Make a Hoplite Shield Activity

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Updated on Dec 27, 2011

Battles and wars are some of the most interesting events in history. It's hard to imagine how ancient soldiers fought without modern technology and weaponry, but they did. The Greeks were great soldiers and had one of the most powerful armies in the ancient world. Citizen-soldiers of ancient Greece were called hoplites, and their battle formation, the phalanx, was one reason they were so hard to defeat. The key to this formation? The shield!

Spark your child's interest in ancient history by making a round shield like the ones hoplites carried in Ancient Greece. This is a great way to let your boys get their fill of weaponry and all things violent while sneaking in some history learning.

What You Need:

  • Piece of poster board, cardboard, or foam core
  • 1" x 8" piece of cardboard (for a handle)
  • Tack or pushpin
  • 12"-14" piece of string (depending on how big you want your shield to be)
  • Pencil
  • Markers, crayons, or colored pencils
  • Tape

What You Do:

  1. Have your child tie one end of the string around the tack or pushpin and tie the other end around a pencil.
  2. Push the tack through the center of the poster board.
  3. Using the string as a compass, have him draw a large circle on the poster board.
  4. Cut out the circle. This will be his shield.
  5. Encourage him to decorate the front of the shield with images, symbols, or patterns that represent his personality. Also suggest writing his name in Greek letters across the shield.
  6. Turn the shield over and tape both ends of the handle to the back so his hand fits between the handle and the shield.

Did You Know?

Ancient Greek shields and armor were made of many layers of metal, cloth wood, and leather, sort of like a sandwich. Some shields weighed as much as 15 or 20 pounds!

Daniella K. Garran is a seventh grade social studies teacher who lives on Cape Cod. She has published several articles about project-based learning. She spends summers working as an assistant director of a camp on the Cape.

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