing and hunting.

Pupils explore Greek mythology and the animals associated with some of its characters, including Athene, Arachne, Cyclops, Medusa and the Minotaur.

They examine the plants and animals used in everyday life, including those used as food, drink (fruits, nuts, meat, seafood, fish, wine etc.) and clothing (linen, skins and wool). The final part of this exciting session looks at the minerals used such as marble, clay and gold in their statues, their pottery and jewellery.

Using items from the museum’s handling collections, this session offers a unique learning experience that cannot be offered in the school classroom.

This workshop can be linked with:

  •  A hands-on workshop in the Weston Discovery Centre Explore and Discover Ancient Greece (museum-led)
  • Ancient Greece – an interactive presentation in the Treasure House Theatre (museum-led)
  • An activity trail looking at the Greek display on level 3. (self-led)
  • Greek Myths and legends in the Planetarium (museum-led)

Curriculum links

Key Stage 2 – Science and History

The aim is to develop an understanding of scientific enquiry using acquired knowledge and encourage pupils to recognise the power of rational explanation. We also want to develop a sense of excitement and curiosity by exposing them to real museum objects and specimens in a very practical way.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

Pupils will:

  • develop their chronological knowledge and understanding of world history based on the scientific study of the animals, plants, rocks and minerals that  were found in the ancient world
  • establish clear narratives within and across the periods they are studying
  • understand  characteristic features of the periods and societies studied, including the ideas, beliefs, attitudes and experiences of men, women and children in the past and their dependence on the natural world
  • understand how our knowledge of the past is constructed from a range of scientific and historical sources.


Pupils will:

  • be introduced to the work of a scientist and potential researcher.
  • be introduced to the work of curators and the reasons why the museum has a collection of natural history.
  • appreciate that the objects and specimens they are working with are real and have to be treated with respect.
  • understand how our knowledge of the past is constructed from a range of  historical and scientific sources.


Pupils will:

  • recognise and identify artefacts and specimens used in the sessions and some of the evidence they reveal about life in the past
  • begin to recognise that the past is represented and interpreted in different ways, and to give reasons for this.
  • begin to recall, select and organise historical and scientific information
  • use dates and historical  and scientific vocabulary to compare life in the ancient world with modern day.
  • address and devise historically and scientifically valid questions about change, cause, similarity, difference, and significance between ancient and modern civilisations.
  • give reasoned answers backed up by  scientific evidence
  • improve their speaking and listening skills in a group discussion context.


Pupils will

  • appreciate that the objects and specimens they are working with are genuine and authentic and have to be treated with respect.
  • see World Museum as a resource for historical and scientific research to help understand  the ancient world.